U.S. Constitution

Religious Freedom Matters

posted in: Freedom, God, Justice, Wisdom | 0

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps you’re familiar with this passage that was ratified in 1791. If not, you have just read the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I am referring to a set of ten amendments that our founding fathers added to the United States Constitution.

Wisdom by Experience

To grasp the wisdom of the Bill of Rights, we must put ourselves in the shoes of those who penned our nation’s founding documents. They had all come from Europe—a continent that had been plagued for centuries by religious strife. In particular, it was common practice for government leaders to unjustly oppress people and violently suppress dissent in the name of religion.

Having suffered at the hands of European monarchies for so many years, a large representation of Americans championed a form of government that would guarantee individual rights.

Thomas Jefferson, who inspired the Bill of Rights, said, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” The U.S. Constitution, as important as it is, would never have been ratified if not for the promise to add the Bill of Rights immediately thereafter.

Religious Freedom Matters

I find it interesting that the freedom of religion was the very first item in the very first amendment. The founders of our nation understood something that is being lost to our day: the freedom of religion is the foundation to freedom itself. Religious freedom matters!

In our culture, we see a strong push to preserve the freedom of the press, the right to protest peacefully, and also the opportunity to address grievances. At the same time, our freedom of speech has come under fire. And our freedom of religion maybe more so.

Why is the freedom of religion so important? Freedom is a God-given right that was first conferred upon humanity in the garden of Eden. Giving Adam and Eve the choice to choose between the various trees of the garden provides solid evidence of God’s intent.

While the Lord reigns over the earth, He does not control all our actions. Within the sphere of His sovereignty, we each have the freedom to make choices that will one day be called into account.

On the other hand, humanity is plagued by a natural bent toward control. In painful fashion, history displays our human compulsion to lust for power and control. Freedom, in the rare times that it has existed throughout history, has always been tenuous.

As imperfect as our expressions of religion might be, if those freedoms are lost, the America that we have known for over 200 years will cease to exist. And the proclamation of liberty that once characterized this great nation will fall silent.

If religious freedoms are removed as a result of our culture wars, our entire nation will pay a steep price. No one will be spared. Even those whose blind zeal sees religion as an enemy of humanity will squander the rights and freedoms that they have long taken for granted.

The first article of the First Amendment was as intentional as the Constitution itself. If our freedom of religion is sacrificed on the altar of inclusion, the seemingly timeless vision for liberty that has been purchased and preserved by the blood of our ancestors will be lost until who knows when.

Religious freedom matters. May we never forget it!


Bob Santos is the author of the Community Prayer Devotional and several other spiritually minded books.