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A fight to preserve religious freedom is taking shape in Michigan.
Christian leaders from across the Great Lakes State gathered in Lansing Tuesday to pray and strategize over emerging threats to religious liberty.
A key topic of discussion was the recent push by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the state's first openly gay chief legal officer, to set up a so-called "Hate Crimes Unit" to investigate and potentially prosecute groups or individuals motivated by "bias against a particular group."
Rusty Chatfield, pastor of Baptist Bible Church in Burt Lake, finds Nessel's task force unsettling: "What they are doing now is they are making a list of people who ... basically say 'What you've done up to this point ... we can't arrest you, but we are going to make a list, a database, of all those who show bias.'"
Though Nessel insists her Hates Crimes Unit will not suppress freedom of expression, critics fear it could easily morph into a type of "Big Brother" force bent on policing thought and speech.
Doug Levesque of the Bible Nation Society told Church Militant that the time has come for faithful Christians to draw a line in the sand:
And so this is not only about religious liberty. This is also about free speech and it's also about we don't want the government to arbitrate emotion. We don't them to say what's a crime — love and hate. Those are things that are not in the realm of Caesar. Those are things in the realm of God.
In response to heavy-handed encroachment by far-left government officials, Levesque and other Christian leaders have drafted the Othismos Declaration, a statement affirming they will dissent from government efforts to impose laws that violate Christian consciences.
They say the solution to America's moral crisis isn't in Lansing or in Washington, but rather, in personal prayer and repentance.