Freedom of Speech in a Religious Assembly Let Freedom Ring “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (KJV Psalm 9:17). An average of over 160,000 Christians have been killed every year since 1990 (Colson). Statistically speaking there have been more recorded Christian martyrs in the twentieth century than all other centuries combined. In our technologically advanced, sociologically evolved society how is this possible? Weather one believes this is a Christian nation, this is not a Christian nation, or this is a nation of citizens, regardless of their opinion statistics cannot be ignored.
What type of social climate leads to such devastating acts of religious genocide? Events such as these transpire when a people begin to ignore a very simple constitutional concept. “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”(First Amendment: Farish). Unfortunately it is through much turmoil, persecution and oppression when a people with a great vision for the common good rise up out of the ashes of tyranny.
This vision is the same vision our forefathers incarnated and shared over two hundred years ago when we declared our independence from Mother Britain. Therefore freedom of speech should remain our first constitutional right without limitation regardless of circumstance. The Preamble states “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”(Hennessey).
Our founding fathers, with an understanding of what copulates tyranny, set out to seek and to construct a better country. A country that once edified will not encroach on the God given liberties dictators so commonly set out to destroy. Liberties ordained to a people by the “Supreme Ruler of the Universe” (Bechtle). However through the process of time and what some call social evolution, the freedom of a people is inevitably stripped and tyrannically regulated.
The framers appeared to be standing with the birth of a great nation on one side an oppressed one on the other with a fixed impassible gulf in between. They were left with the task of designing a machine that would unify both sides. How does one design a sort of living machine without the machine turning on its designer? How do a people initiate freedom without freedom taking on a metamorphosis? The ability to design freedom for one group without limiting it to another became a sort of a double edged sword to the framers.
William Douglas, in his book, stated “The United States, we say, stands for freedom. But just what is this freedom and how is it expressed in our daily lives” (Douglas)? His book exhorts on the concept that the understanding of our founding fathers was that freedom is not self endowed but given to us by our Creator (capital “C” in the original declaration) that many of the colonist who came from the old world, which denied them the freedom of belief and worship, came in search of liberty.
Douglas declares the birth of our nation dates back to the Declaration of Independence which states “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” Excerpts from the Bill of Rights, the first Amendment to the Constitution, the first Article in the Declaration of Rights under the state of Washington Constitution, and various Constitutional documents show a clear pattern of the peoples mindset who designed our present means of freedom.
The design of our present day system was initiated with the intent to protect the freedom of speech in an assembly to worship our divine Creator willingly out of sincerity. Considering the documents which inspired the framer this statement may appear as pathos, or even ethos from a secularly philosophical standpoint, but when you research what inspired our forefathers it is actually logos. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (KJV Colossians 2:8).
Translated more from the Greek it would read “See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah)” (AMP). The foundations of beliefs in the First Amendment were evident and precise. First, there was a belief that a higher law existed over all” (Farish). This is important to understand in order to assess the inspiration of our Constitution. When one can analyze without bias the original format of our foundational documents there is an underlying code patterning the mind and character of our Constitutional system. The backbone of the system was to exercise the ability to worship freely without surrendering it solely to the trust of a governmental body by the means of a federally mandated religion. Freedom of speech was the means to the preservation of a way of life.
Jonathan Bechtle and Michael Reitz in their book quoted Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna that in the drafting of the Washington Constitution, the delegates “understood the need to carefully articulate the rights of our citizens-and just as importantly, to codify limits to the state government’s authority to infringe on those rights. ” What does this mean? This means that over one hundred years later the character of our living document remained preserved for a people one century later. “Our Constitution and its first ten amendments were written by many of the same people who led the American Revolution” (Farish).
The framers had deep convictions to worship their Creator freely in a church assembly setting. However coming from a nation of corrupt tyrannical religious ties they knew the concept of a federal state religion in the process of time would fall into the wrong hands and the ones that would suffer the most would be not the leadership but “We the People. ” This was a pattern the framers were all too familiar with. They were not ignorant to historical facts neither governmental corruption to the point even if the government proclaimed the cross of Christ.
The government of the New World can call itself a Christian nation but the reality lied in the character of humanity’s inability to handle too much power. “Our American revolutionaries distrusted human nature and believed that it had a natural tendency to grasp power”(Farish). Therefore the early framers were not so eager after the inception of a new nation to fall under the control of another king but to design in the midst of their government limits to prevent the abuse of power. The First Amendment clearly states the government not to abridge freedom of speech and the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
Too many times has the straight forward exhortation and preaching of the Bible come under attack by those who care not for its principles and values. The pattern of history clearly shows us an underlying motive not only to shut down the freedom to testify of Christ and abominable sins but to annihilate the speakers themselves. Evidence of our present day conditions concerning martyred Christians rings clearly the intent to gradually and if allowed without empathy to silence the mouths of the outspoken believers.
A present record of seventy million Christians were killed for their faith in two hundred and twenty countries across twenty centuries. “Sixty five percent” of those recorded deaths “happened in the twentieth century” (Socci). The twentieth century ended only 12 years ago. Clearly understood by our founding fathers the concept of freedom of speech in a church assembly had to be preserved in a fashion as to even exercise the right to speak against unlawful and unmoral governmental actions.
One of the keys to preserving this freedom was to safeguard against intervention by a corrupt federal body when ““We the People. ”” speak against this federal body. Historically to speak against a king, dictator, or a government meant death. The framers with a vast in depth understanding not only general history but typically Roman history and the fall there of had to construct a means to sustain the freedom of speech when inevitably the government itself will be ran by those who oppose the spirit of the book they hold true and dear to their hearts and minds.
In regards to freedom there is no better country than the United States of America and no greater present day Constitution as The Constitution of the United States. As great as they are the trail of history proves the time will come where the inspiration of our freedom will come under such great attack by the opposing force that those who disagree will either accept the change or suffer martyrdom. As subtly as possible, the serpent like constricting grip around the freedom of speech to the church, attempts to squeeze tighter every given opportunity, the breath of the people diminish more and more with each constriction.
One with a vision cannot help but to see a trail all too familiar. A trail and a pattern leading to “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (KJV Psalm 9:17). But “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (KJV IIChronicles 7:14). Let Freedom Ring!