While it may seem cliche, I am very thankful that I live in a country where we can worship God freely and openly without infringement. As of today anyway.
Just because it is that way now, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way if we do not guard it carefully. There is a huge force to minimize ((
Hallowell, Billy. “NYC Teacher Claims She was Harassed, Then Fired Over Her Christian Faith.” The Blaze. 23 May 2011. Accessed 3 July 2013 )), to trivialize ((Unruh, Bob. “College Defends Prof Who Mocked Christians.” WD. 23 January 2010. Accessed 3 July 2013. )),and even to criminalize (( Klukowski, Ken. “Pentagon May Court Martial Soldiers Who Share Christian Faith.” Brietbart. 1 May 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) Bible believing Christians. We are the new group that is on the government “watch lists.” (( Starnes, Todd. “Us Army Labeled Evangelicals, Catholics as Examples of Religious Extremism.” Fox Nation. 5 April 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) People are being penalized (( Harthorne, Michael. “Video Shows men attacking religious protesters at Pridefest.” Komo News. 3 July 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) for standing firm for their faith.
It is also significant that the day we are celebrating our independence, the citizens of Egypt are fighting for theirs in an uprising against Morsi and his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime. (( Kingsley, Patrick. Chulov, Martin. “Mohamed Morsi ousted in Egypt’s second revolution in two years.” The Guardian. 3 July 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) One where sharia law (( Brown, Ed. “Morsi’s New Egyptian Sharia Law Constitution Jails and Abuses Christians.” DC Xposed. 20 January 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) is the law of the land, Christians are being shot within their churches (( CFI Field Staff. “Coptic Church in Egypt Burned by Muslim Crowd.” Christian Freedom International. 7 October 2011. Accessed 3 July 2012. )) (( “6 Coptic Christians in Egypt Shot Dead as They Left Christmas Mass.” Assyrian International News Agency. 7 January 2010. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) (( Laessing, Ulf. “New clashes erupt between Coptic Christians, Muslims in Cairo.” Reuters. The Christian Science Monitor. 7 April 2013. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) (( Hennessy-Fiske, Molly, Hassan, Amro. “Egypt: Shooting, clashes at Coptic Christian sit-in injure at least 60.” Los Angeles Times 15 May 2011. Accessed 3 July 2013. )) , and women are treated as chattel (( Ibrahim, Raymond. “Egypt’s Sex-Slave Marriage.” The Gatestone Institute International Policy Council. 5 July 2012. Accessed 3 July 2012. )) .
We are not immune to despotism. We are not so sophisticated and evolved that what is happening in other countries couldn’t happen here.
Before the economic depression and conspiracy theories gripped Germany and catapulted the Nazi party into power, Germany was one of the most sophisticated and solidly Christian countries in Europe. It had been one of the most welcoming countries for Jews prior to the Nazis. When the persecution started inching in step by step, most Jews didn’t leave because they were German citizens.
If it could happen in Germany, it could happen here. One (of many) of the steps was the curtailing of religious freedom. There were outright restrictions on the Jews, but it was more insidious in the Christian church. Hitler essentially coopted it and attempted to create a “unified” German church. They cried “peace when there was no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who was hanged for standing up to Hitler, shared with his friend Rabbi Wise.”
What Bonhoeffer came away with from his New York experience was a willingness to stand by the true faith. He wrote to Rabbi Wise, telling him what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, and how the “religious” people were complacent.
“There were many German churchgoers, whether they were Christians or not I don’t know, but they went to church and somehow they made peace with the Nazis,” Metaxas says. “They thought there was nothing wrong. Bonhoeffer had such a devoted faith he knew without any question that the Nazis were anti-Christian and they were evil, and if he didn’t stand against them he would have to answer to God.” (( Green, Lauren. “New Bio of Executed WWII Pastor/Spy Reveals U.S. Influence.” Fox News. 9 April 2010. Accessed 3 July 2013. ))
If we turn a blind eye to what is going on around us, not only will we have to answer to God, but we will lose the freedoms that we have and often take for granted.
God Bless America – We Shall Overcome
From the Independence Day worship service at my church on June 30, 2013
“God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” – Benjamin Franklin. Constitutional Convention of 1787, original manuscript of this speech