Hi Everyone! Deborah Moore, our Religious Liberty Coordinator at Saint Maries Adventist Church, has written up an interesting article on religious liberty in our culture today (Thank you Debbie!). She presents people’s opinions on this issue so we can focus better on guarding this basic human right. You’ll find her article below. Happy reading!
Recently, I asked my church and several others 2 questions: 1. What is religious liberty? and 2. What is religious persecution?. The answers were varied and yet alike.
There were 12 who answered the first question and the main theme was: “to be able to worship, believe and/or practice ones faith/religion as desired”. This is a true statement; however, it assumes that all “religions” are equal. I say this because of 3 of the answers that I received. These individuals stated that we can practice our faith/religion “as long as it does not restrict or harm others in any way: ie, physically, emotionally, etc”.
You see religious liberty is very basic to all individuals and we need to remember; that as we deal with our families, friends, fellow church members, fellow Christians, and all those we come in contact with, they too may be judging us for our willingness to show “religious liberty”. I’m not saying don’t try to win souls for Jesus, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’m saying let the Spirit lead you in the way you need to speak and act.
The second question garnered 15 responses and all addressed not being allowed to worship the way one chooses. Although the answers were similar, there were definite differences. Some mentioned being treated differently because of their beliefs; such as not being hired, being fired, fined, ridiculed, etc. Others stated that religious persecution is stopping someone from worshipping any time, any place or any god. It was also mentioned by some that it is punishing a person for their beliefs when they go against the popular opinion or the group in power. Basically, as put by a friend of mine, religious persecution is being judged and punished for our beliefs.
The Lord put these questions on my heart. From the responses I received, I have to ask myself; do I live up to God’s expectations of me in my relationships and interactions with others? Paul, in I Corinthians chapter 8, talked about being careful not to offend a weaker brother. True he talked of eating meat offered to idols, but the lesson is the same. We must seek God’s guidance in all our interactions, pray for the Holy Spirit to be our guide and to show us what to say and/or do.