Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day! This is the day that Americans celebrate the secession from England to birth a new nation in 1776. With it came the freedom of religion.
Freedom and the Bill of Rights
I don’t think I need to cover the whole story of what happened in the New World in 1776, it’s well documented. In summary: on July 4th, 1776, the American Colonies formed the United States of America. They declared their independence and freedom from England. Thus the greatest, and freest nation on Earth was born. Yes, America has its sins and dark marks in its history. And yes, those sins and dark marks will be something we pay for forever. But one of the best things to come out of the United States’ independence is the freedom of religion.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”The Bill of Rights, Amendment I
Freedom of Religion
The 1st Amendment promises Americans the following:
- No law will be made respecting an establishment of religion.
- No law will be made prohibiting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or the right to peacefully assemble.
Here in the United States, we have the freedom of religion. We can worship whoever we want, whether it’s the Judeo-Christian God, Buddha, Allah, or no one at all. We have the freedom to worship who we choose, and the United States Government cannot tell us we can’t. Freedom of religion is why there is no official religion of the United States of America like some other countries have. Freedom of religion is why we don’t have to be afraid that the government will drag us from our homes, torture, jail, or kill us for believing the wrong religion like they do in countries like China.
Because of the freedom of religion, if you want to worship Jesus as the Son of God, you can! If you want to worship Allah, you can! If you want to worship the flying spaghetti monster, you can! If you believe that there is no god, that’s fine too. Here in America, we have the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech to discuss our religion, and the freedom to assemble peacefully to worship.
What Does Freedom of Religion Mean for Christians?
As a Christian, I believe in the Judeo-Christian God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and rose again on the third day. He now sits on the right hand of the Father. I also believe He will return one day for His Church. Because of freedom of religion, I am free to believe this. And I want others to come to that truth too. After all, the Bible says:
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.John 14:6 (NLT)
I want all the world to be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, I understand the reality that not everyone is going to accept Jesus. I understand that other people, either by choice or by ignorance, will reject the light of Jesus. And because of freedom of religion, they are free to do so.
God is a big fan of free will. From the very beginning, God included choice into humanity so that we can choose to follow Him or not. This is so we have the freedom to choose to worship Him and we’re not forced into it like robots. All throughout the Bible, we can see evidence of people having the choice to follow God.
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
God is a gentleman. He doesn’t push Himself on us. He shows us the options: His way, which is better for us, or the other way, which could lead to destruction. We are to choose life, but that’s the thing, we have the freedom to choose. And I think the Founding Fathers understood that. I think they knew that having a choice was important to the success of the fledgling nation they created. They wrote the 1st Amendment so that people can have that freedom.
But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:15 (NLT)
Here in the United States, people have the freedom to serve the Lord or whomever they wish. But I also have the freedom to share my faith with others under the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
I will be persistent, but I will not pester. I will offer truth, but I will not shove it down your throat. I will love you even if we don’t believe the same things. This is what all Christians are called to do. It’s what Jesus did.