One of the legacies citizens of the United States enjoy is the freedom to share our religious beliefs and exercise our faith. We may assume that such freedoms will always be available to our children and grandchildren. But increasingly, current events paint a different possible scenario for the future. To cite just a few of many examples:
- An official at the Houston National Cemetery, managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, banned prayer and even “God Bless You” from being said at the cemetery.
- In New York, town clerks must choose between their jobs and their faith after the state legalized same-sex marriages — an act which requires clerks to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.
- In Vermont, owners of an inn were sued for refusing to rent their facilities for a same-sex wedding party. Likewise, a church group in New Jersey lost part of its tax-exempt status for declining to host a same-sex ceremony on its property.
- Grieving parents whose teenage children were killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado were denied the ability to include religious symbols and messages as part of a display memorializing their children.
- Under new laws, faith-based adoption charities in Illinois, Massachusetts, California and Washington, D.C., have stopped foster care and adoption services rather than violate their religious beliefs by placing children in unmarried or same-sex homes.
It's horribly wrong that grieving friends and families are told to stop praying and not to mention God's name. And it's alarming when government employees are asked to forfeit their religious beliefs in exchange for their jobs, and private business owners are forced to choose between faith and earning a living — often in the face of stiff penalties.
We cannot assume that the religious freedom we have enjoyed will be passed along to future generations if we fail to act to defend these liberties. Decisions regarding religious freedom are made in the public square, and that’s an arena Christians can influence for the good.