Religious Freedom in Ameica

On inauguration, it was refreshing to see and hear people unabashedly and unapologetically pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Not to throw it in anybody’s face, but because over the last few decades people have been more and more hostile to Christians, prayer, and public expressions of religious devotion by anyone who claims to love Jesus Christ. It has become customary to go into conniptions at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ in public, and so many believers have been cowered into silence for fear of offending people because of that name. Military leaders in the last few year had forbidden their chaplains from praying in Jesus name, and have threatened the careers of their chaplains for committing this egregious act. Here is a story from a few years ago, and in this story; two VA chaplains faced a similar fate.  In a more recent incident another Navy Chaplain, in addition to the treasonous act of praying in Jesus name, had the audacity to express his deeply held conviction on marriage and sexuality. A few years ago the American Family Association was portrayed as a domestic hate group in a military briefing because of their stance on traditional marriage. The AFA holds to traditional Christian values and because of this they are a constant target of those who wish to implement a radical leftist agenda unopposed.

While a lot is made of intolerance toward Moslems, and people from other faiths; intolerance toward Christians usually happens without even a ho hum from the otherwise watchful protectors. Christianity is the one religion that one can say anything about without any kind of blow back. One can make all kinds generalizations about Christians, and never have to worry about any protests over bigotry towards them. While persecution is something that Christians expect, because they have been taught that their decision to be follow Jesus Christ will often be met with hostility, and at times they may even have to suffer for their faith; what makes this trend troubling is that this country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and a lot of the hostility that Christians face comes from official sources.

It is one thing for Bill Maher to get on his show and make fun of Christians, and to ridicule their belief in Jesus as their savior, for Sarah Silverman to do the same in her comedy show, or for a Harvard Law Professor to call on people to treat Christians like Nazis; that is to be expected, but it is quite another issue when Christian people become the target of officials in government, and other well-funded groups like the ACLU. Though persecution from governments is also not unheard of in the history of Christianity, it is very unusual for the United States.

Because our constitution guarantees the right of all people to follow their beliefs, and to worship according to their conscience, it is important to guard against the encroachment of Government on the religious freedoms of its citizens. If the Government can tell us what to believe, how to pray, or worship, then there are no limits to what they can tell us to do. No one can say that this country is not a haven of religious freedom, because it is. It is still the best place to be for anyone who wants to experience religious liberty, but we must jealously guard against the minute chipping away of these rights, because if we ever lose our freedoms it will not happen overnight, but through a very slow creep, and as people become complacent. To quote James Madison again “since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation”.

There has been a concerted effort over the years to deny the Judeo/Christian heritage of the United States. This does not mean that America is or was a “Christian nation” in a theocratic sense, but there is no denying that many of the governing principles under which the country was founded was based on Judeo/Christian values. The founders never required that religious discussion be banned from the public square, only that congress make no law respecting the establishment of any religion.

For over one hundred and fifty years Christian traditions were an integral thread of our society until it started coming under slow but constant attack by some in authority, and other well-funded organizations. We have gone from being a nation built on solid Judeo/Christian principles and values that has moved civilization forward like no other philosophy in the history of mankind, to a nation that began prosecuting chaplains for praying in Jesus name, and holding to their beliefs. Teachers can now lose their jobs if they pray with their students, referencing the bible can be precarious, and pastors can get in trouble with the IRS for expressing their religious beliefs from the pulpit.  So it is encouraging that at the inauguration of the President of the United States of America, the people called upon to give the invocation, called on the name of Jesus without any reservations, with boldness and with pride.  This may be a small thing in the overall fight, but it is a boon for those who have felt like they had to keep silent for fear of being targeted. It is all part of the many reasons why so many people love Donald Trump, despite his many flaws.

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