Today our nation once again celebrates its freedom. Imagine with me what this day was like just 241 years ago. The Continental Congress finally approved the wording of the Declaration of Independence as a bold declaration that they believed our God-given freedoms were worth fighting for. Little did they know what was ahead.
To this day, these words stir within me a deep appreciation for the brave souls who have fought and died for this dream, and cause me to further commit to ensure their sacrifice is never wasted:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Read the full Declaration of Independence.
Now, this great experiment has become a light to the world! The Declaration of Independence has remained a rallying cry and our Constitution a model for other nations. The protection of our most sacred of all our values as enshrined in our Founding Documents and our Pledge of Allegiance, we are, “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” speaks to why millions have immigrated to our shores over the past three centuries and why countless others have risked everything to preserve its foundation.
Since the beginning of time, people have willingly sacrificed blood and treasure for the cause of freedom. It is a core longing woven into God’s design of man and a primary reason that religious liberty was set forth as a leading principle in our nation’s founding. The freedom to choose what and who you believe in should be one of the most basic and fundamental rights afforded to every citizen. And yet, this right is under attack like never before.
One clear and alarming example occurred only about a month ago, and of all places, during a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing at the Capitol building in Washington. On June 7th, former presidential candidate and Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, publically challenged a nominee’s fitness for office because of his religious beliefs.
President Trump had earlier nominated respected economist, Russell Vought, as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. However, because of an op-ed Mr. Vought wrote defending his Christian Alma Mater, Wheaton College, and its biblical narrative of salvation, a hostile Sen. Sanders said, “Mr. Chairman, this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.” Sadly, we have a sitting U.S. Senator who does not appear to understand that Article VI of the Constitution states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Thankfully we have courageous defenders of our First Amendment rights, such as Congressional Prayer Caucus Co-Chairman, Senator James Lankford, who is willing to stand up and counter this kind of intolerant and outrageous behavior. In a strong rebuttal during a national news broadcast, Sen. Lankford said, “Basically, Senator Sanders was saying I know you’re applying for something in economics, but because you’re a Christian, you can’t also then serve in government.”
So, yes… we will celebrate our freedom on July 4th and we will rejoice that we live in one of the most blessed countries on the planet… but we must also remain alert and active, never ignore the opposition, maintain a strong voice, and defend our religious liberties with passion and commitment.
There is probably not a person reading this email who would easily yield the freedom to hold on to their most sacred, most personal, and most deeply held beliefs. This is why we must continue to fight and advocate for our religious freedoms, and because true freedom can be found in religion, it becomes worth saving the freedom of religion… not merely the rights of conscience, but the rights of assembly, of expression, and speech.