Over the past several years, we have sounded a warning about the anti-faith voices within our country that are attempting to degrade and re-frame the core meaning of Freedom of Religion.
It is steadily and intentionally being deconstructed as one of our most time honored, sacred and constitutionally protected rights; and it is being further redefined and limited as the, “freedom to worship in private places only.” This insidious and forced compartmentalization of our faith values and religious liberty is slowly, but most assuredly, eroding our Judeo-Christian heritage and redefining the First Amendment. We do not have to leave our faith at the door of the public square. In fact, we must not!
What many once considered a far-fetched notion is now resurfacing again, and with widening support in a culture that is undergoing seismic shifts. Incredulously, Wisconsin State Senator, Tammy Baldwin, recently said she thinks that the First Amendment should be given an entirely new framework altogether. Watch video:
“Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith, there is absolute power to observe deeply held religious beliefs. I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”
Her sentiments should raise serious concerns for every person who values the freedom of conscience, belief and religious expression. Just a few short decades ago, most citizens never envisioned an America where the 10 Commandments would be removed from Capitol grounds, where businesses are forced to accept mandatory healthcare provisions that violate the sanctity of life, where activist outcries are made over a simple crèche in a public park at Christmastime, where valedictorians have their speeches scrubbed of all religious terminology, where pastors are being threatened with arrest for holding Bible studies in homes or their sermons subpoenaed and screened by government officials, where military chaplains are being court-martialed for praying in the name of Jesus or posting a Bible verse…and sadly, this list could go on.
These are not the things that could happen…they are the things that have happened and are continuing to take place almost on a weekly basis.
Even in the face of extreme challenges, there is good news. The clarion call for a righteous response is rising up as a bold standard of truth. Members of Congress and other government leaders at state and local levels are advocating for our rights. Yet, we too must add our voices to impact those who represent us and those within our own spheres of influence. Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recently stated in an article, “The First Amendment is a promise that we are free to live holistically, according to the dictates of our conscience.”
Likewise, in a letter to Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Senator James Lankford, Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, affirmed the constitutional right of all Americans to exercise the freedom of religion, and clarified the difference between the two concepts. He wrote, “The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship. Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs – it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all.”
Are you ready to take a stand against these injustices? As Americans and people of faith, we must never take religious liberty for granted by allowing our First Freedom—guaranteed by the First Amendment—to be redefined, restricted and relegated exclusively and solely to our hearts, homes or houses of worship. When the Pharisees tried to silence His disciples, Jesus said the very stones would then cry out (Luke 19:40). Can we accept anything less?
I want to encourage you to stay engaged in the national conversation and help champion God’s rightful place in American culture, as well as advocating for our most cherished freedoms. Whenever you have opportunity, remind your friends and family:
Your faithful prayers and ongoing financial support provide the critical means to not only face these challenges, but to take an intentional and determined stance in pressing forward.
You are the difference makers. Only together can we do this!