At the Salt Lake Police Department, the only thing officers are handcuffing is freedom. Like most Americans, Eric Moutsos never dreamed that his faith would cost him his job. But that's exactly what happened last summer after the long-time policeman asked for a different post at the city's gay pride event.
He was asked, along with other members of the team, to lead the motorcycle brigade at the very front of the parade. Moutsos said he "felt uncomfortable doing what he considered celebratory circles with other motorcycles leading the parade because of his religious views" and asked to be placed somewhere else at the event. "It is unquestionably my duty as a police officer to protect everyone's right to hold a parade or other event, but is it also my duty to celebrate everyone's parade?" For that particular assignment, he explained, "It looks like we and I are in support of this parade. I said I would feel the same way if this was an abortion parade. I would feel the same way if it was a marijuana parade."
Not once did he refuse to work the parade -- yet in the middle of working out a compromise with his boss, he was suspended. The move absolutely blind-sided him. Shocked, the dad of four went home and told his family what happened. Almost immediately, the story broke that an unidentified member of the Salt Lake Police Department had been put on a leave of absence for "discrimination."
In typical P.C. fashion, Chief Chris Burbank spun the controversy as a story of prejudice and bias. "It has nothing to do with religious freedom -- that has to do with the hatred of those individuals and what the parade stands for, which is about unity and coming together," he told local reporters. Obviously, the chief is too busy policing people's views to protect them. After six months of absolute turmoil, Moutsos decided to come forward and reveal his identity. As a Mormon -- whose church recently threw its support behind the very ordinances that make this kind of persecution possible -- Eric wants to turn his oppression into an opportunity.
In an interview with Deseret News, Moutsos said his story should be a warning to every American who thinks same-sex "marriage" and homosexuality won't affect them. "We can 100 percent disagree and still 100 percent love. I hate that we're labeled in this way that is so divisive." Although Moutsos found a job with another police agency, he thinks his most important work is protecting religious liberty. He hasn't been asked to testify to lawmakers, but he'd like to.
Like Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Eric was told to either check his beliefs at the door or get out of public service. If the Mormon Church thinks that throwing its weight behind sexual orientation-gender identity measures like Houston's will shield people like him, they're sorely mistaken. How do you protect anyone's freedom of belief if you give the government another weapon to punish it? All this does is force Christians underground -- or worse, into a religious ghetto cut off from the rest of society.
First of all, that's not what we're called to do in the church. And secondly, it's not what our freedoms allow. It's tough to get the American people to agree on anything -- but they agree on that. In FRC's survey released this week by WPA Opinion, 81% of the country (which as unanimous as it gets in the polling community) agreed that the government should leave people alone to live and work according to their beliefs. If anyone's ready to lead that parade, we are!
In the Middle East, the terrorists' savagery continues -- not just against flesh and blood but against the world's ancient traditions. In Mosul, ISIS has been leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, as it sets fire to thousands of great works, destroying some of the world's largest collections of religious texts. In Western Iraq alone, ISIS managed to burn 100,000 titles.
As it abducts Assyrian Christians from Syria (more than 200 in the last handful of days), the barbarians are obliterating a treasure trove of biblical history along the way. Even the tomb of Jonah wasn't spared, as extremists exploded the site sacred to three of the world's largest faiths. That's no accident, RedState points out. "The Christian communities victimized by ISIS are very ancient ones. They are descendants of some of the first people evangelized by the Apostles. Now they are being persecuted in horrific ways by the Islamic State, and this latest mass abduction is the latest regrettable episode of it."
And what do we hear from the Obama administration? Crickets. (Thanks, in part, to officials like CIA Director John Brennan, who believe we cannot criticize "jihad" because it is a "legitimate tenet of Islam.") What happened in World War II was brutal, but this is evil unmasked. Eighty years ago, the Nazis behaved much in the same way that ISIS is behaving today.
Whoever burns books will burn men. ISIS is doing both. The Nazis did both. When the Muslim Brotherhood first appeared in Egypt in 1928, it was inspired by the Nazi movement in Germany. They may not have been linked formally, but the Muslim Brotherhood studied and admired the way the Nazis penetrated all elements of government, church, and civil societies. Most importantly, they shared the Nazi's anti-Semitism.
In fact, the first man to envision flaming towers collapsing in Manhattan was not Osama bin Laden, but Adolf Hitler. He worked on plans to launch bombers against New York City, which he regarded as the capital of the Jewish world conspiracy. Both terrorists sought the same ends. And unless our President wakes up, we need only to look to history to see what's to come.
Yesterday, respected University of Texas professor Dr. Mark Regnerus spoke at FRC about "Stability and Change in Americans' Relationships." His presentation was based on an exhaustive survey he conducted of more than 15,700 people from every background and walk of life. The survey's findings showed some change in Americans' attitudes towards marriage, cohabitation, and homosexuality, but one of the most striking findings is that only 42 percent of the American people support same-sex marriage, a percentage that roughly mirrors FRC's survey, released earlier this week, showing that 53 percent of people agree that marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.
Despite the sexual revolution of the past several decades, less than half (44 percent) of Americans believe cohabitation before marriage is a good thing. And as to infidelity, a whopping 74 percent say adultery is never acceptable. Dr. Regnerus noted that "so much is up for grabs" but made clear that religious commitment and the strength of one's family "track together."
"Marriage is not considered outdated," Dr. Regnerus observed, and "people regard marriage as concerning children." As the Supreme Court ponders same-sex "marriage" later this year, let's hope and pray their listening to those they have been appointed to represent -- the American people -- when it comes to redefining an institution still held in high regard throughout our society. Don't miss the Washington Times's coverage of Regnerus's lecture here.
** For more on yesterday's black pastors' SPLC press conference, check out the latest on CNSNews.com.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.