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(Photo: Reuters/Robert Galbraith)A woman holds a cluster of U.S. flags.

The Bill of Rights enshrines the right of all people to practice any religion: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

I love the system of government our Founding Fathers gave us. Only by guaranteeing freedom of thought, speech, conscience, and religion for all do we insure our own freedom. I do not want to impose a theocracy on America. I do not want the establishment of a state religion.

However, there are eternal principles that we disobey at our peril, moral principles that we derive from the Judeo-Christian Bible, principles our Founding Fathers believed in and built our nation upon. These principles are perfectly compatible with our Constitution. Our nation observed these principles during the first two centuries of its existence.

America began veering away from these principles during the latter part of the twentieth century, but it's not too late to correct our course—not yet. God offers us a choice: accept His moral principles and the blessings that come with them—or reject them and lose our liberty.

Today, many secularists and atheists claim that America was not built on a foundation of biblical principles. For example, the Freedom from Religion Foundation website features an article that states, "The Christian Right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States, as part of their campaign to force their religion on others who ask merely to be left alone. According to this Orwellian revision, the Founding Fathers of this country were pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity."

The author of those words is simply wrong on several counts. For one thing, Christians are not trying to "force" our religion on anyone—that would be a violation of the Lord's great commission and an affront to our faith. The Christian gospel is an invitation, not an imposition. Nor do we seek to make evangelical Christianity the state-established religion of America.

And the author of the article is also mistaken regarding the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers saw no conflict between religious liberty and the fact that America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith.

The founders wanted nothing to do with a state-sponsored, state-imposed church, such as the Church of England. No American would be forced to profess any religious beliefs or belong to any religious denomination. Even an atheist would have nothing to fear. But it was commonly understood that America could only thrive and remain free if its people, in general, remained voluntarily dependent upon Almighty God.

What I have described to you is "America 1.0," the original America, the America that millions of older Americans remember with nostalgia. It's the land they were born in, were raised in, and grew up in. And these older Americans feel a deep sense of disappointment that, over the past few decades, America 1.0 has disappeared.

It has been replaced by America 2.0, a secularist America that denies our nation's rich history of faith. Many Americans are saddened and angry that their children and grandchildren are growing up in an America that ignores biblical principles and mocks biblical morality.

I came to this country from a land of Islamic and socialist tyranny. Growing up under the Nasser dictatorship in Egypt, I longed to be free. I read the writings of America's founders and dreamed of breathing the air of freedom that was purchased with the blood of patriots. To this day, I value America 1.0, the America that once was, and could be once more.

Today's America, America 2.0, is racing to the depths of immorality, insolvency, and moral insanity. But the descent can be halted and reversed.

It's up to us. We can't impose godliness, righteousness, and faith on America by an act of Congress or a presidential order. We can only restore America 1.0 by voluntarily inviting God to reign on the throne of our lives, and by inviting our neighbors to do the same.

When Jesus said, "Follow me," it was not an order, it was an invitation. He started with twelve followers; todayHis followers number in the billions. He offers freedom, not oppression. He offers a kingdom of grace, not a theocracy of force.

We can restore America 1.0 as "one nation under God," but the change must begin within your heart and mine.

Adapted from The Hidden Enemy: Aggressive Secularism, Radical Islam, and the Fight for Our Future by Michael Youssef, March 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers.

Michael Youssef is the founder and president of Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, a worldwide ministry that leads the way for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ through the creative use of media and on-the-ground ministry teams (www.LTW.org). His weekly television programs and daily radio programs are broadcast in 25 languages and seen worldwide, airing more than 13,000 times per week. He is also the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.
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