Dr. Everett Piper, President
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
March 15, 2016
Speech delivered today on Capitol Hill as part of a a congressional delegation hosted by the Family Research Council.
Should American citizens be subjected to a government established definition of acceptable religion? Should Congress presume to “prohibit the free exercise” of any citizen’s chosen faith or creed? Should a free people be penalized if they disagree with what the government deems to be acceptable belief and practice? Should a religious college, whether it be Mormon, Mennonite, Buddhist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Unitarian or United Methodist, be prohibited by any government agency from freely teaching its views concerning personal morality and human behavior? Should an American college or university ever fear government penalties if its moral and religious beliefs are deemed to be out of compliance with government demands?
Is sexual behavior a moral discussion? Are not moral discussions almost always religious in nature and, thus, informed by religious doctrine and religious discipline? Are not human beings created in the imago dei and, thus, free moral agents, capable of choosing their behaviors and controlling their proclivities? Isn’t human identity much more than the sum total of our appetites and inclinations? Shouldn’t any college, whether it be secular or sacred, have the freedom to teach its view of personal responsibility and moral culpability without fear of government penalty or reprisal?
Is not marriage a religious ceremony? Should the government breach the ecclesiastical wall between it and religion and, thus, presume to redefine a millennia-old sacrament of the Church?
These are not hyperbolic questions. They are not sensational or speculative. As we speak, Oklahoma Wesleyan University finds itself before the Supreme Court – forced to defend its belief that no one should presume to define life other than God and that no government agency should ever be empowered to force women to avail themselves of insurance products or services that compromises their religious convictions. As we speak, Oklahoma Wesleyan University finds itself before the Department of Education – forced to defend its religious belief that God assigns gender; that a female is an ontological reality, that a woman objectively exists and that it is nothing short of misogyny of the highest degree to suggest she is merely a subjective fabrication; an emotional construct rather than a biological fact. As we speak, Oklahoma Wesleyan University finds itself confronted with the shockingly candid admission of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who has warned that our tax exempt status, which has stood for well over 100 years, “may become a problem” simply because our religion demands that we teach and practice the 2000-year-old tradition of Judeo-Christian marriage.
Our nation’s tradition of religious freedom has stood inviolate for more than 200 years. Our culture has stood firm in its belief that ideas about philosophy and religion – the “first things” of human existence – should be, indeed must be, free from government proscription, prescription, or government penalties. Oklahoma Wesleyan holds firm to this rich tradition of academic freedom as well as our Constitution’s promise of religious liberty. We are resolute in our belief that freedom must never be lost to portentous fads, personal fancies, political temptations or popular trends. Oklahoma Wesleyan University, therefore, stands in support of the The First Amendment Defense Act and its guarantee that all scholars, all students, all priests, all pastors and, yes, all college presidents, need never fear being silenced by government intrusion into the affairs of the Academy or government presumption upon the altar of the Church.