Would it surprise you to know the United States, for the first time, has been placed on a worldwide list for notable religious persecution? Today, your First Amendment freedoms are being threatened as never before in the nation’s history. From where does this peril come? In a speech on January 27, 1837, Abraham Lincoln prophetically said, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us…If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”1
Children in our schools are being reprimanded for silently praying over their meals or handing out Christian-related cards, faith-based business owners like David Green, an owner of an arts and crafts supply company, Hobby Lobby, are being forced to abandon their religious beliefs or pay outrageous fines, and even pastors are being arrested for preaching the Gospel? Are not these religious freedoms the very purpose for which many of our Founders dedicated this nation?
Secularists have declared this to be “their decade” for the removal of God from the public square. Anti-faith groups such as the Secular Coalition of America (SCA) are determined to take a national leadership role in order to remove every vestige of God, the concept of moral absolutes, and religious freedom from our culture. The Coalition, headquartered in Washington, D. C., is an alliance of atheists, agnostics and humanists proactively seeking to destabilize the Judeo-Christian bedrock of our great nation. Founded in 2002, the SCA has brought together such organizations as Atheist Alliance International, the Institute for Humanist Studies, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, as well as others.2 Although these organizations have had a strong undercurrent of movement for decades, persistent efforts, the power of corporate lobbying and supportive assistance from various public authorities, have accelerated their success in recent years.
Judeo-Christian principles secure freedom for all of us. In the words of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they, therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”3 A country absent of a moral conscious, leaves freedom to be defined by the state and a country with no moral compass, is then subject to the blowing winds of fallen humanity and quickly drifts toward the dangerous waters of intrusive governmental control and repression.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, there is a rising tide of government restrictions on religion in this country.4 The increase in overall scores from 2009 – 2010, especially on the Social Hostilities index, moved the United States for the first time from the low to the moderate category. Only five other countries showed a similar upsurge during this period. The same research study also reported that Christianity is the number one religious group to be harassed by government and social groups all across the world, including in America. The two years since this study, an exponential increase in attacks on Christians has been felt in America.
Secularist groups are ratcheting up their efforts to restrict citizens’ rights to pray at public meetings, limit the opportunity for students to participate in Christian clubs on college campuses, control the long standing and constitutional usage of religious symbols throughout the government and military. Lawsuits and threats of lawsuits increase almost weekly. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is asking President Obama to forego placing his right hand on the Bible or saying, “So help me God” when he swears his oath of office on January 21st.5 A handful of activist groups are behind a concerted effort on multiple fronts to redefine the First Amendment in order push faith out of the public arena, create laws by misguided legislators and set legal precedents through rogue judges.
In the past we have counted on defending our rights through the judicial system, however, it is time to go on the offense, confident we are standing on balanced scriptural principles and the solid ground of our founding documents.
Our strategy is effective because the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation is committed to a forward-looking, assertive and uncompromising posture. We are backed by 105 current members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and hundreds of state legislators in State Prayer Caucuses around the nation who recognize it is time for serious proactive measures.
The goal is NOT to legislate religion, but to affirm the principles that secure liberty and the freedom of religion. We believe the Judeo-Christian precepts that formed this nation and the right to exercise our religious beliefs in the public square are worth fighting for. We covet your prayers and we need your ongoing financial support to network and equip the lawmakers who are gathering for prayer in growing numbers and uniting to fight for our right to be a nation that trusts in God. It is going to take a sincere commitment and deep sacrifice from each of us. We are in, are you?
The spiritual environment is conducive for rapid expansion of the secularist agenda unless we do something now. Let us redouble our commitment to ensure that will never happen. We can no longer exclusively rely on defending our rights in the courtroom; we must shift our position to offense. Our rich spiritual heritage provides a winning strategy, but we need individuals just like yourself, men and women who are ready to co-labor with us.
I realize many are battle weary and discouraged, some have given up and others are writing our challenges off as God’s judgment on a country that is walking away from Him. Where do the Scriptures tell us to shrink back? Like the Apostle Paul, we are called to fight the good fight of faith–to “put on the full armor of God, so that [we] will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:10-12).
For so many of us, this season provides moments of both private reflection and shared thanksgiving. As Americans, we have much to be thankful for: our freedoms, the opportunity to pursue our dreams, even the basic necessities of life–blessings that millions around the globe long to have within their grasp. May God help us to never take these things for granted. With profound gratitude and yet a resolute determination, we must reaffirm our commitment to ensure the unalienable rights endowed by a Sovereign Creator and recognized by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution, remain the heritage of a free people.
During some of his darkest hours, Lincoln confessed, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”6 I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the presence of God in prayer and I believe He hears the heart cries of His sons and daughters and answers their prayer. It is who we are and what we do, not only as an organization, but as people of faith. Let us stand together!
1 Barton, D. (1991). Letters and addresses of Abraham Lincoln, as cited in The myth of separation. Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press.
5 Steiner, B. C. (1907). The life and correspondence of James McHenry. Cleveland, OH: The Burrows Brothers Company.
6 Marshall, P. & Manuel, D. (1991). The glory of America. Bloomington, MN: Garborg’s Heart’N Home, Inc.