An Uproarious Fourth!
July 03, 2012 - Tuesday
Most of our Fourths of July have been given over to peaceful prayer and picnics, to sports and games, and to family fun and fireworks. America's birthday is always a good time for us to celebrate our 236 years of independence.
We said in 1776 that "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" gave us a right to be free. We never associated our freedom as a nation with a departure from the ways of the living God. Far from it. The Revolution was preached from hundreds of pulpits, all over the country. King George III was in no doubt; he deplored the "black regiment" of preachers who justified revolution. "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God," said many a pastor. And that slogan was carried on banners and flags.
That George III was a tyrant was not doubted. He had welded civil injustice to religious persecution. In Massachusetts, Protestant clergymen were threatened with a King's Bishop to be placed in authority over them. We saw clergymen from the King's church actually horsewhip, imprison, and defile Baptists in Virginia. They demanded the Baptists seek permission from their royal masters to preach and even to meet.
Such scenes of persecution prompted men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to take a bold stand for religious freedom. With their support for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom--introduced by Jefferson in 1779 and brought to fruition by Madison only after the war in 1786--the new republic held up a beacon for all the world to see. Religious freedom was not something separate or separable from political liberty. On the contrary, religious freedom was recognized by our Founding Fathers as the indispensable foundation for civil liberty. Without it, no paper guarantees will protect citizens' freedom anywhere.
Religious freedom is very much in danger around the world and here at home. Just last week, Egyptian TV showed the beheading of a Christian convert in Libya. This horrible act belies the promises we heard of fresh breezes in an Arab Spring. In Africa's largest country, Nigeria, more Christians have been murdered by Muslim fanatics than soldiers lost in the war in Afghanistan. Since the war in 2003 and the U.S. troop pullout from Iraq, the home of some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the Christian population has been dramatically reduced. Facing attacks and intimidation, hundreds of thousands of Christians have become refugees.
Here at home, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services mandate forcing Americans to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization has undermined religious freedom as nothing in our 236 years of independence has threatened it. We can identify strongly with Thomas Jefferson, who crossed out the word "Subjects" and inserted the word "Citizens" in the Declaration of Independence. Citizens exercise their freedom to preach and pray, and to practice their religion. Subjects must obey mandates, even if those mandates violate their consciences and their most deeply held beliefs. Our Supreme Court has for the first time mandated us to obey an unjust law or pay a penalty they call a tax. It's as if the British Parliament had not only taxed our tea, but forced us to buy it, too!
So let us have a Glorious Fourth. But let it be as well an Uproarious Fourth. Let's carry the message of religious and political liberty throughout this broad land. Let families as they gather pray together for our country in these perilous times. Let them read the Declaration, reflect on its real meaning, and commit to protecting its transcendent principles every day.
When one of the Signers affixed his bold signature to that dangerous document, he said, "We must all hang together." Indeed, said wise old Ben Franklin, "Or surely we shall hang separately." They pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. This year, with such grave challenges ahead, we can do no less as Christian citizens of the Great Republic.
Authored by Robert Morrison, FRC's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies