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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

Taking Steps to Protect Religious Institutions

Religious institutions are increasingly threatened with lawsuits, smear cam­paigns, hostile media coverage, adversarial legislation, aggressive government administrative action, and more. Nathan Berkeley, from the Religious Freedom Institute, shared strategies to help churches, Christians schools and ministries to remain faithful to their core convictions, identity, and mission.


Tonight we were joined by Nathan Berkeley from the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI).

Nathan is the Communications Director at RFI, which is an organization based out of Washington, DC. The purpose of RFI is to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.

At the Religious Freedom Institute, Christians, as well as people of other faith traditions, work together to promote religious freedom, both in the US and globally. 

Important: The protection of religious freedom is not important because of a belief that all religions are equally true (we do NOT believe this!), but instead, all persons are equal in dignity. Therefore, every person should have the right, by virtue of their inherent dignity, to pursue answers to ultimate questions, such as:

  • What is the nature of God?

  • What is the nature of human flourishing?

  • Where did we come from?

  • What happens after we die?

In a person’s pursuit of answers to these types of ultimate questions, they should NOT be subjected to legal coercion, cultural intimidation, or violence.

An example for Christians in particular: We see in the New Testament, the disciples are meant to take the Gospel into the world where they are to proclaim it freely and hearers of the Gospel message are meant to receive it freely; there is no coercion or violence meant to be used in the advancement of the Gospel!

Religious freedom = the freedom to pursue a religion without force, coercion, violence, manipulation, intimidation AND the right to exit a religion and pursue a different faith community (or no religion altogether)

Are progressive activists truly coming after churches and other religious organizations for the purpose of undermining or fundamentally transforming them? 

According to Nathan, absolutely, yes! Some of the areas that have been targeted with aggressive smear campaigns include: 

  • Christian K-12 education

  • Faith-based foster care and adoption

  • Christians in healthcare, specifically hospitals and clinics

  • Christian Pregnancy Resource Centers

  • Christian small businesses, especially those in the wedding industry

  • Christian universities and colleges

What is the goal of these activists? To push these institutions (particularly Christian organizations) out of American life. Activists want to eliminate the visible ideas of what they disagree with.

What steps can Christian institutions take in order to prepare for the activists?

  • #1Consistency: The institution must try to achieve full alignment with the religious mission, character, and identity across all areas of the organization.

  • #2Transparency: How does a Christian institution present itself to the world around it? Be aware of defining terms, mission statements, website content, communication with reporters & journalists, social media, etc.

Be sure to download the RFI Crisis Toolkit (see link in resources)! Be intentional and take time to assess policies and hiring practices BEFORE a crisis occurs!

Be on the lookout for Krista’s upcoming blog post on improving hiring practices in Christian ministries. Coming soon!

PLEASE share this show with your pastor, Christian school administrator, and any other faith-based leaders in your area!


Be sure to check out a previous episode on Just War Theory with Dr. Eric Patterson from the Religious Freedom Institute:

RFI Crisis Toolkit for Religious Institutions:

Connect with the Guest:

Stay connected with the Religious Freedom Institute:


Tonight's show is brought to you by the Center for Biblical Unity, Theology Mom podcast, Family 210 Clothing, and Impact 360!

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