Religious Freedom and the First Amendment

One of the issues that figured prominently in the past presidential election was that of religious freedom. Rumors are circulating that an executive order is being drafted to address recent encroachments on the religious freedom of individuals who own businesses and endeavor to practice what the Scriptures teach.

     The Constitution of the United States was ratified and became the law of the land on September 13, 1788 when the Continental Congress passed a resolution to that effect after eleven of the thirteen original states had ratified it. North Carolina and Rhode Island followed quickly ratifying the Constitution by May of 1790.

     Fearful that a powerful federal government may infringe on the individual freedoms our forefathers had come to enjoy in the New World the first Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, were soon ratified by December 15, 1791.

     The First Amendment to the Constitution is considered the cornerstone to the other nine that follow. The first words of the First Amendment read, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

     I have always said I think it is significant that when our founding fathers sought to protect individual freedoms the first one they secured was the freedom to exercise our faith and not be required to support with our taxes a state church. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal.

     That ideal enshrined in the First Amendment has come under attack in recent years. Some have used laws that conflict with the First Amendment to force others to support and comply with practices that go against their conscience.

     Commenting on this issue in another forum one person told me I should confine my beliefs about morality within the four walls of my church. When I countered that he should confine his immoral practices within the four walls of his bedroom he replied with something that should not be printed here.

     The simple truth is that those who now flaunt their immorality want to force the Christian faith into the same closet they came out of. While the Christian faith is intensely personal for the believer, it was never intended to be a private faith.

     Jesus said, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops,” Matthew 10:27. In the Great Commission Jesus told the church, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” He did not instruct us how to do that quietly.

     When the government makes and enforces laws that prevent people of faith from discriminating between what is good and evil, what is moral and immoral, then there is no free exercise of religion and the First Amendment isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

     God told Pharaoh through Moses, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,” Exodus 8:1. That is what the Christian is asking of our government.


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