By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
PORTLAND — Maintaining religious freedom is critical to resolving America’s problems, one of four featured speakers at an annual event focusing on liberties said here last month.
‘When you are allowed to worship according to your conscience, that carries the seeds that allows the correcting of things that are wrong,” Joseph Infranco, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom legal rights agency told about 800 people Feb. 3 at the 2018 Freedom Rally. Sponsored by Oregon Liberty Alliance, a coalition of Christian and conservative groups, the event was held at the Holiday Inn Portland Airport.
Also featured during a full afternoon were David Clarke Jr., former sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisc., and frequent TV commentator; Dana Loesch, national radio talk host and political commentator; and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden from Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District.
The largely Christian perspective of the event was set with opening comments from Mike White, a co-founder of the Oregon Family Council, who alluded to the kind of government espoused by Jesus. “He’s got an eternal Kingdom that won’t have the same kind of division we see now in our nation,” White said.
Infranco started off with a bit of history, comparing the tyranny of the French Revolution of the 1700s with the “very different approach” of the American Revolution that same century. He said the Americans’ “fundamental recognition” that rights come from the Creator motivated the Founders to protect conscience and freedom with the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Christian convictions have sparked great reforms in Western society in the past, he said. As examples, he cited Britisher William Wilberforce’s successful life effort to see slavery abolished, or in the U.S., the civil rights laws inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.
“There have always been brave people who stand up and speak, and you are those kinds of people,” Infranco told the crowd.
Clarke said that after nearly 40 years in law enforcement, his recent retirement now allows him to “get to do what I really like to do — inspiring people like you to stand up for our Constitution, the rule of law and American values,” he said.
But his frequent travels and efforts now as a prominent speaker on such issues aren’t without fierce opposition, Clarke noted. He cited John 14:1 and Psalm 23 as scriptures that give him the courage to promote what he believes. “These passages give me the strength to face the violent world of politics,” he said.
Loesch agreed that now is a “nasty time in politics,” but she urged her fellow Christians to stand up for their traditional values against forces that would seek to tear them down. “Do not let those people make you ashamed for your faith,’ said Loesch, who passionately described America’s political battles as both a spiritual and cultural fight. “It is time to reclaim the culture.”
Loesch said secular forces can’t stand the free practice of religion. She pointed to legal battles such as Christian photographers in New Mexico targeted because they refused to shoot photos at same-sex weddings, or, here in Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein, who lost their bakery business because they declined to bake a cake for such a ceremony.
“This story infuriates me!” said Loesch. “They (the Kleins) are a sweet family!”
She said she would simply tell the lesbian pair who filed the case against the Kleins, “You don’t have a right to cake!” “Because I’m trying to get right with the Lord, that’s all I’m going to say about these women,” Loesch added.
Non-Christians actually benefit from this nation’s religious foundations, she said. “You don’t have to share my faith to enjoy the rights that my faith has brought to this country,” she said. “We don’t force it on you. I don’t want anything forced on me. I don’t want secularism forced on me.”
Walden, who gave an update on current federal legislation, expressed appreciation to the rally crowd by alluding to the New England vs. Philadelphia NFL Super Bowl game to be played the next day.
“You’re the Patriots and Eagles I want to be with,” Walden said.