The Exercise of Religious Freedom
This article was written by Mrs. Nancey McMurtry, BS in Business, major in Journalism
find in Genesis 1: 27 that God created man in His image and the Bible further
expands upon the fact that God endowed His creation with liberty. Those facts have
engendered the conclusion and concept that Man created in the image of God
has dignity and equality and forms the basis for the theological and
fundamental principle of human liberty; particularly the liberty to worship God
and to approach religious discussion in any forum whether that forum is within
or without the Church House.
distinctive expression of this foundational fact was incorporated within the
Declaration of Independence wherein one of the Truths to be self-evident was
declared to be that all Men are created equal and that they are endowed by
their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Let it be observed that every
member of the Congress sitting in Philadelphia in 1776 signed the Declaration
after making approximately 90 changes and adding two paragraphs to the original
draft document. By affixing his
signature to the document each member of Congress agreed with the expression
that they were created and the Creator had given each of them rights.
The direct implication here is that God the Creator, not government nor any
king, had granted these rights and that it was not within governments
purview to diminish any of those rights. This Declaration is held in great
esteem by most Americans, but sometimes without remembering or knowing exactly
what it says with the result that the fuzzy point of remembrance is simply
freedom without any reference for evaluating the source of freedom or freedom
from what or freedom to do what.
founders of the US believed the fundamental principle of God given rights so
strongly that when time came to write and adopt a constitution for the federal
government the Bill of Rights was added in 1791 to explicitly state again
those liberties over which the federal government was to have no say.
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof;
right was deemed so precious it was the first one listed
among the other rights stated with the first Amendment. These are the
unalienable rights referenced previously in the Declaration of Independence. It
is important to note the exact wording of this amendment. It does not use the words freedom of
worship, but it does strictly prohibit laws which would restrict the free
exercise of religion which obviously includes worship.
closely to the words of current political leaders or those who would attempt to
restrict religious freedom.
supposedly quoting the Constitution of the United States of America the words
used are often freedom of worship.
Freedom of worship by concept could limit the exercise of religion to
the Church House and perhaps our homes, but exclude the exercise of religion in
the public square. Does this
interpretation sound familiar?
notice within the Constitution that the fundamental belief in God as creator
is not reiterated. Why? I do not recall reading or hearing anyone else
raise this issue or answer the question.
Perhaps it is because so many people confuse the wording of the
Declaration with the wording in the Constitution. A federal judge in Texas
quite recently issued a ruling based on the supposed wording in the
Constitution that all Men are created equal. That judge should have known
better! My own explanation for the
omission of the concept of God as creator from the Constitution lies within the
Declaration itself. The founders considered that to be a self-evident fact
which did not require repeating in another document. After all, if it is so
self-evident everyone should know it. What we are fighting today is the attempt
of government and others to redefine what the Constitution says and what it
means. If we permit those around us to incorrectly quote the Constitution and
limit our exercise of religious freedom to freedom of worship, we have failed.
We have failed to grab a firm hold on our God-given unalienable right and
defend it as such. We have also failed to fight for what the founders of our
nation fought for and died to defend.
And while this discussion has been centered around the US, the
fundamental fact that God created Man in His own image and gave him unalienable
rights is not geographically limited. That truth exists for every person
no matter in what nation he resides.
question is this. Are we going to exercise our religious freedom? That means
outside the Church House. To me, that sounds like a daunting task as the false
interpretation has become so ingrained in public thought. This question is precisely what is being
debated in the US Supreme Court at the present time. Must an entity, in this case the entity is
Hobby Lobby, provide something to its employees that is contrary to its
religious beliefs? In other words, are
the owners of Hobby Lobby free to exercise their religious beliefs? A very straightforward reading of the First
Amendment to the Constitution would say yes. The reasoning is that Congress
is prohibited from enacting a law which would restrict that freedom. Every
believer in this country should be praying that the Supreme Court has the
capability to both read and reason and the courage to stand against political
people of the US need to be educated as to what the Constitution actually says.
My practical solution to doing this is to start small, but start. Whenever you
hear an inaccurate statement of our religious freedom, correct the one speaking
in a courteous manner. If it is written
in an article in the newspaper, send a comment correcting the concept. If it is
a discussion on the Internet, post a response. In doing so we are not only
reaffirming what the Constitution says; we are reaffirming our God-given right.
rewards a diligent effort.