Religious Freedom Challenged—What Would George Washington Say?

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The George I’m referring to was the first President of the United States and, of course, was one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Washington presided over the convention that drafted the US Constitution, and the name given to the first ten amendments was the Bill of Rights. These ten amendments guaranteed a number of personal freedoms.

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows:

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.

Note that the First Amendment is not just guaranteeing freedom of religion but also “the free exercise thereof.”

Christians are increasingly being restricted in their free exercise of religion in America.

Today, however, we’re seeing an increasing number of instances where the free exercise of religion is being restricted (particularly toward Christianity). The secularists who disagree with Christianity do have the free exercise of their own religion/worldview, but Christians increasingly are being restricted in their free exercise. It’s a part of the secularists’ growing intolerance of those who disagree with their worldview.

This intolerance is now being played out regarding our life-size Noah’s Ark project, called Ark Encounter, and our ongoing conflict with the State of Kentucky.

Answers in Genesis is working with constitutional law attorneys (who are providing their services free of charge) to counter the State of Kentucky’s decision to deny the Ark project access to the state’s sales tax rebate incentive program. The state contends that the religious nature of our project should somehow exclude its equal participation in the rebate program, but Kentucky’s position is a blatant violation of federal and state law. We have taken legal action against the state in the form of a lawsuit in order to protect our religious liberties.

Stay tuned for ongoing developments on this legal matter, as AiG recognizes the huge implications of this dispute for other Christian organizations and individuals nationwide.

So what would George Washington have said about our situation in Kentucky (and with religious liberty as a whole in the USA)? Many of the Founding Fathers were Christians, and by and large they had a Judeo-Christian ethic and it came out of the Bible.

I believe Washington would be horrified at what is happening in the nation he helped found! He would be wondering how the First Amendment could be so misinterpreted. An amendment that was supposed to guarantee freedom of religion is now being used to enforce freedom from Christianity.

Creation Wise: Freedom from Religion

This matter of reinterpretation reminds me of the creation/evolution debate, for both are worldview issues. The facts involved can be the same, but the interpretation of them leads to the differences.

Just as I explained in my debate with Bill Nye (TV’s “Science Guy”) last year, he and I have the same fossils, the same earth, the same living species—it’s not the facts that are different in regard to the origins issue. The difference is the worldviews that Bill Nye and I hold. My worldview is founded in God’s Word, whereas Nye’s belief system is founded in man’s word. We look through those worldview “glasses” as we examine the evidence. Ultimately, we will have a conflict of worldviews.

The same observation can apply to how the amendments to the U.S. Constitution are viewed today. The judges who interpret the law all have the same Constitution, but the reason it is being reinterpreted (particularly the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment) is because an increasing number of judges hold to a secular worldview. Thus, in essence, they are imposing that worldview (which is really a secular religion) on the culture. In a legal system based strictly on a secular worldview, the Christian worldview will be restricted, and that is what is happening in many parts of America.

As I shared with you last month, AiG is pursuing legal action against the state of Kentucky as it attempts to restrict our freedom at the future Ark Encounter (in both hiring, and the biblical messages we will present). For the sake of religious freedom of all ministries, which are guaranteed by the First Amendment, we have headed to court.

Keep watch for more Ark news on this crucial religious freedom issue at AnswersForFreedom.org.

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