(Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
With the celebration of Independence Day in the U.S. and less than one week after the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Obamacare, The Christian Post asked Christians in the context of current events, "What does freedom mean to you this 4th of July?"
The decision by the high court last Thursday caused many conservative and Christian leaders to question the future of individual and religious liberty.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warned last week, "Today's Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families."
Jennifer Marshall, who is the director of Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, along with Sarah Torre, wrote in The Foundry on Thursday: "This morning, the Supreme Court didn't just miss the opportunity to protect individual liberty. It also failed to defend religious freedom."
Harvest Ministries evangelist and Pastor Greg Laurie and Open Doors USA President Carl A. Moeller, whose organization is a worldwide religious freedom and persecution watchdog, were asked by CP to talk about the meaning of freedom. Also, former Marine Nick Schoeneberger, a Christian from Plano, Texas, who considers himself a "Libertarian-leaning Constitutional Originalist" was asked for his opinion.
CP: As we head into the 4th with much talk of freedom of religion in the U.S. what are your thoughts?
Laurie: America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Of course, revisionists want to tell us that it is not true. But if we look at the preponderance of evidence in statements from our Founding Fathers, how our universities were established and at so many other things in the foundation of this country, there is no denying the fact that America was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation.
The first prayer of the first Congress went as follows: "O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee."
This prayer went on to say: "Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. … All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior."
Can you imagine a prayer like that being prayed today?
Moeller: This nation was founded by those that were willing to leave family and their homes to come in to a nation that was dedicated to religious liberty. I believe this July 4 we should remember those that share our faith, but who don't share our freedoms and to work in ways that help us preserve our own liberties here in United States.
Schoeneberger: For at least a little while longer, I can walk onto a street corner and share the good news of the Gospel with lost people and not have to fear imprisonment and torture as so many do in other lands. And I can purchase a Bible without having to know where I can hide it so I won't get taken to a re-education camp if it were to be found by authorities.
CP: Do you think this year's 4th of July celebration is more significant in any way? Why or why not?
Laurie: The fourth of July is a day we celebrate our independence as a nation. I believe we need to also as Americans acknowledge our dependence on God who has so graciously granted these liberties to us. As you look at our country and at the statements of our Founding Fathers, though they may not have all been Christians, they, at the very least, had a respect for the Word of God and believed it to be an authoritative source. George Washington said, "To the distinguished Character of Patriot it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian."
And Patrick Henry wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
Moeller: I think this year's July 4th celebration is more significant in several ways. First of all, the realities of religious persecution against Christians around the world are more visible today than ever before. I know that there are places like Egypt where Christians are wondering if even in the next year they will lose all their civil liberties. In America, we need to celebrate our freedoms and remember that they're precious.
Schoeneberger: It's not more significant than other 4th of Julys as they represent an opportunity to consider the many blessings we've enjoyed in our nation's history that began with the Declaration of Independence, a document that recognizes that we have rights given by God, not by governments.
However, it is important that we as Christians look to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change the hearts of individuals rather than to politicians to be our salvation in a time of national difficulty economically, spiritually and morally. Only the Gospel can save a nation that is, I believe, under God's judgment right now.
CP: Any additional thoughts as we reflect on the meaning of 4th of July?
Laurie: I believe the only hope for America is a spiritual awakening.
We need a revival to rock our nation resulting in us turning back to God.
At Harvest ministries we are doing a nationwide outreach that we are calling "Harvest America." It will be a live HD webcast of our evangelistic event at Angel Stadium on August 26th, 2012 that at present is going to be carried by over 1,000 churches and live viewing sites around our nation.
To find out more, go to www.harvestamerica.com.
Moeller: Our freedoms are not cheap. They were paid for by the blood of our patriot for fathers and mothers and I believe that we need to not just enjoy the barbecue and fireworks on July 4 but to remember with gratitude all those that have given their lives to preserve our freedoms and most particularly our first freedom, freedom of religion.
Schoeneberger: I would say, pray for revival in this next period of our nation's existence. I believe very strongly that our nation has a great need for the Gospel. I feel we're now like the Greek and Asian (Turkey) pagan nations Paul visited. We now encounter a pagan worldview in our own backyards and should be ready to share the Gospel accordingly.