Defending Religious Freedom
Since the founding of America, religious freedom has been a symbol of this great country. As James Madison, a Founding Father of our nation, wrote, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.”1 Our Founding Fathers believed that the unalienable right to live out one’s deeply held beliefs in both the church and public arena was essential, so they included this protection in the First Amendment. However, this valued liberty is currently being attacked on multiple fronts.
Most recently, H.R. 5, also known as the “Equality Act,” passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Championed by Speaker Pelosi and sponsored by Oregon US Senator Jeff Merkley, H.R. 5 is a dangerous piece of legislation. According to the Family Research Council, “The ‘Equality Act’ would mandate government-imposed unfairness by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexual ethics.” Furthermore, it “explicitly removes bi-partisan religious liberty protections found in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” To read the full issue brief, click here. Todd Starnes also writes about it here.
As people of faith who desire to live out our beliefs, what can be done to protect religious freedom? Here are three ways you can make a difference.
Educate yourself and share that knowledge with others. One of the most effective ways to defend the First Amendment is to know its history and true intent. The best sources are the Founding Fathers’ themselves. Start with reading the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and also discover insightful commentary in the Federalist Papers. Furthermore, find scholars, think tanks, and historians who hold an originalist view of the Constitution and explore their writings. With this wealth of knowledge, begin encouraging others with what you have discovered. Whether it is your children, friends, co-workers, or people you attend church with, share why religious freedom is essential and why we must come together to protect it.
Take a stand. If we don’t take action to preserve religious liberty, who will? If we desire to live out our faith in the public square, then it is our responsibility to stand up and let our voices be heard. One critical action is to elect men and women to office who will uphold the First Amendment and not support legislation like H.R. 5. Because these people represent you, it is also essential to hold them accountable and encourage them to support or oppose certain bills. As we stand for truth, we can take comfort in the words of Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you where you go.”
Pray. Prayer is what will ultimately change hearts and minds. Pray for our legislators, judges, and those who influence policy decisions. Pray for favor with the media. Pray that Americans will recognize the importance of religious freedom. And pray that this right would be upheld and preserved for generations to come.