Summary: Christians need to stand up for Christ and our religious freedoms. 7th of series of Taking Up Your Cross in Todays’ World.
One Nation Under God
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me
and for the gospel will save it.
36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."
Were our forefathers ashamed of Christ or did they take up their cross to follow Christ?
Let’s look at the evidence. On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower Compact was signed. These were a group of people who left England, because the state was endorsing a state church. Wanting freedom of religion, they left England to establish the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia. At Cape Cod, they wrote the first statue of government. Let’s see what it says.
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith,
and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid;
As we see from this very first government statue, this country was founded for the advancement of the Christian Faith. Were these first pilgrims ashamed of Christ? No, there were carrying their cross.
On June 15, 1790 the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. It states:
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.
I can spend hours submitting to you letter after letter written by all of our founding fathers in which they are mentioning and praising the name of Christ. But the above Amendment should be quite clear as to its intended meaning. It states that Congress will not make any laws establishing a religion. This was to ensure that a state church would not be established as it was in England.
Next it says that Congress will not make any laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. This means that no laws can be established to prevent people from worshipping any time or any place of their choosing.
Next it says that Congress will not make laws preventing the freedom of speech. This gives us the right to witness to people at any time and any place.
Next it says that Congress will not make laws preventing people to peaceably to assemble. This means that we can assemble to worship and also to peacefully assemble to protest.
We hear so much today about separation of Church and State, but those words are not found in the US Constitution. They are found in the Soviet Constitution. The meaning of the words "Separation of Church and State" has been misinterpreted from a personal letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote.
The Danbury Baptist Association, concerned about religious liberty in the new nation wrote to President Thomas Jefferson on Oct. 7, 1801. I quote this paragraph from their letter.
"Out Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty -- That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals -- That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further that to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But Sir our constitution of government is not specific."
The Danbury Baptist Association believed that ones faith and belief was between God and that individual, with no involvement from the government and that no one should have to suffer in any way for their religious beliefs. They wanted clarification from the President on the interpretation of the first amendment. At the time that the first amendment was drafted and voted on, Thomas Jefferson was not even in this country. He was at that time the Ambassador to France.