The War on Religious Liberty

VII. Conclusion

The   war   on   religious   liberty   is   a   contest   between   two incompatible views of God, man, and government. The Founders’ view, established in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, holds that  God  created  man,  giving  him  freedom  and  inalienable rights.  Government’s  role  and  powers  are  limited  to  protect man’s freedom. Men are free to live according to the religious dictates of their conscience.

The   war   on   religious   liberty   is   a   contest   between   two incompatible views of God, man, and government. The Founders’ view, established in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, holds that  God  created  man,  giving  him  freedom  and  inalienable rights.  Government’s  role  and  powers  are  limited  to  protect man’s freedom. Men are free to live according to the religious dictates of their conscience.

The  Progressive  view,  on  the  other  hand,  replaces  God with human government. Freedom is the realization of human potential,  and  freedom  is  the  gift  of  the  state.  Government’s role and powers are expanded as needed to remake man in a way that fulfills his human potential. Since God does not exist, however, no one is free to live according to religious dictates.

Why  are  Progressives  waging  a  war  on  religious  liberty? Progressives  reject  America’s  founding  principles.(167) Although Progressives  have  enjoyed  significant  success  in  eroding  the

U.S.  Constitution  and  Bill  of  Rights,  religious  liberty  remains the  primary  obstacle  to  the  Progressive  transformation  of  our government  and  culture.  Progressives  are  therefore  waging a  war  on  religious  liberty,  particularly  the  religious  liberty  of Christians.  The  Progressive  philosophy  of  naturalism  deifies scientific  methodology  and  rejects  the  existence  of  God.(168) Progressive   jurisprudence   justifies   religious   intolerance   and denies legal protection to religious liberty.(169)

How  are  Progressives  waging  a  war  on  religious  liberty? The Progressive war on religious liberty employs the following strategies:   (1)   driving   Christian   influences   out   of  education,

(2)  driving  Christian  influences  out  of  the  public  square,  (3) government    discrimination    against    religious    speech    and activities, (4) destroying Christian businesses, religious institutions, and  educational  institutions  through  arbitrary  regulations  and excessive fines, (5) destroying freedom of speech for Christians,

(6)  using  federal  discrimination  laws  to  usurp  the  authority  of Christian  churches  and  schools  to  select  their  own  leaders, and  (7)  destroying  the  livelihoods  of  Christians  who  refuse  to abandon their faith.(170)

Why  should  we  protect  religious  liberty?  Religious  liberty must be protected for three reasons. (1) Religious liberty is the cornerstone  of  our  Constitution.  Our  Constitution  has  enabled unprecedented   progress   and   prosperity   in   America   and around the world.(171)  (2) Religious liberty and political liberty are inseparable.

Political  liberty  and  religious  liberty  developed together  in  the  same  struggle  against  tyranny,  and  neither can  flourish  in  the  other’s  absence.  Men  are  not  angels,  and any government  that  denies  religious  liberty to  its  people will inevitably deny political liberty as well.(172)  (3) Religious liberty is necessary for maintaining a free republic. Preserving our form of government requires a politically virtuous people, and political virtue requires religious liberty.(173)

How  can  we  protect  religious  liberty?  Six  legal  strategies have  proven  their  ability  to  protect  religious  liberty.(174)   (1)  The First  Amendment  requires  federal  and  state  governments  to accommodate the religious practices of individuals. Government must recognize the right of individuals to avoid practices that they consider contrary to their faith. (2) Government may not unduly burden the free exercise of religion by individuals, businesses, or   religious   organizations,   including   educational   institutions.

(3)  Government  cannot  engage  in  “viewpoint  discrimination” against Christian activities. (4) Government cannot limit the First Amendment free speech rights of Christians, including the right to  pray.  (5) Americans  are  free  to  honor  traditions  which  have both historical and religious value, including public prayer and memorials in public places. (6) The First Amendment guarantees the right of religious organizations and schools to choose their own ministers and teachers without government interference.

Thomas  Paine  wrote  in  1776  that  “these  are  the  times  that try  men’s  souls.  The  summer  soldier  and  the  sunshine  patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”(175)  The  future  of  our  republic  depends  on  protecting religious liberty. Each of us must do our part, in our families, in our schools, in the public square, and, if necessary, in the legal arena as well. The Morris Family Center for Law and Liberty at Houston Baptist University is dedicated to preserving religious liberty, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. We hope you will join us.

 

Endnotes

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