Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Erosion of Freedom of Religion in American Life

Make no mistake about it, there is a seismic shift going on in our country with regard to Freedom of Religion.  Let me put a spotlight on two issues that demonstrate it.  I will summarize them and then provide links to lengthier articles that provide more information, background and analysis.

“Freedom of Worship” Replacing “Freedom of Religion”
Historically, the United States has affirmed “Freedom of Religion” as a foundational and universal human right.  It is the central to our understanding of the separation of church and state and expressed in the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.  Beginning in 2010 though, government officials stopped referring to Freedom of Religion and referred only to “Freedom of Worship.”  It’s more than a matter of semantics.  Oppressive governments around the world are happy to relegate worship to the freedom of private and regulated settings.  Acts of charity and service, teaching of children, evangelism and other activities motivated by religious conviction suddenly become off limits.

You will want to read and digest:
Freedom of Worship’s Assault on Freedom of Religion – Click Here
Why “Freedom of Worship” Is Not Enough – Click Here

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Under the auspices of the PPACA (aka ObamCare) the federal government has injected itself deeply into health care matters – including contraception and abortion.  An August, 2012 mandate now requires employers to provided free contraception, sterilization and abortifacients with health care benefits.  All but a narrow range of church employers are able to claim exemptions for religious convictions.  Click Here for an overview of the mandate and issues involved with it.

This development has left private businesses run by people in a way consistent with their faith facing huge fines and bankruptcy.  You can read the stories from two different companies to get a sense of the issues faced by others.

Tyndale Publishing House – Click Here
Hobby Lobby – Click Here

The General Assembly of our own Evangelical Presbyterian Church even spoke to the issue at the 2012 General Assembly this summer.  Click Here to read the Position Paper.

All citizens, not just those who are directly affected, would do well to notice and resist this erosion of basic freedoms.

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