“I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”
-George Washington, letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia
“Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile to his conscience…It would be sinful for a man to surrender that to man which is to be kept sacred for God.”
-John Leland, The Rights of Conscience Inalienable
Celebrating Liberty This Week
Friday always gives a reason to celebrate, but we’re really looking forward to this Friday, aren’t we? This Friday is the 4th of July, where we’ll fire up the barbeque grills, throw a Frisbee outside with our kids, and settle down after dark to “ooh” and “aah” at one of the spectacular fireworks displays that will take place all across this great nation. And why do we celebrate? We celebrate our independence as a nation, and most of all, we celebrate liberty.
From the beginning, America has offered its people religious liberty. This is an astounding gift – to have the freedom to worship as we please. It came at a great price, and each time wave that Grand Old Flag with its scarlet stripes this weekend, let us remember that the blessings we enjoy would not have been possible without millions of courageous, selfless men and women who shed their blood to buy our freedom.
Religious Freedom in Jeopardy
I wonder if we’ll still be celebrating our religious liberty a few decades from now. Call me an alarmist, but the more I read today’s headlines the more it seems that slowly but surely, our religious liberties are being called into question. Take the recent hubbub about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby’s request to not be forced to pay for abortion-inducing birth control pills. The masses are outraged, claiming that this decision reduces the ability of women to obtain birth control.
This, however, is not the case. According to the Christian Post, Hobby Lobby covers 16 of the 20 contraceptives required under the HHS Mandate, and only objected to the 4 types of birth control which can lead to terminating a pregnancy which has already begun. But those who are angry about the decision have made it clear that they are gearing up for a fight.
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, also sees danger on the horizon for believers. During an interview with Fox News, he said that while he believes this decision was a great victory, he thinks the victory will be short lived.
“The Obama administration was basically saying that you can be religious and pro-life in your church, synagogue, or at home on the weekend, but when you go to work on Mondays, you have to give up those beliefs and become pro-abortion,” Jeffress explained. He went on to warn his fellow Christians that he believes “people of faith are going to increasingly come into conflict with governmental mandates that violate their personal faith.”
Don’t Drop the Torch!
So what should we do? Different people will answer that question in vastly different ways, but I think the key element is that we do something. If we sit back and say nothing, then others will be happy to speak for us. And there will come a time in the not-so-distant future when our religious voice will be silenced.
Let’s have a wonderful July 4th celebration, full of family, homemade food, and splendid fireworks! And let us honor the sacrifice of our forefathers most of all by remaining vigilant to protect our freedom to serve God in good conscience.
The torch our American fathers have passed down to us has shone so brightly and with such passion it has illuminated the world…let’s not drop it now.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” – Psalm 33:12