• Foundations of Truth

Preserving Freedom of Religion



The First Amendment of the American Constitution declares: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”


When this amendment was consented to by the people of the United States, our country was overwhelmingly Christian. The exhortation in Hebrews 11:6 declares that “without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”The idea of living out one’s faith was inextricably interwoven with our culture.


Expecting citizens to conduct their daily work as atheists was unthinkable. When the people shared a common religious language, it seems that there were fewer alleged conflicts between “church and state.”


For large portions of American history, Christianity was taken for granted as being part of American culture. As recently as 2007, 78% of Americans identified as Christian.

However, that number has subsequently dropped to 65%. [1]


This historical religious homogeneity is not an accurate picture of our world today. For the three years leading up to 2017 (the last year for which good data was available), the incidence of religious-based hate crimes steadily rose. [2] In a discouraging turn of events, a lawsuit has been filed against the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and its commissioner because a Christian adoption agency partnered with the department refused to place children with a Jewish couple. [3]


In a statement, the adoption agency, called Holston Home, said:


“Holston Home places children with families that agree with our statement of faith, and forcing Holston Home to violate our beliefs and place children in homes that do not share our faith is wrong and contrary to a free society.” [3]


Holston Home is quite right. In a multicultural society, the freedom of religion becomes more important, not less.


Unfortunately, not everyone can have everything they want. This is a basic principle of resource allocation. In this system of tradeoffs, we have to ask ourselves should a) governments regulate religious practices to prevent a few couples here and there from not being able to adopt a child or b) for people to be able to freely practice the principles of their conscience?

The answer to that question should be fairly obvious.


Christians do not have a choice in practicing their faith. Theologically speaking, we are obliged to live our lives in fear of the Lord. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”


For the sake of our own sacred belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is imperative that the First Amendment right to freely practice one’s religion be protected for people of all faiths. The authors of the First Amendment knew they had to start with the most important issues of life. Our Constitution provides extensive protections for religious freedom because it is essential for a free people.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

[1] “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace,” Pew Research Center (October 17, 2019) https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/

[2] Crispin Havener,“Studies: Religious violence up in recent years,” WJAC (March 15, 2019), https://wjactv.com/news/local/studies-religious-violence-up-in-recent-years

[3] Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons and Maggie Siddiqi, “A Tennessee couple's struggle to adopt shows religious freedom is under siege in America,” CNN (February 14, 2022), https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/15/opinions/tennessee-adoption-struggle-religious-freedom-graves-fitzsimmons-siddiqi/index.html

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