Opinion

Hostility to Religious Liberty is Growing – Americans Must Defend It

religion religious freedomHostility to religious faith is growing. Americans need to be aware, and to know their rights. That includes the right to hold religious convictions without fear.

Unfortunately, modern activists aim to silence those of faith.  Motivations range from jealousy and prejudice to fear, envy, hatred, power politics and basic disaffection.  Whatever the cause, we are in a spike.  America’s future depends on vigilance, understanding history, and the law – which does not permit this hostility.

America was founded on the view that faith mattered, individually and to the nation.  Not only does democracy – and our Republic – require a moral society, but freedom to reach personal convictions was among the most important to our founding.

Periodically, we hear the Founders were faithless or did not care.  In fact, they cared deeply. Sprinkled throughout their writings are references to Providence, The Almighty and afterlife.

On the Jefferson Memorial: “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Another wall: “Almighty God hath created the mind free.  All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens…are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion…No man shall … suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.”

John Adams in 1789: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

Then Patrick Henry: “The great pillars of all government and of social life …virtue, morality, and religion … This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.”  These are the great strengths of America.

Poignantly, John Quincy Adams wrote: “Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth – that it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”

In sum, America was founded on reverence – for religious convictions.  If we abandon these, or choose not to defend them, we lose that foundation.  Recent scholarship, such as Mark Hall’s book “Did America Have a Christian Founding?” affirms the importance of religion in America.

All this is a backdrop.  A November 2019 survey by the Pew Center reports more than half of us still believe “churches and religious organizations” are important, “strengthen morality in society” and “bring people together.”  That fits with our Founders’ thinking.

Worrisome is the other 20 percent, who think churches “do more harm than good” and “pull people apart.”  That answer seems utterly insensible, until one digs deeper.

Hostility to religion seems to rest on religion’s role in politics.  Of course, religious convictions set the moral compass, which affects political choices – just as lack of compass, moral relativism, affects politics.  That is why our Founders thought religion was important.

In the Pew survey, something else emerges.  Some 54 percent of Americans view the Republican Party as “friendly” to religion – that is, preservation of religious freedom – while only 19 percent view the Democratic party as “friendly” to religion.

So, what used to be a consensus that religious freedom mattered to all Americans is fraying.  Americans see Republicans as three times more “friendly” to “religion” than Democrats.  While individual issues weigh heavily, the broader concern is that America’s commitment to religious freedom is under attack – that our Republic is sliding off the foundation our Founders thought vital for survival.

One recent event punctuates the threat to religious freedom.  This month, the US military reversed a longstanding policy.  The matter may seem trivial but is significant.

Military personnel have long been able to place a bible passage on “dog tags.”  In World Wars II, tags bore religious affiliation.  Since 9-11, soldiers have often put a verse on their tags.  Public accounts indicate some four million service members have dog tags with verses engraved.

The most popular is Joshua 1:9:3. “I can do all things … Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Inspirational, indeed.

One need not have served in the military to understand the value.  This act of faith amounts to free exercise of religion, comporting with both statute law and prevailing judicial opinions.

In a recent Supreme Court case, Justice Alito wrote: “A government that roams the land . . . scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.”  That hostility is not permitted.

Nevertheless, a complaint by one atheist produced a letter to the party licensed to engrave dog tags, saying: “You are not authorized to put biblical verses on your Army products.”

Will this end up at the Supreme Court?  Maybe.  Will the policy be reversed?  Will service members retain the right to wear a Bible verse in combat?  One can only hope.

In the meantime, the danger is this:  Religious freedom is under pressure.  We are in a spike.  As always, America’s future depends on the current generation’s vigilance – opposing hostility to religion and those of faith.  The Founders defended religious liberty.  We must also.

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James
1 year ago

All liberals need to be voted out of office but the American people are to complacent to do any thing , they keep voting for the same socialist ignorant liberals again and again .

Roy Law
1 year ago

I have read the comments by Jim A with interest. If he wishes to be an atheist, that is his exercising his free will. But what I also found interesting is his seemingly absolute hatred of anything or anyone who professes his Christian faith.

.Jim A.
1 year ago

“…Unfortunately, modern activists aim to silence those of faith…”
And the christians aim to silence those of us that reject their belief in a god.

.Jim A.
1 year ago

Many of the founders of the “New World” fled their home countries, and religious persecution. YET, when there were visitors to their settlements, the visitors WERE REQUIRED to adhere to the tenets of that settlement- on pain of severe punishment.
Ergo! The new world was founded on hypocrisy.
Many of The US founders {Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, etc.} were secret agnostics. To be openly Atheist, or even agnostic, was to invite all manner of punishments, abuses– including disqualification from public office.
Up until the early 1930s, the printing or utterance of anything the christians considered blasphemous, was a felony.
So much for religious freedom.

Ron
1 year ago

This Country was founded upon religious principal. A person should read the Constitution, if you don’t think that men were inspired to write the Constitution. I think you need to read it again with an open mind & heart ♥️!

Hal Wilkins
1 year ago

Remember it was the Catholic Church that endorsed the removal of reading a bible verse to start of class in the of public schools. Today there are religious organizations that continue these actions to limit religious activities anywhere based on their narrow interpretations of their beliefs.

TheTruth
1 year ago

We as Christians need to fight to the end for the values God has taught us. America is great because we put God first. He deserves all the credit for our greatness!!!

.Jim A.
Reply to  TheTruth
1 year ago

You do not speak for me nor my non belief in any god.

Fay B
1 year ago

As alarming as it is, it is not just the political/social left that is trying to fracture our religious or faith life and Constitutionally guaranteed rights, It is also the people who claim to be believers, be they Christian or Jewish, who no longer raise their children in the faith. They no longer support their Churches with offerings, pledges or tithes, (Churches are a business and have bills to pay just like every one of us). They convince themselves they don’t need to attend services or take their youngsters to Sunday School in order to be a good Christian. They say they can worship anywhere…..but do they? Probably not. When they stand before the Lord how will they respond when asked what they did to battle the onslot? We have to admit to and accept our individual responsibility for the vast numbers a churches around the country that are being forced to lock their doors because of low attendance. Did you all know that currently, there are more (active) Christians, at risk to their own lives in Africa than in the United States. WE CAN FIX THIS. Are you a Christian or a religious Jew? We fix it or we loose it, the choice is ours.

.Jim A.
Reply to  Fay B
1 year ago

Fay B
You are ignoring those of us that do not believe in your religion, church or Sunday school. Not only am I not a good christian, I’m not a christian, nor do I believe in ANY religion. I believe, and can prove that more people have been killed in the name of religion, than all other reasons combined.

Pat R
1 year ago

Morals and ethics are guidelines of good behavior. When enough of society’s desires do not fit with those morals and ethics, humans will find ways to reinterpret the rules (or throw them out altogether) so they no longer feel restraint to do as they wish or guilt afterward. That is where we are today and I daresay Hollywood has for many years pushed those restraints to the limit and given the impression “everyone does it, it’s natural”. So now we have millions of abortions annually, and producers rushed to incorporate gay behavior in movies. And what’s this mess about indoctrinating kindergarten on up to accept gay, cross-dressers, etc.? Pedophilia will be legalized next. We are in a “bullying” society now and anyone who speaks up in opposition is labeled with some hate label and screamed down. A single person cannot go against it alone; we need to amass and stand against this move to take our freedoms.

.Jim A.
Reply to  Pat R
1 year ago

Pat R
You complain and moan about YOUR freedoms being taken, yet you have ZERO QUALMS about taking the freedoms of those that do not believe the same as you.
I’m surprised you didn’t claim the “sodomites” want to legalize marriage with animals.

Jeannine
1 year ago

Hillary told an LGBT audience “the power of government must be used to change long held cultural and religious beliefs “. I think of 2 Maccabees where a mother encourages her 7 sons to sacrifice their lives in obedience to God rather than submit to government. I pray that me and my family will remain faithful to God, not godless government. Abortion and Climate Change are their two sacraments, not baptism and Eucharist. Children are being indoctrinated into atheism even in preschool. Time for families to strengthen their children into their faith. Strong faith can alleviate many problems, divorce, abortion, adultery, addiction, suicide, depression, mental illness, homelessness etc.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

.Jim A.
Reply to  Jeannine
1 year ago

Our government has NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to dictate the morals of its citizens, NOR to dictate what a woman is permitted, or not permitted, to decide what is best for her physical, moral, or medical well being.

Diana
1 year ago

That is a fact and all our Rights we must demand them held up and any politicians that tries to change twist or abolish any of our Constitutional Rights must be removed and prosecuted immediately it is TREASON

.Jim A.
Reply to  Diana
1 year ago

Diana
Then is it treason to attempt to restrict my freedom FROM religion?

stevenjacobs
1 year ago

The churches are leading the charge against religion

Mary
Reply to  stevenjacobs
1 year ago

That could be frightening when you look at the changes taking place in the churches! We are trying to “create” God in our image instead of His creating us in His. We can be more worldly, and still be Christian’s, if we make the rules!!

.Jim A.
Reply to  Mary
1 year ago

Mary
Have you considered the possibility that your god created man in his own PSYCHOLOGICAL image, rather than physical image?

Rich
Reply to  Mary
1 year ago

One needs to attend a church that preaches only what the Bible says.

Margie
1 year ago

Excellent article. For many years now, the liberals have been pushing & dictating their beliefs onto everyone-Forcing all to accept their satan led wants & desires. Our beliefs as Christians are literally being stolen mmmfrom us & are being destroyed on a daily basis. Satan is hard at work. Christians need to put on their armor of GOD, stand up for our rights, stop accepting satans forced issues, never stop praying whether in private or in public. We are Christian American Citizens-free to worship, free to speak, free to believe. May GOD bless President Trump, for he truly loves America & her citizens. And praise GOD for our founding fathers who had the foresight to protect America.

Helen Volk
1 year ago

Individual freedom of one person should not adversely affect the individual freedom of another’s.

Pat R
Reply to  Helen Volk
1 year ago

Totally agree. How, when liberals talk of benefit of community/collective, is it that 3-5 people or even a single person is able to stop what thousands have been & still want to do? It hasn’t made sense to me since one person (O’Hare) managed to get prayer taken out of public school, and no one or group fought it. It just continued after that, one freedom at a time.

.Jim A.
Reply to  Pat R
1 year ago

Pat R.
Prayer belongs in CHURCH, NOT the schools.

Rich
Reply to  .Jim A.
1 year ago

That was the ONLY way I made it through 12 years of public education!

Delma Freeman
1 year ago

Christians, we are in a battle. We must speak up, support our local Churches, pray without ceasing. Tpray without ceasing means to live in a spirit of prayer each day. We cannot lose this battle, study the scriptures and write your representative, your congressman, your councilman and your mayor. We can be silent no longer. Blessings to you and your family.

.Jim A.
Reply to  Delma Freeman
1 year ago

Delma Freeman
Are you advocating for the return to imprisoning and/or banishing anyone that refuses to pray to ANY god?
The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the freedom FROM religion, as well as the freedom OF religion.

.Jim A.
Reply to  Delma Freeman
1 year ago

Delma Freeman
I neither need, nor want, your blessings.

Marvin Walker
1 year ago

I support WITHOUT reservation every word of the passages I have just read attributed to our founding fathers.

Dr. Ken Matto
1 year ago

Last Saturday (12/14/19) Trump signed an Executive Order which elevated Judaism and Israel above the law. Trump has illegally stepped on the First Amendment making Judaism the most untouchable religion of the land. When we broke away from England in 1776, we left the Church of England in England. Christians need to realize that Trump is under the authority of Jared Kushner who takes his orders from Netanyahu. Israel is one of the most apartheid nations in the world and they are not the holy land. Too many churches and Christians worship Israel all because of bad theology being taught by pulpit prostitutes. Trumps Executive order must be rescinded because it violates the Constitution by establishing a national religion. Since when as American Christians are we not allowed to speak out against false religions. In Texas people who needed federal funds after the hurricane were forced to sign a loyalty agreement to Israel. Since when do we make American Citizens loyal to a foreign power. Trump should be impeached but not for the dog and pony show in Washington but for violating the Constitution and establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment.

Clark Kent
Reply to  Dr. Ken Matto
1 year ago

Do you paint your tinfoil hat or leave it shiny?

Word of Truth
Reply to  Dr. Ken Matto
1 year ago

Where is your proof for anything that you said?

Becky Leer
Reply to  Dr. Ken Matto
1 year ago

I live in a small town outside of Houston, there were over a thousand that needed funds after the hurricane Harvey waters recessed and being on the city relief commit I never once saw any application being signed that required any loyalty agreement to Israel. I think by reading your comments your a mole for the other side. Sorry but your totally wrong.