One Shining Moment in the Heart of a Community

Enthusiasm! Inspiration! Excitement! Motivation! These are powerful and stirring words, but they do not fully capture everything that happened last week in a dynamic Williamsburg, VA church. Over 300 government leaders, pastors, ministry leaders and praying citizens mobilized for a single purpose—to join the nationwide Call to Prayer for America, a growing movement spearheaded by America’s government leaders. The significance was not lost among all those present, knowing that Williamsburg served as the capitol city of the original thirteen colonies.

This was only one of many similar meetings now taking place all across the country, gatherings that reflect the compelling tradition of government leaders and pastors uniting together—taking a public stand for the cause of religious liberty, the freedom of conscience, and admonishing the nation to turn back to God. From the opening prayer, through the rousing words of national, state and local government leaders, and to the solemn signing of the Call to Prayer Proclamation, the sense of hope among all who attended was palatable.

Virginia State Delegate, Brenda Pogge, spoke passionately about recent and egregious attacks on religious liberties, while Virginia Senator, John Cosgrove, urged participants to remember the importance of advocating for our Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom in government and policy.

Congressman Rob Wittman (VA) described how members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus meet in Room 219 and faithfully pray together every week before they go into the legislative session. He told some of the encouraging victories that have occurred because leaders are committing themselves as frontline defenders of faith in the U.S. Capitol. Many expressed their joy and appreciation when he shared about the LIFFT America Religious Liberty Summit in March and the PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer Initiative that was launched earlier this year.


Each person at the Williamsburg event was then invited to sign the Call to Prayer Proclamation and commit to unceasing petition on behalf of our country—the same way that nearly 1,000 government leaders have done so already.  

Pastor Mark Morrow of Crosswalk Church and Bishop John Gray of Bethel Restoration Center urged the pastors who were there to take the next step and schedule a PrayUSA Sunday at their own churches, invite a government leader to stand with them in the pulpit and call the congregation to repentance and prayer. 

Since launching a few months ago, the PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer Initiative is becoming an amazing story of hope and promise, as almost 1,000 government leaders, over 130,000 citizens and more than a dozen leading Christian organizations, have joined the unprecedented challenge to pray for America. We are believing for a million voices that are willing to stand up for our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and to earnestly seek God’s hand of mercy and grace.

If you haven’t done so already, won’t you join us today! Every voice that speaks up…every hand raised in a show of commitment…every dollar offered as a pledge of support, helps get the message out. Never has more been at stake as we see the country reeling in a cultural and moral vacuum. You really are making a difference and we must continue to push forward, confidently and with boldness.

We are both sobered and strengthened by government leaders trusting God in prayer, and in-turn, calling the nation to its knees.  Such a sincere gesture moves the heart and hand of God. Perhaps one of the most illuminating examples comes from President Abraham Lincoln, who in a moment of national crisis during the Civil War, said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”

Since our founding, National Days of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance have been proclaimed hundreds of times by our government leaders to encourage citizens to return to God, asking Him to heal our land. This has been an enduring and time-tested act of humility, long embedded into the fabric of American history.

In each instance, God has graciously answered and met America’s needs. This is our moment in time. This is our chance and part of our story. Our leaders are showing the way. Let us seize the moment, and let us resolve to pray with them, pray for them, and pray for America. As long as we continue to believe in the power of prayer—prayer that is unified in its vision and purpose, and according to the will and Word of God—anything is possible. Friends…let us pray!

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Three Words That Changed The World

We celebrate the birth of our Constitution, which ushered in a whole new form of Ten Commandments-We The Peoplegovernment, with religious freedom as its bedrock. The profound phrase, “We the People,” forever placed the responsibility of stewarding our freedom in the hands of each one of us. With each passing week, the United States is edging precariously closer to the unthinkable, a tangible and serious loss of our historic freedoms.

Too many citizens remain uniformed, unaware and in some cases, simply unconcerned. When it comes to the growing clash of worldviews in this country or the need for proactive civic engagement, there are numerous examples across the national landscape that are grave reminders of an emerging postmodern culture in America.

Furthermore, the effort to reframe and marginalize Christian morality and faith as “hate speech” within the national discourse is cause for concern. Business owners—photographers, bakers, florists, and others—are being sued, some even closing their doors, for simply adhering to their values, beliefs and their rights of conscience in an honorable fashion. Teachers, counselors, city and county officials, our men and women in uniform, chaplains, students, and even government officials, are being reprimanded for acknowledging God or Jesus Christ in almost any public forum.

We simply cannot and must turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to these trends. The consequences are sobering and they are potentially tragic. Sadly, it was after the fact—after something could have been done—after he languished in a German concentration camp during World War II—that Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor and theologian made his famous quote:
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

We must help wake up the sleeping giant—the Church—before it’s too late!

Protecting religious liberty does not infringe on anyone’s rights. No one should be forced to choose between strongly held religious beliefs and his or her livelihood, especially not in a nation with such a rich spiritual heritage. We have the right to exercise our deeply held beliefs without undue government interference, legislative maneuvering and state-fueled public derision. Nevertheless, “We the People” must decide whether we are going to stand up against undue censorship, the dismantling of our heritage, and efforts that give the state the ability to force us to leave our God-given liberties at the door of the public square—our places of business, our barracks, schools and government entities. It is our choice and it is time to make a bold declaration to the halls of power and to do so with a unified voice.

America’s Founders debated and intentionally established our government based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. They understood Christianity provided the only valid moral basis that would secure freedom for all Americans. These principles—embedded in the Constitution, but increasingly discarded to the curb of cultural or political convenience—were written to help ensure the “public square” remained neutral ground, where every voice was heard and every citizen was free to advocate for his or her position. Our Founders were confident that in the marketplace of ideas, truth would always win out in a free society.

September 17, is Constitution Day and it commemorates the day in 1787 that delegates who were part of the Constitutional Convention signed this historical document in Philadelphia. The official day of celebration was set by Congress in 2004 and while July 4th is recognized as the birthday of our independence from the British, September 17th is the birthday of the American form of government—the greatest example of freedom in the world.

Statue of libertyWe encourage all Americans not to abandon the biblical order that embraces our Founding Father’s vision for this democratic Republic, but rather, to strongly advocate for the core principles that support and defend freedom, not only at every level of government, but through the policies and laws impacting day-to-day life. The best hope for true freedom comes when Judeo-Christian values are preserved and protected.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Likewise, Abraham Lincoln admonished the country in saying, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

Even a casual review of history gives rise to hundreds of examples where government legislators, presidents, battle-tested generals and many others have staunchly expressed a profound dependence upon God and His providence. To separate this nation from its First Amendment Freedoms and its dependency on a Sovereign and gracious Creator, would dismantle our Constitutional Republic.

Yet, we are encouraged because there are signs of hope and renewal. In the same spirit of our Founders and past national leaders, many of today’s government leaders are once again calling Christian people of goodwill to unceasing prayer. We believe America is worth fighting for. Together, through prayer and action, we are confident America can be restored. Join the Movement! Visit our Web site and learn how you can become involved today.

Some say, “It takes an army.” Others say, “It takes a village.” I say, “It takes the Church!”

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Remember it is ‘In God We Trust’

The nation’s police force has been in the spotlight for months now. As a (1)ponse to the ongoing threats and violence directed toward law enforcement members around the country, this month, one police department in Childress, a small, rural and conservative community in the Texas panhandle, has decided to acknowledge where they put their trust and Who that trust is in. Police Chief, Adrian Garcia, indicated, “It’s time we get back to where we once were,” and then made a decision to place, “In God We Trust” decals on the bumpers of all his patrol cars. Garcia’s decision mirrors that of police and sheriff’s departments all over the country.

In Randolph County, Missouri, Sheriff Mark Nichols made his decision to add the decal to his fleet out of a sense of patriotism, “It’s our nation’s motto and we want to be patriotic toward our country.” Likewise, law enforcement agencies in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia are all standing up and saying, “Enough!” For Gary Parsons, the sheriff in Lee County, Virginia, “It’s not only a symbol of moral values, but also a symbol of patriotism.”

Will you stand with these courageous officers who faithfully protect the public and put themselves into harm’s way every time they wear that badge? Encourage them. Pray for them. Consider following their lead by displaying our National Motto on your car. Join hundreds of thousands who have already placed an “In God We Trust” window cling on their car.

Time and again, anti-faith individuals cry out in predictable, but false allegations, that decisions like the one made by these sheriffs, violate the, “separation of church and state.” Numerous legal challenges from these groups continue to be dismissed by the courts, who recognize the historical significance of our national motto and that it does not constitute an endorsement for a particular religion. These victories support the right of American citizens to display the motto, even in government buildings and public schools.

When it comes to moral conviction and ethics, Bay County Florida Sheriff, Frank McKeithen believes, “That’s what law enforcement is supposed to be about. We still pray. We pray before we go to a horrible situation where we think someone could get hurt or killed.” When several locals protested his use of the “In God We Trust” decals, McKeithen responded by saying, “I will drive just as fast to your house as to the preacher’s house if you need help.”

We are asking all our supporters and those who are standing in the gap for freedom, to display an “In God We Trust” window cling on your car. Let your friends and family know that you are standing with the sheriffs. Send it out through your social networks.  #InGodWeTrust #USA

cap coverCongressional Prayer Caucus Founder and Co-Chair, Rep. Randy Forbes (VA) commented, “The words [In God We Trust] can be ripped off all of our buildings and still, those Judeo-Christian principles are so interwoven in a tapestry of freedom and liberty that to begin to unravel the one is to unravel the other.”

We must stand firm in the face of adversity. We must stand firm in the fight for our religious freedoms. We must stand firm in our support of those who face these battles every day in the marketplace, the courts and the halls of power. We must stand firm against those who give lip service to tolerance and then are anything but tolerant toward those who love and trust God.

Yes America, In God We Do Still Trust.

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And So It Begins…Where Does it End?

The war on religious liberty and in particular, the rights of conscience, intensified last Thursday.

The battleground is located in Ashland, Kentucky, where Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, freedomwas arrested and jailed for contempt. Federal Judge, David L. Bunning, wrote the order when Davis respectfully declined to obey an earlier court decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While some may seek to make this case about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the definition of marriage, the larger question is much more concerning and profound. We are not talking about conservative or liberal ideology and we are not talking about the institution of marriage per se. What is at stake here is whether the federal government—or government at any level—can compel ordinary citizens to directly violate their deeply held religious beliefs and moral principles.

In her testimony, Ms. Davis tearfully indicated that she had not hesitated to stand by her faith-based views: “I didn’t have to think about it. There was no choice there.” Davis, who cited her religious beliefs and “God’s authority,” was escorted out of Judge Dunning’s courtroom and turned over to the custody of federal marshals. As demonstrators on both sides lined up outside and a small plane flew overhead with a “Stand Firm Kim” banner, Davis said, “I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.” Bunning also told five deputy clerks who work for Davis that they had to decide whether they will comply with his order to issue marriage licenses or face the same penalty.

Mat Staver, President of Liberty Counsel and Davis’ attorney responded, “Kim Davis is being held as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience. While she may be behind bars for now, she is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled.”

In a twist of political irony, sometimes government leaders operate outside the boundaries of the law, especially when it may serve their own purposes or if a piece of legislation conflicts with a particular philosophical bent on a given matter. For example, there are numerous instances where state officials—including county officers, mayors and even governors—directly violated laws that were on the books prohibiting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. This took place in 2004 with then San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsome; with California Governor, Jerry Brown; with Montgomery County, PA, Register of Wills, Bruce Hanes; with Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan; and with Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, to name a few. In 2013, Herring told National Public Radio, “As Attorney General, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights. The Commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”

Defend Americas Founding PrinciplesThe focus of attention (in this case, same sex marriage licenses) is not the primary point. The issue here is that these government leaders defended their decision as a right of conscience—claiming their actions to be a legitimate and entirely reasonable approach to legislation they disagreed with from a political/philosophical frame of reference. Yet, no officials were brought before a judge and ordered to obey the existing law or risk imprisonment. No fines were issued and there was no public outcry for honoring the rule of law above all else in these situations. Now that there is a public official (Kim Davis) who is likewise stating her right of conscience based on a different frame of reference (i.e., her religious beliefs), it is being handled via an entirely different standard…in fact, it’s a double standard and people of faith should be concerned over the implications.

Our Constitution does not discriminate based on position, power or status, but was designed by our Founders to protect and safeguard our sacred liberties with equal intent and determination. Ryan Anderson of The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation’s multimedia news organization, offers some good thoughts on an alternative solution, which comes out of North Carolina and officials who wrestled with some of these same concerns. See more… The common citizen is too often subjected to a different standard. It often takes a unified voice to be heard above the fray in pursuit of fairness and a more balanced remedy.

A number of leaders are thankfully weighing in on this case and supporting Ms. Davis’ position and religious liberties. There should be a reasonable balance between one’s Christian convictions and the government’s responsibility to abide by the laws. Criminalizing Christianity is not the America envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Sadly, the balance of power in our country is being undermined within the legislative branch and increasingly supplanted by both executive fiat and judicial tyranny. The government was never designed to replace God and therefore, does not have the authority or right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature’s God.

Some may argue that Davis was not forced to change or deny her beliefs. However, you cannot simply separate and disconnect people’s beliefs from how they liCourageve out their lives. Where should the line be drawn? Where do the seismic shifts in a culture that no longer respects life or God come to an end? Would it be acceptable, for example, to pass a law allowing sexual contact between an adult and a minor and then throw parents into jail for refusing to comply when they attempt to protect their children from predators? Lest you believe this is nothing more than sensationalism, you need to read about and understand the agenda of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).

We are fighting for our freedoms—silence and inactivity will leave us vulnerable and open to further attack. Christian…it is time for us to wake up and be engaged!

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What comes next?

Universities facing lawsuits unless they remove their chaplains. Christian bakers, florists freedomand photographers being fined and vilified in the press for their conservative views and practices. Soldiers court-martialed for promoting Biblical values. Restaurants owners confronted with denial of their lease because of their belief in traditional values.The religious symbols and traditions that have made our country a shining light in a dark world now disregarded and even disdained. First Amendment freedoms being challenged and eroded by militant anti-faith groups. What comes next?

Last year, the Family Research Council posted an expose titled, “Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States.” It documents hundreds of additional examples of religious discrimination, including the suppression of religious expression in the public square, as well as in schools and universities, the censure of religious viewpoints regarding sexuality, and the suppression of religious expression on sexuality using nondiscrimination laws.

This raises questions for those of us who must chart a course through an increasingly hostile society.

  • Where are the anchor points in a nation that seems to be adrift and no longer concerned or committed to our Judeo-Christian heritage?
  • Should any citizen of the Unites States be forced by the government to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs?
  • How should we respond?

These once hypothetical discussions have now turned into harsh realities for people of faith, and they are serious matters of one’s conscience. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, said, “To act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Lest you think the concept is only important to religious leaders, these are the words of Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and touted by progressives for his alleged views on the separation of church and state:

“No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority” (to New London Methodist, 1809).

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behooves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God and himself” (to Benjamin Rush, 1803).

“We are bound, you, I, and every one to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience” (to Edward Dowse, 1803).

11MY04JKThe government’s role is to protect the Constitutional rights of individuals, not infringe upon them. Should a Jewish baker be forced to make a cake with a Nazi swastika? Or an atheist to do so with an image of the crucifixion? A gay person to inscribe, “God hates homosexuality?” Or a vegan restaurant owner forced to serve meals with meat? No! No! No! A thousand times, “No!” These may seem like insignificant concerns to some; however, the road is being methodically paved at an alarming rate. Thankfully, Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the American Prayer Caucus Network are working tirelessly through their legislative leadership to ensure that citizens will not be trampled by those who seek to strip us of religious freedom.

Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of a vibrant parish community in Washington, D.C. and Johnette Benkovic, Founder and President of Women of Grace, point out in a sobering article, that religious persecution takes place in five stages. What about Christianity in America? First, as the authors suggest, there are attempts to stereotype the targeted group – check! Second, there is a justification for hatred of the particular group – check! Third, the targeted group is marginalized in society – check! Fourth, the targeted group is criminalized, including their places of worship, businesses and educational institutions – check! Finally, there is outright persecution and even death – may it never come to this, but are we ready to be fully engaged?

The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation continues to serve on the frontlines in the fight for our freedoms. Please keep us in your prayers, as well as our courageous government leaders who are standing in the gap. Your ongoing financial support also helps us have that voice in the public square. On behalf of the entire CPCF staff – thank you!

The days ahead are likely to require a shift from rhetoric to principled action. Are you prepared when it comes to your faith and conscience? May God grant us all the heart and determination of Joshua when he said, “…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

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PrayUSA – A Special Invitation from Roma Downey

We are very excited about an opportunity to advance the PrayUSA Initiative through a wonderful new partnership with Emmy-nominated actress and executive producer, Roma Downey. Downey is best known for her nine seasons on the hit CBS television show, Touched by an Angel, and more recently, for a number of faith-based projects. Along with her husband, Mark Burnett and through their organization, Lightworkers Media, Downey has produced two well received series, The Bible and A.D.: The Bible Continues, as well as the movie, Son of God. Her career has spanned nearly 27 years and she works seamlessly on both sides of the camera. Downey’s newest project, Answered Prayers, is a TLC series that highlights inspiring and real stories of individuals who have experienced the power of answered prayer.

Please take a moment to watch this short video message from Roma inviting you to join her, along with nearly a thousand government leaders and over a hundred thousand fellow citizens in the PrayUSA movement that is spreading all across America.

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The PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer Initiative is becoming an amazing success story, as nearly 1,000 government leaders and 115,000 citizens have already answered the call to prayer for America. If you haven’t done so already, why not add your support by signing the Prayer for America Proclamation. We are believing for a million voices who are willing to stand up for our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and to earnestly seek God’s hand of mercy and grace.

Encourage your own church to schedule a PrayUSA Sunday – to invite a local or state leader to read the Proclamation and then have the congregation sign it and commit to praying in humble petition for God to heal our nation (2 Chron. 7:14). Everything you need is right here.

Government leaders and pastors—shoulder-to-shoulder and in complete unity—makes a bold statement to directly challenge the misapplication and distortions regarding the “separation of church and state” argument—a false narrative that has hindered Christians from exercising their constitutionally protected religious freedoms within the marketplace of ideas.

While we celebrate and need advocates and supporters like Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, and from Congressmen and Congresswomen, from Senators, Governors, Mayors and other government and ministry leaders…your voice also matters and is just as critical—“For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). Every person who calls Jesus Christ, Lord…every signed Proclamation, every gift and especially, every prayer offered to God on behalf of our country, is critical if we are to win back America and stop this rapid descent into a growing amoral abyss.

If we unite…if we do this together, we may yet see a turning of the tide. With all my heart, I’m confident that God hears your prayers for your life, your family and loved ones and for our nation. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

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Salt and Light

In following the lead of Green County, Missouri sheriff, Jim Arnott, Doug Rader, the sheriff for neighboring Stone County, announced via social media that all patrol vehicles will display, “In God We Trust,” on their back bumpers. To his surprise, the recent decision has sparked a national debate, even though he is well within lawful and Constitutional parameters. As expected, anti-faith individuals and groups are crying out in a predictable response that this move violates the, “separation of church and state”—an increasingly tired assertion that belies the reality of our legislatively approved National Motto and the singular phrase found on all U.S. currency. The good news is that there have been over two million views, 50,000 supportive likes and 16,000 shares on the original Facebook post describing the action.

We want to help send Sheriff Rader the message that he does not stand alone, and furthermore, there are thousands of likeminded individuals who are right there with him! The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation is building a growing, nationwide network that includes hundreds of legislators and thousands of citizens in order to mobilize tangible support in situations just like this one. Would you join with us and visit their Facebook page today? Post a “Like” along with a word of encouragement. Or consider contacting the Stone County Sheriff’s Department directly and let them know you appreciate Sheriff Rader’s bold commitment to religious liberty and principled faith.

Imagine if tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, rallied together to make a statement while the eyes of the country are focused on a small Midwestern county. There is great power and a strong message that comes in unity of purpose—We will not yield our sacred rights! We will not compromise our moral and religious values! We will not be afraid or ashamed as people of faith! I urge you to stand up with Sheriff Rader!

In an interview, Rader stated, “In God We Trust” became our National Motto in 1956. There has been no better time than now to proudly display our national motto and I’m very humbled at the amount of support behind it.” These four words—In God We Trust—are also inscribed on the walls of the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., in letters of gold behind the Speaker’s rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the offices of Members of Congress, and many other prominent places. From the writings of our Founders to the speeches of our Presidents, God is woven into the beautiful tapestry of our heritage. Whether during peace or in wartime, in prosperity or economic depression, in moments of national crisis or celebration, America has always trusted in God.

Three-and-a-half years ago, in November, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (396-9) to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States. The landslide vote sends a message that “In God We Trust” is not only written in the halls of our federal buildings and on our national currency, but it represents a foundational cornerstone upon which our nation was built.  H. Con. Resolution 13 encourages the overt display of our National Motto in in every public school classroom and government building.

The “separation of church and state” controversy comes from a letter penned by then President, Thomas Jefferson, on January 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association. Though it is frequently used by opponents to justify their attempts to advance legislative restrictions, Jefferson’s own actions challenge this long held assumption. The letter was a means to alleviate a concern that the federal government might infringe upon their religious rights. The true meaning and spirit of having a separation of church and state does not automatically imply the separation of God and government.

As Christians, we are called to be salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16). Every effort to advocate for our religious freedom—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—needs to be pursued, and not just by a few, but by the many who believe these principles are worth fighting for. They are worth a short email or letter of support and encouragement. They are worth our verbal affirmation and a willingness to be a voice in the midst of strong opposition. They are worth the time on our knees in petition before God. Thank you for, “letting your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

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