Government vs. Freedom of Religion: How Will the Church Vote?

by Hope Taylor
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

In 2012, a critical issue is the freedom of religion.

The First Amendment of The Bill of Rights states, “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.”

Recently, the Catholic Church filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for violating their freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. This mandate to address a serious grievance is being led by Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Wuerl and the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., as well as forty other Catholic Archdioceses and Dioceses, organizations and universities.

Concerning the reason for the lawsuit, Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and current Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council, provides a good explanation:

One of the most ominous assaults on religious freedom is the proposed Health and Human Services contraception mandate. There has been nothing comparable to this in 225 years in this country. If the federal government can force not only Catholic institutions, but those of many other faith communities, and small businesses, and family-owned firms to provide drugs that can cause abortions or chemical contraceptives that violate their beliefs, then the First Amendment to the Constitution has effectively been repealed.

If we look back to 1972, one year before the United States Supreme Court landmark decision known as Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion, singer-songwriter Bill Withers released the classic song “Lean on Me”. The lyrics are as follows:

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong / And I’ll be
your friend / I’ll help you carry on / For it won’t be long / Til I’m
gonna need somebody to lean on . . . You just call on me, brother / When you
need a hand / We all need somebody to lean on”

These lyrics still ring true today. While all eyes are on the economy in the election of 2012, the Church must understand the times in which we live. As the federal government continues its mission of enlarging its reach while marginalizing the Church through redefining religious freedom, this is no time for business as usual in the hallowed halls of the religious community. This fight demands the Christian community arise, unite and prevail.

Those in the evangelical, prayer and new apostolic reformation streams, we must say to their Catholic friends, “Lean on me / I’ll be your friend / I’ll help you carry on”

This is not a Catholic, Protestant or Jewish skirmish. This is a spiritual war and one that absolutely demands we “lay aside every encumbrance and the (sectarian) sin which so easily entangles us and … run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

God will have a people in the United States who work together for the common good of His Kingdom and
cultural transformation. May this assault on religious freedom be the tipping point that unites those who love Him in the land that God has called to be the global guardian of freedom! As Nehemiah and his colleagues built a wall around the city they so loved, let us build a wall for freedom in America, which gives hope to our children and those children living under oppressive civil leaders in other lands.

As believers who have a Biblical worldview, here are three reasons why we must be educated and engaged in the presidential election: At the recent “Watchmen on the Wall 2012 National Briefing” hosted by the Family Research Council, our friend Ken Blackwell stated, “A government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take everything you have” .

This November, believers will cast their votes for leaders who will either continue to grow government at the peril of religious freedom, or for those who will guard it. Our God-given right and responsibility is to support those who are friends of the free expression of religion in all of life.

The next president could appoint three or four justices to the Supreme Court. Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA), says, “The prize for the next president is the Supreme Court” . Justices can serve decades, therefore, their decisions will either sustain a culture or decay it, which can be seen in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

On an International Leadership Embassy national conference call, Dr. Peter Waldron, founder and president of Christians Restoring America’s Greatness, and a political consultant for several presidential campaigns, pointed out that whoever wins the election will either give access to the White House for conservative and Christian thinkers or continue the existing lockout. Our experience working with church and civil government leaders makes it very clear that their advisers play a critical role of influence.

We close by confronting two mindsets hiding in the weeds of some minds in the body of Christ. Two words which are never found in the Scriptures as teachings for how the Church is to think or live are “passivity” and “pessimism.” If these mindsets don’t change before the election, we might as well say it like this: “Houston, we have a problem!”

Jesus was never passive or pessimistic, and now more than ever, we need to follow his example of engaging society for a governmental cause — a Kingdom of God cause.

Remember this quote by George Washington:

Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government . . . can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people (Quotes on Liberty and Virtue).

As we look toward November and beyond, may God grant us faith and works, and grace us to live consecrated unto Him and for His glory!

I urge everyone to decide who at the local level best represents your Biblical values as a candidate and volunteer to work, support and pray for them. Get to know those in other church and denominational communities and discuss how you can work together to protect religious freedom.

Hope Taylor is a writer, speaker and president of International Leadership Embassy (ile-dc.org), a ministry with the mandate to educate and engage the Church to transform culture and civil government within America and the nations. Hope pastored for 20 years and has served in numerous regional and national leadership capacities.

Image:courtesy of: Brandt Luke Zorn; creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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