It is a great irony that churches are being treated as public nuisances today in America. Anti-Christian groups have been working diligently to secularize America and erase its religious heritage. These groups have pressured government and courts to intrude into the affairs of churches.
Churches are being discriminated against by local governments. Pastors are even being censored.
It was not always this way. From the beginning, our Founding Fathers established our country on religious freedom. They believed religious freedom was so important they enshrined it in the U.S. Constitution.
Throughout our nation’s history, churches have been recognized as a great benefit to society and pastors have had the freedom to openly declare the truth about matters of moral and religious conviction.
Consider this one example of anti-Christian discrimination. In New York City, the school board has been trying for nearly two decades to block Bronx Household of Faith from meeting in an empty public school building during non-school hours. Other groups, however, are welcome to rent the same facilities.
This is a church that has fed the poor and needy, assisted in rehabilitating drug addicts and gang members, helped rebuild marriages and families, and generally provided services of great value free of charge to the community.
It seems like the government, embarrassed at its inability to solve the community’s problems, is lashing out at the one institution – the Church – that is actually doing something about them.
In June, a U.S. District Court issued a permanent injunction against the school’s ban on the Bronx Household of Faith worship services. The ruling found that when the government uses religion as the factor that disqualifies a community group from using a school building, the government violates the unique protections the First Amendment grants to religious liberty.
Despite this excellent ruling, the school is continuing to fight in court to evict the church and many others like it.
This case in New York City is just one example of the anti-Christian hostility churches face every day in America. Even if you have not directly experienced this hostility or discrimination yourself, it affects you.
Here are five reasons why you should care about church freedom:
1) You are a member of Christ’s Body. Even if you are not facing an anti-Christian attack directly, as a member of the Body of Christ, you are affected. The Bible says, “if one member suffers, all suffer together.”
2) You care about your community. The historic role of the Church in American communities is one of caring for the weak and the poor, the widow and the orphan. If churches are squeezed out, the weak are left to depend only on the government.
3) You do not want your church to lose its tax-exempt status. From the beginning of our country, churches were considered so beneficial to the community there was never a serious question about forcing them to pay taxes. But across America, activist groups are demanding churches’ tax-exempt status be revoked because of IRS restrictions on what can be taught from the pulpit.
4) You do not want the government censoring your pastor’s sermons. When churches are pressured by the government, pastors can feel forced to limit what they say from the pulpit on such important matters as what Scripture says about candidates and elections.
5) You care about the spread of the Gospel. The end result of anti-Christian attacks on churches is that the proclamation of the Truth of the Gospel is hindered.
It really all comes back to those wonderful words in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .” That is the very first liberty guaranteed in our Bill of Rights, and we pray that no effort to prohibit free exercise succeeds.
Learn more about how Alliance Defending Freedom is fighting for the rights of churches, and how your tax-deductible, year-end gift will provide vital resources needed to fight more legal battles in 2013.
This post originally appeared here.