Tonight at prayer meeting at my church, we watched a video entitled, "One Generation Away," which speaks out about the religious injustice in our society today. As I watched that video, so many thoughts and feelings raged through my head and heart. I'll try to capture them all in this post.
First off, I want to define religious freedom vs. religious liberty. Too many people get these two terms confused. According to Dictionary.com, freedom is defined as, "the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restrain; the power to determine action without restraint." Basically, the ability to do what you want. Liberty is defined as, "freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control; freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking speaking, etc., according to choice." Basically, liberty is the ability to exercise certain freedoms.
These two words go hand in hand, especially when speaking about something like religious liberty. However, don't get their origins confused. Religious freedom is only granted by the one true Authority, God. In the beginning, he gave us free will, to do and believe what we want, in hopes that we would want to believe and trust in Him. Religious liberty, on the other hand, is the ability to practice religious freedom in the land, area, or region where you reside. The presiding government allows you to practice your religious beliefs, no matter what they may be.
That was a huge controversy back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Religion was a heated topic in those times, especially after Martin Luther proposed that the Roman Catholic church, the only church and form of Christianity in that day, was wrong. That started a fire which spread across all of Europe, and eventually led to the persecution and deaths of those who believed differently than the presiding governments. This led to certain groups of people--the Puritans, for example; people who wanted to reform the Church of England and were persecuted for it--to flee to America in hopes for a better life.
Things are no different today. Although in America we are not being physically persecuted--beaten, tortured, and killed--for our faith (yet), our liberties are slowly being taken away. Today, Atheism, the idea that there is no God, is the ruling religion, and Christianity is once again on the copping block. Prayer and Bibles are being taken out of schools and government offices. Churches and businesses are being shut down if they do not agree with the "national consensus".
Religious liberty doesn't only extend to Christians or Jews; it extends to every form of religion. If you take away freedom of religion, you have to include every religion or idea out there: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism; and even, yes, even Atheism. Any idea or philosophy of a God (or no God) must be done away with, and thus, so must our morals and complete lifestyles. For Christians and Muslims alike, our every day lives are grounded in our faith. There are things which are intertwined in the fibers of our beings, things which we cannot deny. If you deny those things, you deny us as individuals.
The root cause of such hatred toward Christianity, I believe, is the fact that we worship and believe in God, the true and holy One. Satan, the devil, the fallen angel Lucifer, has deceived people in such a way as to make them blind and deny the existence of a God who loves us and wants a relationship with us. Because he has a grudge against God, he will employ any and every tactic in his disposal--the temptation of imperfect human beings--to turn us against God.
The only way our country, and the entire world, will wake up to our senses is if God opens our eyes and we see the true beauty of Him. Who would love you so much that He would send His only Son, His pride and joy, to be tortured, beaten, killed, and hung in humiliation, so that you could be with Him once again? Satan has bonded us to the chains of sin. We are forever separated from God unless we accept that He would have as much mercy and grace on us as to forgive us of everything we've done.
We will never have true freedom or see change in our lives and countries, until we wake up and change our hearts.