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Friday, July 22, 2011

“Freedom of Religion” or “Freedom from Religion”

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-For over 200 years, we have celebrated our independence--our freedom to govern our own lives. What a wonderful country we live in--despite all its faults and failures, what wonderful freedoms are offered to us as citizens of America.

One of those freedoms is what the Bill of Rights calls—FREEDOM OF RELIGION. We can believe and worship God without punishment or treat.

Many Christians around the world die for that right each and every year. Yet in America--a country established for that very right--many will not give God the time of day.

What has happened that made millions now celebrate the "Freedom from Religion" instead of the "Freedom of Religion?" Many have tried and succeeded in getting God kicked out of our public places.

In an edition of Reader’s Digest, an article by former Secretary of Education William Bennett entitled "What Really Ails America" had this to say ... "Today, much of society ridicules and mocks those who are serious about their faith. America’s only respectable form of bigotry is bigotry against religious people. And the only reason for hatred of religion is that it forces us to confront matters many would prefer to ignore.”

To a great extent our society has gotten what it wanted - A society without God. But what good has it done? Since 1960, while the gross domestic product has nearly tripled, violent crime has increased at least 560 percent. Divorces have more than doubled. The percentage of children in single-parent homes has tripled. And by the end of the decade 40 percent of all American births and 80 percent of minority births will occur out of wedlock.

In 1940, teachers identified the top problems in America’s schools as: talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise and running in the hall. In 2000, teachers listed drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, suicide, rape and assault.

We have become inured to the cultural rot that is setting in. People are losing their capacity for shock, disgust and outrage.

What is the answer? Bennett concludes with these words. ”Today we must carry on a new struggle for the country we love. We must push hard against an age that is pushing hard against us. If we  have full employment and greater economic growth-if we have cities of gold and alabaster-but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed.”

How can we turn this nation back to God? The Bible says, "If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)

Can America return to God? YES! But what this passage actually says, is, “If God’s people will return to him.” “My people!”

Yes! It’s a reference to Israel … but can it be applied to us today? Can America return to God? Maybe the better question is: Will people who call themselves Christian return to God?

[Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church]

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