George Santayana, a philosopher, famously stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” On Sunday, I will give some historical context to the issue of religious liberty. You may or may not be surprised to hear that early Baptists led the way in our nation. Without their influence, our Bill of Rights and first freedoms would look much different.
More importantly, the Bible has a lot to say about religious liberty. It’s first a biblical concept before a political concept. Religious liberty is firmly rooted in God’s truth. In the history of human civilization, no culture, society, or nation has flourished with other freedoms when the freedom of conscience (or religious liberty) was suppressed. When Paul addressed the crowd in Athens in Acts 17, he was free to express the gospel among other religious thoughts in public. Some ridiculed him. Others accepted the gospel. But he was allowed to speak!
Once you squash religious liberty, all other freedoms will crumble, too. The First Amendment in our Constitution is first because all other freedoms flow from it. We have freedom of speech because we need to talk about religious liberty. We have the freedom of the press to report about risks to religious liberty. We have the freedom of assembly to practice religious liberty. We have the freedom of petition to air grievances about threats to religious liberty. Christians should support religious liberty because the truth will prevail. Wait a minute. Why
would we give freedom to someone who believes the wrong thing?
It is a crucial question we will address on Sunday. What if religious liberty is less about political correctness and more about spiritual warfare? What if God wants governments to grant religious liberty so people can freely choose Him? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 that our struggle is spiritual. Whenever churches have forced religion on others, they become shells of what God has called them to be. I believe in liberty because Christianity does well in a free market of ideas. It’s not a set of rituals to be protected.
It’s not a list of doctrines to be enforced. We believe in the good news that always wins. Among all other religious stories, we’ve got the better story! In fact, we tell the true story of Jesus. And we should be free to share Him with others. Onward!