Learn to Explain and Defend Your Religious Liberty
by Melinda Penner
Every Christian needs to be able to explain what religious liberty is and why it’s important.
It’s ironic that this country traces its origins to people seeking a place for religious freedom and fleeing governments that dictated how they could practice their religious convictions. It’s ironic because we’re at a place in U.S. history where religious liberty is being redefined and isn’t valued, despite being the first freedom protected in our Constitution.
It’s being redefined as freedom to worship and believe what we wish, but not to live out those convictions in the public square, in our daily lives. That’s a radical redefinition because the fundamental principle of religion is finding what’s true about the world, and that informs our significance and guides how we live. Relativism and a new definition of pluralism have led many to believe that religion is a personal preference like ice cream flavors, but most religious traditions make truth claims about the world and therefore have implications for how followers live their lives. These become binding on our consciences. Thus, freedom of conscience and association have flowed directly from religious freedom because our lives are guided by our religious convictions.
We need to be able to explain what religious freedom is and why it’s important because many people no longer have any idea. As secularism in the West grows, many people don’t even know religious people. Their views of religion are shaped by the media, and in many cases, extreme and offensive examples. Many people don’t know what it looks like to see a Christian or other religious person live out their convictions; they have only caricatures. So we need to start from the beginning and explain what we believe is true and why we live it out. And for many Christians, they need to begin by understanding that, too…
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