Religious freedom is guaranteed within the Constitution of the United States of America. According to the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Despite this amendment being written in the Constitution, many people believe their religious freedom is being under attack in 21st-century America. The question that arises in the minds of many people today is “are we experiencing religious persecution today?”
What Is Religious Freedom?
There are many people who believe the answer to this question is a strong yes, while others believe it is a strong no. Across the world since 2007, there have been increasing levels of governmental restrictions on religious events surrounding religion, such as church and associated social events.
In America under President Donald Trump (2020) and President Joe Biden (2021), there has been the signing and confirmation of the executive order of “Advancing International Religious Freedom.”
Within this executive order, there has been the “official launch of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (the Alliance), a network of like-minded countries committed to opposing religious persecution and advancing freedom of religion or belief for all” (Ibid.).
There is a degree of attack upon religious freedom in America; however, the main religious freedom under attack is the religious freedom found in other countries across the globe. In many countries, freedom of religion is nonexistent.
The most common restrictions are laws that restrict religious freedom, “such as requiring that religious groups register in order to operate” and secondly, favoritism of religious groups in the local government, “through funding for religious education, property and clergy.” Since 2007, these two types of religious persecutions have risen 20%.
It is plausible that these numbers could rise higher as the years pass by. Since the uprise of the coronavirus, many people have believed religious freedom is under attack due to the restrictions on public gatherings at church service on Sunday mornings as well as restrictions on other church-related functions.
It is important to remember that the COVID-19 virus is a real virus that has claimed the lives of millions of people across the globe. Limiting church gatherings and restricting the space between individuals is to allow safety measures in order to prevent an outbreak of the virus.
The temporary restrictions on church meetings were and are not specifically attacking a person’s religious freedom. Rather, the restrictions were put into place in order to protect the populace.
The Importance of Religious Freedom
Religious freedom is vitally important, and it protects all people within the countries where there is religious freedom present. In other words, the concept of religious freedom “protects everyone — religious and nonreligious alike — from the government becoming so powerful that it can tell people what to think and how to act.”
If a nation has religious freedom, it gives all citizens the right to their own beliefs, freedom to worship, and freedom to live according to their beliefs (Ibid.). Twenty-first-century America is extremely blessed to be able to have religious freedom.
At times, it can seem that one’s religious freedom is being threatened; however, Americans do have much more religious freedom compared to other countries in the world. As previously mentioned, there has been an influx in threats to religious freedom in America; however, this is to be expected as we walk into the future.
Jesus warns us that times will grow darker and darker before His Second Coming (Luke 21:25-36). As Christians living in America in the modern-day, we do have the right to religious freedom presently. We cannot predict what will ensue in the coming years; however, as believers in the Lord Jesus, we have true freedom despite our living circumstances (Galatians 5:1).
Even if a governmental office restricts a person’s religious freedom, they still have the right to believe in the Lord Jesus in their hearts. In many countries across the world, there is mass religious persecution going on to the point that Christians have started underground churches in order to meet together.
American Christians are immensely blessed that we do not have to do this. In other countries across the globe, if you are known for being a Christian, you could be imprisoned, tortured, or killed for your faith.
These nations do not have religious freedom as we do. Christians living in these hostile nations know the true meaning of being physically persecuted for their faith just like the early Christians understood the severity of dying for your faith. In the midst of persecution, believers need to stay strong.
There may come a day in your life when religious freedom is eradicated in America, or you may relocate to a nation that does not have religious freedom. It is during these difficult circumstances that you will have an opportunity to grow in your faith.
Many of us have been verbally persecuted or looked down upon because of our faith; however, not many Christians living in America have even been physically persecuted for their faith. Through trials, battles, and hardships, the Holy Spirit can provide believers with strength and uphold them. God is always faithful to His children (1 Corinthians 1:9).
What the Future Holds
The future for religious freedom is uncertain. There will be times of persecution on religious freedom and there may be many people who will try to get the First Amendment turned over. However, it is important to remember that God does not promise us easy lives on this earth. Ever since the fall of man, there has been sin in the world and sin is what makes life so difficult.
In these dark days is when Jesus needs us to shine His light for others the most. Even if it comes to Americans losing religious freedom (which is unlikely), we are still called to obey God. The Bible is clear that we must respect governmental authority leaders; however, our first allegiance is always to the Lord (Romans 13:1-7; Acts 5:29).
Many people believe our religious freedom is under attack in America, but the First Amendment in the Constitution is still active. There will be times that people will look down on you because you are a Christian but take these insults with joy just as the early disciples of Christ did (Acts 5:41).
Religious freedom in countries outside of America is few and in between. It is a great privilege to be able to possess, practice, and believe what we choose. There is an uprising against religious freedom across the world, which makes it even more of a blessing that we are living in a time of religious freedom.
Therefore, religious freedom may be considered by many to be under attack; however, as long as America has the First Amendment in the Constitution, American citizens can be assured of keeping their religious freedom.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anastasiia Stiahailo
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.