What Does American Freedom Mean to a Christian?

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By Carol Swain, CP Op-Ed Contributor
July 4, 2012|1:43 pm

American freedom should mean that Christians have the right to live by the dictates of their Holy Bible, as long as they honor and respect the Constitution. The First Amendment is the basis of our claim to religious liberty, while the Declaration of Independence acknowledges our subjection to a higher power. The First Amendment states that:

"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."

Originally intended to protect the people from the excesses of the national government, it now binds state governments as well.

The Declaration of Independence states that some truths are self-evident, meaning that a person cannot be ignorant of them. These truths include the fact that "all men are created equal' and "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . ." The government has a role to protect the liberty of its citizens. That is why the framers established a system of limited government. Power rests in the hands of the people.

American freedom for Christians should mean that in a country where more than 75 percent of the people profess a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there should be freedom to serve Him according to the dictates of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Christians should never be forced to participate in the murder of the unborn or to embrace activities defined in the Scriptures as immoral.

When we reach the point where state and national governments and private institutions use non-discrimination laws and verbiage to oppress and discriminate against Christians, then we have lost an important freedom. At Vanderbilt University, Christian students have been told that they can no longer require that Christian organizations be headed by Christian leaders, nor can they ask leaders of Christian organizations to lead Bible study or worship or live a Christian lifestyle. Many Christian groups have been forced off the Vanderbilt campus. At some Universities, Christian students can be expelled from counseling programs if they express their personal beliefs about the morality of a gay life style. In such an environment, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association have become meaningless. Political correctness and intimidation at the hands of secular humanists and zealous atheists rule the day.

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America is scarcely recognizable. When will the pendulum swing in the other direction? The Declaration of Independence further states:

That to secure these rights (life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness), Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

American Christians put their hope in God and in the ability of a nation founded on strong principles to arise and fight for the freedoms guaranteed them through the wisdom of their Forefathers.

Carol Swain is professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
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