Amid all the impeachment hysteria and angst waiting for Attorney General Barr to expose deeply embedded government corruption, good news is often lost; especially since the main stream media has no interest in any good tidings in the era of Trump. The economy is still roaring and setting employment and stock records; and even long stagnant wages are finally rising. Despite regular dire predictions of death and war, President Trump has our enemies at bay and has not started any new conflicts. But perhaps his greatest policy legacy passed little noticed and without fanfare.
President Trump celebrated 16 January 2020 “Religious Freedom Day” with some far reaching proclamations. Religious Freedom Day commemorates the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom passed by the Virginia General Assembly 16 January 1786. Authored by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia Statute was the basis for the First Amendment. It clearly stated: “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”
Though not really known as a man of faith, Trump has been very forceful for religious freedom. President of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, said “President Trump has proven once again that he is the most religion-friendly president in the modern era.” Already back in 2017, Trump struck a blow for religious freedom with an Executive Order directing the IRS to relax enforcement of the 1954 Johnson Amendment which prohibited pastors and preachers from political speech lest their churches lose their non-profit status.
Back in the early 1950s, then Texas Congressman Lyndon Banes Johnson was suffering some severe criticism from clergy in his district, so he muzzled them and all clergy with his 1954 Amendment. Much more than a raw political tactic, the Johnson Amendment effectively silenced the moral component of political debate; and what followed? Playboy, removal of prayer from school, and the deleterious pursuit of unrestrained hedonism in the 1960s. The decline in public morality was debilitating, but the damage to political speech was devastating.
Banishing clergy from the political forum was un-American. It was the fire in colonial pulpits demanding freedom that spurred our founding fathers to secure our independence. Freedom of religion is the FIRST freedom and really the only one that counts. The faithful demand freedom because they need freedom to worship as they choose. Faith and religious convictions are the cornerstone of human existence. Without faith, we are just another animal looking to eat, sleep, and reproduce.
People like their creature comforts and material possessions, but people will not go to war over education, healthcare, social security, or any other government program. However, Americans will fight for the right to worship God independently. That’s why the decline of religiosity is a threat to American freedom.
The Obama Administration aggressively sought to oppress religious freedom. They forced many religious institutions to compromise their belief or forgo public funding with gimmicks like requiring such organizations to provide abortions or birth control against their beliefs. Or penalizing them for not embracing the militant LGBTQ agenda. President Trump is working to correct these injustices to fully restore religious freedom.
For this year’s Religious Freedom Day, he has directed the Department of Education to ensure no religious school is denied any public benefit over heir beliefs and that religious groups are afforded the same access as secular groups. Most importantly, President Trump has pledged the power of his office to empower and protect the right to student-led prayer in schools!
President Trump is not only championing religious freedom; he is beating back over a half century of leftist assaults on our freedom of religion. Every tyrannical regime in history has known a secular people will not resist government authority, so they always seek to eliminate faith. Americans cherish their faith and know they need freedom to exercise their faith, so they will fight for it. President Trump knows our faith made America great, so he is staunchly defending the faithful.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Pete Riehm is the host of Common Sense Radio heard 8pm every Thursday on FMTalk106.5 or streaming at fmtalk1065.com. Email him at [email protected] or on Twitter @PeteRiehm or visit http://peteriehm.com.