This week at CBFBlog.com we are celebrating religious liberty and its essential corollary, the separation of church and state. Each day this week, we will have a new religious liberty-themed post up. Be sure to check back throughout the week!
The Celebrating Religious Freedom blog series kicks off with the post below from Rev. Rebecca Mathis. Rebecca serves as the secretary of the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. She resides in Western North Carolina with her husband Jeff, and spends much of her time chasing their two young children, Zeb and Ellen.
by Rebecca Mathis
Each year as the Fourth of July rolls around, we Baptists like to reminisce about risk-taking pioneers of the faith like Thomas Helwys, Roger Williams, Isaac Backus and John Leland. We are proud of their courage to speak truth to power and the ways in which their leadership shaped the ethics of Baptist life and the ethics of our nation.
As a former history teacher, it’s easy for me to get swept away in the interesting stories of the past and to treat religious liberty as something that was fought for and obtained long before I was born.
Yet, if I look around and pay attention, I realize there is still much work to be done in regards to ensuring religious freedom for all.
If we Baptists are going to continue to be passionate advocates for religious liberty in the 21st century, it would serve us well to not only recall our history, but to recall God’s expectations for us as a community of believers. It’s easy to forget that God demands something of us as a community and explicitly lays out guidelines for community ethics in scripture.
Leviticus 19:33-34 is a good place to start:
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Put more simply: Aliens may live with God’s people, should not be oppressed, must be treated as citizens, and loved as one of God’s own.
Through these words to the Israelites, God clearly establishes an ethic of hospitality, justice, fairness and love. God’s people must exceed toleration, recognizing the obligation to welcome aliens as family members and provide for them within the faith community.
So what does loving and welcoming foreigners have to do with religious freedom?
Providing safe space for people to practice their religious expressions (even if we fundamentally disagree with them) is an act of radical hospitality! Look at an earlier verse found in Leviticus 19, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (19:18). God calls for unconditional, nonjudgmental love for both the neighbor and the alien, drawing no distinction between treatment of the two.
To love beyond the self defines the very essence of community responsibility. For the Israelites, loving your neighbor as yourself means seeing the neighbor as a child of God and acknowledging God’s imprint on all people. Ultimately, loving the alien becomes a search for the image of God within the other and a means to practice holiness in daily life.
Baptist advocacy to extend religious liberty to all people serves as a faithful response to God’s ethical standards. God reminds God’s people to treat aliens as citizens. In modern America, this principle requires extension of equal religious freedom to all. Honoring the faith of another, whether a fellow citizen or foreigner, serves as a powerful act of godly love.
God’s commands surpass mere toleration. Offering love to one’s neighbor means offering friendship, radical hospitality and the hope of Christ in every situation.
When understood in light of the biblical imperative to love your neighbor, religious liberty advocacy becomes an expression of one’s effort to live a righteous life within a larger community. Religious freedom and church-state separation go beyond political fairness, natural-rights theory and democratic idealism. Rather, honoring another’s faith tradition and worship practices provides an avenue to love as God loves, without condition.
I am thankful for all of those Baptist saints and sinners who championed religious liberty throughout our history. But the words of scripture remind me that I should not be content with what we have achieved; God calls each of us to continue to be welcoming and loving to all, regardless of our differences.
I hope that when I encounter those with whom I vehemently disagree, I will have the grace to see God’s imprint on them and will love them with the fullness of God’s unfailing love.
Pingback: Is Fourth of July a Religious Holiday? | janes journals
Well put. I’m reminded of the last part of a quote by James Madison: “Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered.” -James Madison
Thank you for these good words, Rebecca. May we be moved to radical hospitality in our personal lives, and our policy making!
Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have book-marked it.
Money and freedom is the greatest way to change,
may you be rich and continue to help other people.
Pingback: Celebrating Religious Freedom: Blog series recap | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog
Purchasenfl jerseys Enduring sunglasses wherevernfl jerseys sunglasses are sold.
In a prepared statement, Luxottica Chief Executive Andrea Guerra called the results,
buoyed by a rebound in U. Oakley Juliet Sunglasses Have it
AllWhen it comes to competitive from trying to win a championship this season.
Many of the shows are held indoors, but Dundas
Square throws some great free events like the Iggy Pop concert last year as
well as ski goggles. ”When Jackson was asked about it,
the Knick guard Gerald Wilkins with 34 points, was the lead referee.
hello!,I like your writing so a lot! proportion we keep in touch
extra about your article on AOL? I require an expert on this house to unravel my problem.
May be that’s you! Looking ahead to look you.
I read this article fully concerning the comparison of
hottest and previous technologies, it’s amazing article.
A motivating discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you ought to publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not speak about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!
Hi, this weekend is good for me, as this moment i am reading this
fantastic educational piece of writing here at my residence.
Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this amazing site needs far
more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!
It is in reality a nice and helpful piece of information.
I’m satisfied that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I
stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and use something from other websites.
It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you
wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further
formerly again as exactly the same nearly
a lot often inside case you shield this increase.
Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all florida marine survey.
Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate
your efforts and I will be waiting for your further post
thank you once again.
This excellent website really has all the info I needed
about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, wht a stuff!
existing here at this website, thanks admin of this webb site.
It’ѕ enߋrmous that you are getting thoughts from this post as well as from our discussion
mazde aat this place.
Hello, after reading this awesome article i am
also cheerful too share my knowledge here with mates.
Quality articles or reviews is the important to attract the viewers to pay a quick visit
the website, that’s what this web site is providing.
You should take part in a contest for one of the finest blogs on the web.
I’m going to recommend this web site!
Wow, this piece of writing is fastidious, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore
I am going to inform her.
It’s an remarkable post for all the online
people; they will take advantage from it I am sure.
Terrific work! That is the type of info that should be shared around the
net. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this publish
upper! Come on over and consult with my website . Thanks
free manufacturer printable coupons
free coupons applebees
Appreciation to my father who stated to me concerning
this blog, this webpage is actually awesome.
Hello, its pleasant post regarding medioa print, we all
know media is a impressive source of information.