Our country started with a handful of people who did not want to be told by their government how to worship. Unfortunately, the very thing that they wanted freedom from was the very thing they eventually began to impose upon others. The did not realize that legalism was denying people God-given liberties, which amounts to the free will we are all born with. I don’t want to talk about stake burnings, drownings, torture or any of that. What I want to share, here, are some of my thoughts on Freedom of Religion.
There is talk about freedom of religion. There is other talk about the United States as being a “Christian nation”. According to our Constitution, we can’t have it both ways.
The very idea of the United States being a Christian nation is a fantasy of some ultra-right Christians. While a few of our Founding Fathers were Christians (most others were deists), they had no designs on making this country a Christian nation. But, there are those who claim the United States is a Christian nation and prefer that we enact laws enforcing the morals which are according to Christian and Biblical convictions. But, this was not the plan of our Founding Fathers. Let’s take a quick peek at what the Constitution has to say:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
While many of our laws and freedoms are based on Judeo-Christian ethics, people seem to forget that what we read in our Constitution is really what God has designed in us, as per our free will. God gave us the ability to choose whether we want to follow Him or not. So, if we are free to follow Him or not, then we are also free to follow His ways, or not. People who want to legislate certain moral issues are attempting to make laws, “respecting an establishment of religion”.
Oh, wait…he’s here again. Let’s hear it.
“Now you already told us it is wrong to make a law against same-sex marriage or against abortion. Now, you have the nerve to say that this great land is not a Christian nation! We have the Ten Commandments hanging in courthouses and other prominent government buildings. Our congress opens with prayer. It says, ‘In God We Trust’ on our money, for crying out loud. This nation was founded on Christian principles, so I’m telling you, this is a Christian nation!”
I could agree with you…but, then we would both be mistaken. By the very words in our Constitution, we have the same freedom that God gave us from the time He put mankind on the Earth. What we see concerning prayer and the Ten Commandments, I believe, is not the establishment of a Christian Nation, but respect for those principles our Founders used to ensure not only our freedoms, but protection of people and property. God gave Man the ability to choose Him and His ways or not, knowing that as generations continued, many would choose not to follow Him. As many would choose not follow Him, they could also choose to live outside the parameters of His design, choose to disobey Him and even choose to follow other gods. He gave mankind that ability. For some reason, the Church feels that we must force people to follow God’s ways, even if they have no desire to do so.
Do you think God could have stopped Adam and Eve? After all, He is omniscient and omnipresent…it’s not as if He didn’t know what they were up to when they approached that tree. He could very well have intervened and prevented them from eating of the forbidden tree. He allowed them to choose. He allowed them to disobey. He allowed them to decide for themselves. And, if you may remember, it was God Who put that tree there in the first place.
Freedom of Religion does not mean that I am free to impose my convictions on another, any more than someone is free to force me to deny what I believe is true (“…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). I am also free to express what I believe every bit as much as anyone is free to simply say, “No.” From what I see, the First Amendment also gives people the right for freedom from religion. So, to make laws according to our convictions, claiming the United States is a “Christian Nation”, would be forcing an establishment of religion, which our Founding Fathers had no intention of doing. Many of them may have been Christians, but none of them were about to establish a Christian nation.
To attempt to establish a Christian nation would be no better than the establishment our original settlers were getting away from. To enact laws which reflect our convictions put us at the same level of the men in Salem and other towns at that time, who burned alleged witches at the stake and severely punished alleged adulterers, among other “illegal sins”. We need laws to protect people and their property and there needs to be proper consequence for breaking these laws. We do not need to impose morality, which are laws according to our convictions, for which we, as followers of God, are responsible for before Him and should not legislate people who choose not to follow His ways. Their behavior will not bring them to Him any more than making them say, “Vroom! Vroom!”, will make them a V-8 engine. Following God and His ways is a decision and not a mandate. God Himself did not mandate it, neither should we.
Christian Nation? No. A nation where we are free to be Christians? Yes. The right to infringe our convictions and force people to live as we do? No. We have a responsibility to be a ‘light on a hill’, not a spot light in people’s eyes. To say this is a Christian Nation is an offense to the freedom which was given to all people by God Himself and contradictory to our First Amendment rights.
Jesus did not come to establish a nation or be in charge of a nation…He came to redeem people. He came with an offer of redemption, not legalistic mandate. We are His people by His grace, not because we follow a set of standards and rules. Let’s not make the mistake, as many did, that the Messiah came to establish a natural kingdom on Earth, but to bring His Kingdom on Earth through the hearts of His people – those who have freely decided to follow Him.