COMMENTARY

Religious freedom and Election Day: How are you voting?

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This election, like no other election in the history of our nation, will decide whether the First Amendment rights of believers to freely assemble and worship will survive another generation. 


This election, like no other election in the history of our nation, will decide whether religious freedom will survive another generation or whether religious freedom as we know it today will be cast upon the ash heap of history, similar to school prayer, the posting of the Ten Commandments, reading the Bible, the ability to pray and conduct Bible studies at home and, yes, even the ability to build churches in small and large communities across America.


What is happening in America today seems to reflect the words of Ronald Reagan when he said:
“America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.” 


So are we on God’s side, or have we chosen, as a people, to place God on a shelf and out of the way except in those rare circumstances when, as a people, we find it convenient to turn to God in our moments of need. 


For the past months, we have been buried under an avalanche of political commercials extolling the virtues of voting for this candidate or the other.  This candidate is for tax reform and this candidate is not.  This candidate is for healthcare for everyone, and this candidate is not. This candidate is for border security, and this candidate is not. The list of what candidates are for, and what candidates are against, is endless.


What we rarely hear in most of these political commercials is which candidate is for religious freedom, and which candidate is not.


What we really need to understand before we cast our votes on Nov. 6 is whether our vote will be cast to support a candidate who will stand firmly in the gap for religious freedom, or whether our vote will be cast to support a secular candidate who believes in a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.


If you think your vote doesn’t matter when it comes to religious freedom, think about the family who lives in a small community outside of Pittsburgh that has been ordered to stop using their private property to host Bible studies.  Or, think about the assistant football coach from a Washington state high school who was fired for praying on the field after the games.  Or, think about the baker from Colorado who was persecuted by local government officials simply for standing firm about his belief in the sanctity of marriage. 

Finally, and closer to home, think about the church in central Kentucky that has been ordered to abandon its bus ministry which allows nearly 800 otherwise unchurched believers to attend weekly services or risk having the necessary building permits for its new building denied because a single government bureaucrat doesn’t want the church’s buses on a few feet of a state road for less than 60 minutes each week. 


What each of these examples have in common is that each of the decisions to interfere with the religious freedom of these believers would not have been possible if the elected official supported religious freedom, instead of a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. 


What each of these examples have in common is that your vote on Nov. 6 counts, and counts more than any of us could ever have imagined.  The outcome of this election will decide the fate of religious liberty in America. When you vote, will you decide to cast a vote for religious liberty or will you decide to cast a vote in support of a march to a secular society, a society which rejects all forms of faith and religious worship?


So, as I often do, I will ask each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop and join me in prayer as we consider those who we will vote for on Election Day.

And when we pray, pray that God will give each of us the patience of Job, as we consider each candidate's stand on religious liberty; pray that God will give each of us the wisdom of Solomon as we decide which candidate stands for religious liberty; and, finally, pray that if the outcome of this election falls short because believers decide to stay home on Election Day that God will give each of us the courage of David to go down to the brook to gather five smooth stones for the coming spiritual battle which is  being waged, a spiritual  battle which will ultimately decide where we worship, how we worship, whether we will be able to worship, or whether religious liberty will find itself buried on the ash heap of religious freedoms which have already been stolen from us.


Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky.


Kentucky Today’s Perspectives section provides a public forum for our readers to express their views on issues of importance. The opinions expressed are those of the writer and should not be construed as an official position taken by this newspaper. We encourage you to join in the conversation by sending your essays to editor@kentuckytoday.com. We reserve the right to reject submissions deemed inappropriate.

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