Religious Freedom and the First Amendment

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
—Psalm 146:5

A few years ago, I commented in a sermon that in an upcoming election we ought to vote for Christians. I didn’t mention any candidate and I didn’t mention any political party. Well, as soon as I preached that sermon, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatened our church with a loss of our tax-exempt status because I dared to say we ought to vote for Christians. And they cited the separation of church and state. That’s what liberals do today. They pervert Thomas Jefferson’s words to restrict religious expression instead of reassuring us of our right to express our religious convictions. Thomas Jefferson would roll over in his grave if he knew people were perverting his words in such a way. How do I know that? Exactly one year after he wrote to the Danbury Baptists, reassuring them there would not be a state denomination, Jefferson encouraged Congress to pass a treaty to allow US tax dollars to support Christian missionaries to the Kaskaskia Indians. Can you imagine a president today using federal tax dollars to support Evangelical missionaries? If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be sued because of the separation of church and state that he had written about.

Consider how the court has interpreted this phrase “separation of church and state.” For the first 140 years of our nation’s history the judiciary reaffirmed over and over again that America is a Christian country. For example, in 1799, in Runkel v. Winemiller, the Supreme Court of Maryland said, “by our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.” The court said we have an established religion, and it is the Christian religion. One hundred years later, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the same principle. In The Church of the Holy Trinity v. The United States, the Supreme Court said, “no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is a Christian nation.”

The First Amendment was not created to create an equal level playing field among our religions but to exclude rivalry between Christian denominations. Even the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that this nation is a Christian nation.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “America Is a Christian Nation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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