To the Editor:
There is a subtle, insidious and dangerous movement afoot these days. It seeks to replace our constitutionally-protected right to “the free exercise of religion” with a narrower and more restrictive “freedom to worship.” But they are not the same. Not even close.
James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” He goes on to say: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
When Christians founded this country’s first hospitals and universities on their principles, they were exercising their religion. When they used a governmentally-recognized “conscientious objector” status against the draft, they were exercising their religion. When they protest abortion-on-demand, they are exercising their religion. Believers martyred for refusing to renounce Christ, from ancient Rome to today’s Middle East, were and are exercising their religion. Voters whose Christian beliefs guide their electoral decisions are exercising their religion. Those delivering meals to the poor and elderly, ministering to the sick, and sharing the Gospel to a hostile world for 2,000 years are exercising their religion. And none of it happens behind church doors.
When Christians violate the teachings of our faith, we are called “hypocrites.” And so we are. But when he who complains about what we did on Saturday night demands in the next breath that we confine our religion to Sunday morning, that is also hypocrisy.
James R. Stein