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Legislating Liberty—Who Decides?

Legislating Liberty—Who Decides?
  • The United States is attempting to address cultural changes brought about by the rise of secularism, especially where it conflicts with religious belief and liberty

  • A new poll shows more Americans support protections from government interference in religious practice

  • Bible prophecy says that religious liberty and worship will be key issues at the end of time

Religious liberty, a long-held American value enshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights, has provided the driving force for religious growth and expression across multiple belief systems in the nation. In the past thirty years, however, religious values have shifted, with Americans becoming much more secular. This has often led to conflicts between religious practice and government law.

According to a recent poll, in contrast with this shift toward unbelief, support for religious liberty appears to be on the rise. But how this plays out in the reality of everyday life and religious practice seems unclear.

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.” He was referencing several recent legal challenges that argued the federal government was unconstitutionally interfering with religious practice, including those put forth by Catholic nuns and Hobby Lobby against elements of the Affordable Care Act.

Historically, religious liberty issues have revolved around accommodation for days of worship, such as the seventh-day Sabbath, or styles of dress, but now the issues are entering the realm of services provided, such as health care, adoption services, and even the wedding industry.

In an attempt to navigate these challenging dilemmas, the U.S. Department of Justice is creating a religious liberty task force to help guide federal and state agencies through the complicated intersection of secularism and religious commitment. But Sessions appears to have an agenda that favors the religious, saying, “This Department of Justice is going to court across America to defend the rights of people of faith.” [1]

The apostle Paul recognized the challenges that would be faced by religious people at this time in history when he wrote, “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).

As Bible believers, we should take special note of the dangers that surround us, especially the apostle’s warning: “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” None of us are immune to the attractions of sin, especially in a culture designed to make many sins acceptable. Our only safety is in the transforming grace and power found in Christ and His Word, as it changes our lives and recreates us into His likeness. (See John 17:17 and Ephesians 2:8–10.)

Still, as our government attempts to solve the religious liberty challenges facing our country, we have to ask, “What is their standard—and is it accurate?” Bible prophecy outlines in Revelation 13 and 14 that religious and civil powers will unite under the common goal of unified belief and worship, forcing people to choose between the kingdom of God and Satan's kingdom. The prophet explains that this union will grow to worldwide proportions: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Only those who follow Jesus will escape this overwhelming deception.

The trends in our culture and government point toward a soon fulfillment of these and many other Scriptural passages. “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–6). Jesus is surely coming soon!

At this crucial time, God’s people are called to proclaim a message of faithfulness outlined by the three angels in Revelation 14. In this last-day message, we find a clear call to worship and obedience to all of God’s moral laws, including the Sabbath commandment. “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7). “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

While we still have some semblance of religious liberty in our country, let us hold fast to the Bible and the faith of Christ in learning more about God’s holy seventh-day Sabbath and how it is a key component in the final conflict between good and evil. Click here and take a few minutes to watch this fascinating Bible study—and be sure to share it with your friends and family.