Last week I worked on two different cases in which federal courts had determined that a religious person's beliefs were not entitled to protection under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause. In both cases, the court's determination was based upon scrutiny of the religious belief itself. This should be alarming to all of us.
From a systemic perspective, the First Amendment cannot be the bulwark of consicence protection it was intended to be if courts are permitted to act as arbiters of which beliefs are worthy of being protected. While the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically said as much in multiple rulings, lower federal courts are beginning to test the limits of this doctrine.
But what about us? Do we sit as arbiters? Are we, as Christians, as concerned about the protection of others as we are for ourselves?
Sometimes The Rutherford Institute receives criticism--typically from professing Christians--for providing legal assistance to someone who holds a belief that the critic considers to be "crazy" or (heaven forbid) for representing someone who is not a follower of Christ.
How quick we are to forget the parable of the Good Samaritan! If we are to be lights in a darkened world, we must demonstrate the charity of the Samaritan--the charity of Christ--who makes no judgements as to the "worthiness" of the neighbor to be helped.
At a personal, Gospel level, "crazy" beliefs count because they are opportunities. The person of faith knows that Truth will ultimately prevail, and for that reason is not threatened by the existence of heresies or false religions. Rather, he sees the chance to proclaim the Gospel message in a way that makes men stop in their tracks to wonder at his stooping to help a stranger.
On another level, as John Whitehead has so frequently reminded me, "all freedoms hang together." It just might be my faith that is one day considered "crazy." Indeed, some days I wonder if it already is.