Since its beginning, the people of the United States of America have had and enjoyed religious freedom. We never thought it would ever be limited in any way and certainly never thought we might lose it.
Friends have lived and worked in countries where government was oppressive and where there were severe restrictions on religious freedom. I traveled to some of those areas. I knew people of China whose religious freedom was drastically curtailed or totally taken away. I have been in churches where their religious freedom was only a memory.
The same has been true in Europe and Africa. And it may not be long before that is the case in the United States. The religious freedom of individuals, schools and businesses is being trampled on every day.
Sometimes one must disobey the rules and regulations of government if he is to exercise his religious principles and the mission of his business. The times when religious freedom is denied continues to increase each day. We must be careful and determined that our religious freedom always remains as it is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States.
The enemies of our constitutional republic apparently are determined to wipe out our long-cherished freedoms. Freedom loving people must join together in every way possible to protect the freedoms that have come as the result of great sacrifice over many years. The price of freedom and liberty has been extreme and while it is being weakened, we must do all we can to protect and preserve it.
Brilliant writer of the last century, Eugenia Price, whom I had the privilege of meeting and whose uncle, K. Y. Plank, was a pastor in Charleston, WV, where Eugenia once lived, wrote: “Real freedom means to welcome the responsibility it brings, to welcome the God-control it requires, to welcome the discipline that results, to welcome the maturity it creates.”
As the process for selecting a new pope continues, it is easy to quote the famous television personality who was born in 1895 at El Paso, IL, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who said, “Freedom always relates to oughtness.”
One night, I was within inches of Bishop Sheen and Billy Graham as they sat at the dinner table. If that scene could be recreated, I would probably say, “Please, pardon me for interrupting your meal, but I would certainly like to meet Bishop Sheen and say hello to my friend, Billy Graham and to thank you both for the great blessing you are to me and millions of others.” Both would have smiled, and said, “It is our privilege also and thank you for stopping.” That is the kind of men they were. Most of the people at the very top are friendly and have time for others.
John Diefenbaker called freedom, “The right to be wrong, but not the right to do wrong.” We need more women and men in places of leadership who understand the value and strength of freedom and liberty. When our freedom “to be” is taken away, serious trouble and bloodshed will eventually come and civil war will follow.
Paul, of the first century, wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). It is easier, though difficult at times, to maintain our freedom and liberty than it is to lose them and then endure a long and costly fight to regain them.
By standing firm and prayerful in all things we may be well on our way to protecting and keeping our religious freedom granted by the Constitution of the United States.
© 2013 Wm. C. Ellis
All Rights Reserved
Dr. William “Bill” Ellis of Scott Depot is a weekly syndicated columnist who writes on a wide variety of subjects. Ellis has spent 25 years as a radio and television broadcaster and as a guest speaker and teacher on college campuses.