It seems like déjà vu. Seventh-day Adventist Lay pastor, Eric Walsh is in the news again, this time for filing a lawsuit against Georgia’s Department of health for violating his religious freedom. Walsh was hired in Georgia in 2014 after being forced to resign his position in Pasadena, California, after LGBT activists applied pressure on him and the Public Department of Health in Pasadena after discovering sermons that he preached (which were archived online) upholding the biblical stance on marriage (a union between one man and one woman), and other topics such as creationism and health.
It all started when Dr. Walsh was invited to be the keynote speaker for a commencement at Pasadena City College. LGBT activists and students vehemently protested and Walsh backed out. Not satisfied with the cancellation, the LGBT community and its sympathizers wanted to further damage him emotionally and professionally which resulted in his resignation as director of Pasadena’s public health department. Details of the lawsuit appeared on Fox News April 20.
“Dr. Eric Walsh, a renowned public health expert who also serves as a lay minister has filed a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Public Health alleging he was terminated for delivering sermons on issues ranging from homosexuality to evolution…First Liberty, one of the nation’s largest law firms defending religious liberty, is representing the Seventh-day Adventist lay minister. They contend that the Georgia Department of Public Health assigned workers to investigate sermons Dr. Walsh delivered on health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science and creationism. He also preached on what the Bible says about homosexuality. ‘He was fired for something he said in a sermon,’ Dys [Jeremy, First Liberty Attorney] told me. ‘If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything…First liberty said Walsh was hired as a district health director on May 7, 2014. A few days later, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities. ‘DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online, analyzing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural, and other public addresses,’ the lawsuit states. The behavior of DPH is so egregious that its own counsel twice warned them on May 15 that ‘under federal law Dr. Walsh’s religious beliefs could play no role in any employment decision by DPH.’ But on May 16, the DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted…And the Department of Public Health wasn’t the only organization concerned about the pastor’s sermons. The Georgia Voice reported that the Health Initiative, an Atlanta-Based group committed to LGBT health issues, strongly opposed Walsh’s hiring.”1
It is clear that the influence and voice of the LGBT community is so strong that even government institutions and programs cower before them and grant their demands even if they violate constitutional rights. The takeaway from this ordeal is that religious freedom is becoming a thing of the past, especially if a person’s beliefs differ from the masses and the powers that be; which means that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is no longer being respected. Additionally, if a person holds beliefs that are considered discriminatory or divisive, if enough pressure is applied, government officials will push aside justice, truth, and equity to appease the protesters and yield to the popular demand which could and often does ruin individuals professionally, financially, emotionally, and destroys their credibility and reputation. On a personal level the implication is that those with government jobs cannot, even in the privacy of their churches, homes, or anywhere else unrelated to their job, speak freely upon their biblical beliefs without having them strictly scrutinized, after which, based on the government representatives’ discretion, their words and practices can and will be used against them.
After Dr. Walsh’s sermons were so meticulously scrutinized by the officials in Georgia, they were not led to examine themselves and exclaim as did the Jews after hearing the apostles preach, “men and brethren, what shall we do;” no they were further infuriated and all the more determined to terminate him, and did follow through with it. They were not listening to the messages with open hearts as learners, but rather as judges; they had already made up their minds. Sadly the same government that allowed for his termination is the very government that he is looking to and expecting to defend his freedom and rule in his favor.
It is evident that soon God’s people will not be able to look any longer or to rely upon the founding principles of liberty of their nation to protect their freedoms, which is a clear indication that God would have his people separated as far as possible from government connection and support. The sad reality is that the Seventh-day Adventist denomination that Walsh is a member of has its churches and other institutions aligned with the government (501(c)(3) tax-exemption), which means the government is able, whenever it chooses, to control what is preached, taught, or done to a great extent within those institutions. Those institutions are government institutions, and if they are to remain so and continue operating and receiving funding, they must comply with all the mandates, stipulations, and regulations that they are subjected to. The significance of which is little realized among Seventh-day Adventists in general, thus they reject the idea that there will come a time in which Seventh-day Adventist ministers must allow their churches to host the “wedding” ceremonies of same-sex couples or even be compelled to perform the ceremonies themselves. Already Seventh-day Adventist institutions of higher learning are pandering to the LGBT community and host events and clubs for individuals that identify as such. Not only that, but consider that the time is not far distant when the law of the land mandates that church doors must be opened on Sunday for Sunday church services.
When the test is brought upon the inhabitants of the earth, will the people of God stand firm upon a “thus saith the Lord” be the consequences what they may? Are they prepared to lose everything, have their characters and reputations maligned and misrepresented for Jesus and His truth’s sake? Are they prepared to be to threatened, prosecuted, fined, jailed, prohibited from buying or selling, killed? The message comes to such that would remain faithful in this present crisis and the soon coming final crisis: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”