The first war fought in the name of the new American Republic was the “War for Independence” (1775–83). In the Declaration of Independence (1776), the American founders declared, in the preamble, “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” One of the liberties they fought to secure was the right to worship God according to conscience, without the constraint of defying an established church. In the new American Republic there would be no national state-church. By 1817 all the various state-churches had been disestablished.
There are two threats to religious liberty, one obvious, one less so. First, in our late-modern period, as ignorance of religion generally spreads and hostility toward Christianity in particular seems to increase. It was more obvious under the two Obama administrations, as the American left used the influence of the federal government to try to curtail religious speech with which they disagreed.
The second threat is less obvious and that is the strange, almost romantic attraction that American evangelicals and others have to the idea of a state-church. This is due to two things: 1) the assumption that a state-church would better protect their religious liberty; 2) ignorance of the history of the European and British state-churches and of the causes of the American revolution. These two things are inextricably bound together.
Insofar as man is incurably religious and insofar as secularism (not the secular sphere) is a myth, humans will always seek to fill the void left by the removal of the last religion with a new one. La religion du jour seems to be Critical Theory as manifested in Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Theory. These are species of a totalitarian, legal-eschatological religion that demands state-enforcement and complete submission. Hence we see mobs demanding that Americans recite creeds or face economic repercussions or perhaps, in some cases, physical violence.
In the spirit of preserving the civic good of religious liberty, here is a new resource page (also linked on the HB Resources page) devoted religious liberty:
© R. Scott Clark 2020. All Rights Reserved.