Christians in America today need to be radical about supporting freedom of religion in public life. In doing so, we will be carrying on the grand tradition upon which this country was founded. Some have called it the great experiment.
Contrary to what has been believed and taught in many churches in the last 30 years since the culture wars took hold in this country, America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation established for the free expression of all religions, including no religion at all. Our founding fathers came to this country to escape the tyranny of a government-dictated religion. The last thing they would do would be to found another government like the one they left. No, they started a great experiment where everyone would fight for their own freedom, and everyone else’s freedom as well.
As true Christians, atheists are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Secular humanists are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Muslims are not our enemies; they are fellow Americans. Democrats and Republicans are not each other’s enemies; they are fellow Americans.
When our soldiers die defending this country, they are not dying for Christianity; they are dying for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and on and on. They are dying for a great ideal, that this nation would support and defend the right of every man and woman to worship as he or she pleases. And that, my friend, is an ideal worth dying for.
This is why Christians are barking up the wrong tree when we expend so much energy, power and rhetoric trying to keep prayer in schools, God in the Pledge, the Ten Commandments on the state house lawn, and so on. The average school in California has 19 religions represented; shall we have 19 different prayers? We are acting like people who want to take prayer out of schools are our enemies taking away our rights, when we should be the ones fighting for the rights of other religions to exist in our schools.
If the founding fathers had come here to establish the kingdom of God, that would have been one thing, but they did not, and it’s a good thing they didn’t, because the kingdom of God is not of this world, and anyone who tries to make it so is in for lots of trouble. As one of our readers pointed out, you can trace a lot of our problems with religion and state back to Constantine, during whose time Christianity first became the state religion. Jesus did not come to establish a nation; He came to establish the kingdom of God, and then told us to make followers of that kingdom in every nation on the earth.
Why is this important? Because in a time of great sectarianism and division when differences between people seem insurmountable, Christians need to stand above the fray — not as just another tribe or religion vying for dominance, but as representatives of the kingdom of God that knows no national or political boundary on earth. Christians need to fight for the freedom of what Os Guinness, our guest on tonight’s BlogTalkRadio segment calls: “all religions and none” to exist and express themselves, not just our religion. Christianity is not a religion anyway. It is if you study it in a textbook or in history, but true Christianity is not a religion in the Bible, it is a relationship with Christ.
We have to decide if we want the culture wars and Crusades, or if we want a free and open society. If we establish and support true religious freedom in the public square, we create a friendly and open environment where the gospel of Jesus Christ can truly be considered for what it is: God’s free and gracious offering of salvation to everyone. Then the gospel can truly be the Gospel of Welcome.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
For an important 15-minute segment of our interview with Os Guinness, author of The Global Public Square, tune into our BlogTalkRadio site at 6pm Pacific tonight or anytime thereafter.