With progressives getting more aggressive by the day, the freedom of religion clause under the First Amendment is perhaps more important now than when it was instituted. What those who oppose religious freedom don’t realize is that the right to practice one’s beliefs without fear of persecution or reprisal is something that allows us all to live in peace.
Concerning the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following in 1802:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
Throughout history, religious freedom has given us universities, hospitals, charities, and— believe it or not—economic growth.1 All of these are essential parts of everyday society from which everyone—religious or not—benefits.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback says that religious liberty “brings people to invest in people. It opens up minds and gets people building schools, colleges, hospitals, and clinics all over the place. It cannot be a restrictive environment in which people fear for their lives because of their beliefs. Religious groups can’t send people in to help if they fear for their lives.”
That is why it is so important that we protect our God-given right to practice our own religion. With that in mind, Brownback visited Colorado this past June and met with local religious leaders, including Andrew Wommack. They discussed the contributions faith-based organizations have made to society that so many take for granted.
Brownback also mentioned to Andrew and others the importance of religious organizations being educated about persecution. “The Chinese government won’t let these Muslims practice their faith,” he said. “It won’t let them take Muslim names. The government has more than 10,000 Uyghurs in re-education camps. Go to Burma right next door, and we have Rohingya (Muslims and Hindus) persecuted by Buddhists. And now the Burmese have turned on Christians in the north. The Kachin are being driven out similar to the Rohingya. Thousands are being killed. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of religious persecution around the world, and that’s why I’m here. This is a community that can help.”
On a global scale, it has become evident that advancing religious liberty in America helps even those in other countries. As stateside ministries are allowed to function, their global reach and impact are increased. If they lose the freedom to practice their faith, whether through persecution or censorship, the people who need them stand to lose the most. That is why we must meet the challenge of progressives who are growing more brazen in threatening religious liberties. If we will defend the freedom to practice our faith, we don’t just have the power to make a difference in the lives of Americans but also untold differences in the lives of others around the world.
1 Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, “Research,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/research.