Religious freedom must be preserved

Christians are to pray for the governing authorities “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. Paul says, “this is good and pleases God our Saviour who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). In other words, we are to pray for freedom to live the Christian life and to proclaim the gospel.

When religious liberty is threatened, Gospel liberty is also in danger. It becomes more difficult to proclaim the gospel and more difficult for Christians to live out godly lives that witness to the Gospel. Jesus himself warns his followers not to lose their distinctive ‘salt’, lest they become useless and trampled on by men (Matthew 5:13). Jesus wants us not to be ashamed but rather to put our light on its stand. Christians should therefore be concerned greatly about any laws or policies that limit our religious liberty.

Christians must submit to the Governing authorities except where they require what God forbids or forbid what God requires (Acts 5:29).

The Christian Institute has been very concerned about laws which limit religious broadcasting and seek to impose unwarranted secular restrictions on churches – such as being forced to employ unbelieving staff.

These days there is a deliberate twisting of what ‘religious liberty’ actually means. Religious liberty is not only the liberty to believe certain things in our head, but the liberty to act according to those beliefs. It is, for example, the liberty to gather with like-minded people, to form associations with those who share our faith, to tell other people about our faith, and to speak out against what we believe to be wrong.

It is this liberty to act on our beliefs that is under attack in our day. Part of this stems from the growing chasm between Christian values and the values of those in public life.

© 2008 The Christian Institute