In our western cultures, it’s popular to believe that the so-called separation of church and state means that everything has to be “secular”—no religion (and by religion they mean Christianity) is allowed anywhere in the public sphere. And, of course, those usually pushing this notion refuse to recognize their own belief system—humanism or atheism—as a religion, even though it is. The result of this misconception is increasing lawsuits and court cases in which Christians are being treated as second-class citizens and being denied what is available to everyone else.
Recently, the news featured an incident that clearly illustrates this trend. Calvary Chapel, a church in the state of Nevada, took advantage of the local school district’s flier distribution program to promote their youth events, such as a youth night or a Harvest Party. Well, earlier this year the school district changed its policy and no longer allows any fliers that “promote a religious opinion/belief.” Though the church added a disclaimer to their flier, which stated that the school did not endorse their events, they still were excluded because the fliers contained phrases like “worship night” or “devotional.”
This is unconstitutional because it shows hostility toward religion by excluding private speech that just happens to be Christian.
First Liberty, the religious freedom group defending Calvary Chapel, argues that this is unconstitutional because it shows hostility toward religion by excluding private speech that just happens to be Christian. The flier program is intended to let parents know about community events—it’s a facially neutral program. Not to include Christians is to show hostility toward religion.
And, if the church must take any “religious” language off their fliers, it defeats the purpose of the flier—to let people know the nature of an event so they can make an informed decision about whether to allow their children to attend.
Not being included in a flier distribution program may seem like a small thing, but it points toward the growing trend in our culture that says everything must be secular—your religion (really, your Christianity) is for you alone, and it has no place in the public sphere. And that’s not real religious freedom at all! More and more, we are seeing a loss of the free exercise of Christianity in America, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution! The free exercise of religion is allowed, however, for the secular religion of humanism.
As our culture becomes increasingly secular, we’re going to continue seeing hostility increase toward what they call religion—in reality it’s hostility in particular toward Christianity. Why? Because, ultimately, this is a spiritual battle we’re fighting.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
We need to pray that religious liberties will be preserved in America and other nations, but that, if they are not, we will continue to stand boldly for Christ and preach the gospel to a dying world. And be prepared to contend with those engaged in Christian persecution, which is on the increase in our Western world.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.