I am no expert on American constitutional law, nor am I so familiar with the first amendment that I would dare to proclaim myself an expositor of truth when it comes to interpreting it. Add to that the fact that I write from several thousand miles away in about as remote a part of the south Pacific as you can get, and some may wonder that I would dare to comment at all. I am aware that there are many and varied arguments that permeate the debate on how the first amendment should be understood, especially at the base level of church/state union.
So what qualifies me to dare comment on an issue that is so, ummm…American? Well, first off, I am a Christian. And second, American political decisions do tend to have an effect that creates ripples and collateral damage far removed from her own borders. And thirdly, and most importantly, Biblical prophecy tells us that there is going to come a time when religious freedom worldwide becomes a mere idea and a long lost hope of the persecuted. It is my belief that prophecy indicates that religious freedom first becomes an endangered species in the United States, despite the intents and purposes of her founding fathers, and the resulting constitution and Bill of Rights. This of course will surprise many, not only because of the deep respect for the constitution most Americans have, (and rightly so…it is a unique document …although I have heard it said that rather than written in stone as many believe, it is but lightly written upon paper with a very erasable pencil), but also because the United States is not actually named in the Bible thus it is only with some interpretive study that she can be found. Such a course is of course highly debatable and controversial, yet I will stand by what I’ve said.
Atheists in the U.S. have of recent times decried religious freedom rallies as promotions for theocracy. I do have some sympathy with their view. Throughout history religious ‘freedom’ has often been promoted with the intent that the majority religion have the right to enforce their beliefs on the minority, as happened in medieval Europe, both in Protestant and Catholic countries. It is not without a little fear that I see the current strength of the religious ‘right’ in America using its great leverage to promote her pet candidates at all levels of American politics, with the intent no doubt to bring about a ‘Christianised’ nation through its civil or secular authorities.
One must remember that although the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written and signed by and large by godly people, those documents were specifically designed to ensure freedom of conscience and religious liberty, even liberty for unbelievers. The US government as a political entity is not, nor ever was , a “Christian” government. And the only true hope for America, and the rest of the world, is not in the “Christianizing” of the government, but in the heartfelt deep life-changing repentant soul-searching conversion of the individual American people.
I think that what we must acknowledge is that historically, America was embarking on a brand new revolutionary concept. Religious liberty, freedom of conscience. A civil rule without a king, a religious nation without a pope. Coming from a Europe that was just emerging from over 1000 years of papal tyranny the founding fathers of your nation were establishing a nation with an exclusively protestant ethic, even though it took some time for even protestants to learn.
We as Christians have far more to fear from governments with a religious agenda (including ‘Christian’ agendas…read again Revelation 13:11-17) than any secular government. Interestingly, history tells us that Christian communities thrived very well under the rule of such as Genghis Khan, because he was neutral in matters of religion. (Although he was certainly less than tolerant with those who opposed him politically.)
Let us not however forget the past, the price paid for the freedoms we enjoy, and out of frustration or lack of faith in God’s power, or willingness, to establish His kingdom among us, let us not resort to government legislation to reinstate those virtues which we may deem lost or in danger of being eroded, as it seems so many in the churches seem to be espousing recently. That my friends, will be a greater calamity than any could imagine.