Would you want to live in a country that tells its citizens who to worship, how to worship and when to worship and make it mandatory? There are still a few countries that have strict state controlled religious practices. Some have relaxed their strict policies and now allow those with different beliefs to function without retribution.
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Independences day (July 4) in the United States, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, declaring our independence from Great Britain’s rule. John Adams, one of the signers wrote to his wife, “this will be the most memorable event in the history of America. It will celebrated by succeeding generations as a great anniversary festival.” He went on to say “it ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
Most of the early settlers of our country came from England and were referred to as separatist, by the British. They had fled from the political environment of England’s state controlled church that dictated church policy, which included mandatory Sunday and Holy Day church attendance and a prohibition on holding meeting or services not approved by the state. Violation of these acts were punishable with fines, imprisonment and in some circumstances even death. The founding fathers had a great devotion to God and Christian values, but they respected the rights of those with different beliefs and wanted to insure that future generations remained free from government control of religions, so they included in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution that congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment or religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
It’s been two hundred and forty years since the U.S. Constitution was enacted. The foresight of the founding fathers has served us well to this point in time. We need to pray that our current and future government leaders have the foresight, willingness and courage of our founding fathers to make good decisions and deal with tough problems to keep our country safe, free and prosperous and not interfere with our right to practice our chosen religious beliefs. God bless America.
The writer is the Ministering Elder and member of First Christian Church, Sidney, Ohio