The headline on the Richmond Times Dispatch says it all: “Gay rights advocates decry…religious freedom agenda.” Decrying religious freedom is the new chic (oh, and likely a good fundraiser for the secular left). The article gives response to an article yesterday where Speaker of the House Bill Howell and Delegate Todd Gilbert made clear that General Assembly Republicans plan to make protecting religious liberty a top priority in light of the Supreme Court’s recent opinion to impose same-sex unions on the nation. A decision that is widely considered to have put religious freedom at genuine risk.

The good news is that the leadership in the House recognizes this threat and is willing to publicly take a stand. Delegate Gilbert, The Family Foundation’s Legislator of the Year in 2013 for his advocacy on behalf of religious liberty, is taking the lead. We will be working directly with him and any other legislators who want to ensure that your God-given right to exercise your faith in the public square is protected. We’re also working with national advocacy groups and other family policy councils on strategy and specific policy proposals that we’ll roll out as we get closer to General Assembly 2016.

And it should not be surprising that the secular left and Democrats are in a tizzy over the plan. With support from their friends at the ACLU, whose Executive Director posted this on her Facebook page today:

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Get that. Religious freedom is a “marketing gimmick to promote bigotry.”

Welcome to the new America.

Unfortunately, the secular left and media have successfully convinced multitudes of Americans that believing in natural marriage and Biblical sexual ethics is bigotry and hatred. They now argue that religious freedom – a concept engrained in the First Amendment as our first freedom – and included in our own Statute for Religious Freedom here in Virginia, is as a form of bigotry that is akin to racism and must be stomped out with the full force of the government, and Democrats are happy to oblige.

Of course, their argument is absurd. Those who believe in natural marriage and sexual ethics are hard-working Americans, Virginians, who love their neighbor, regardless of their sexual preference, who care about their community, who run businesses and teach in our schools. They are our neighbors and friends; they hold no animosity toward anyone but because they believe, whether from their faith or not, that children deserve a mother and a father and that marriage is between one man and one woman they have been demonized by the secular left and mainstream media for that belief. They are called hateful bigots when they are in fact the targets of hate and bigotry.

Now, it’s our job, yours and mine, to expose who is actually displaying hate, and to do so by continuing to speak the truth about marriage and human sexuality because we love our neighbor and want them and our communities to thrive.

This will not be an easy task, nor will it be successful in the immediate. But it is a task from which we cannot back down. The future of our culture depends on a robust religious liberty. As David Forte writes at The Public Discourse, “A republic, that is, a true republic, respects religious speech because such speech represents a different authority from governing power and hence affirms the limited nature of the governing power. It avows, by explicit reference, that the government is not the only game in town.”

To the secular left, the government is god. Let’s continue to show the people of Virginia that government answers to God, not the other way around.