In our rapidly changing culture, some are now demanding that Christians hide their faith in public.
Recently, First Liberty, a non-profit legal organization defending religious freedoms in America, sent a letter to a school district in Texas that allegedly forced students wanting to pray at lunch time to hide behind a curtain.
According to First Liberty the problem started when a group of students from Honey Grove Middle School in Honey Grove, Texas met during lunch hour to pray for a former student who had been injured in an accident.
When the school principal saw them praying he ordered them to stop. When the students met the next day to try praying again, the principal said that they needed to either go behind the curtains in the cafeteria or into the gym or even outside if they wanted to pray.
At the bequest of student Hannah Allen and her mother, First Liberty sent a letter to the school district telling them that under the US Constitution the school had no business infringing on student’s right to prayer during lunch time.
In an interview with WND.com, First Liberty said:
“In other words, the students were told that they could not pray for each other. Students should not have to hide or be exiled to pray for each other. School officials need to remember that students don’t lose their First Amendment rights at the school-house gate.”
As a result of the letter, the school has since backed down.
In October, a Idaho couple won their court case allowing them to put on a Christmas light display at their home.
When the Morris family bought a home in Hayden, Idaho in 2015, they continued their practice of an elaborate Christmas display (200,000 lights) celebrating the birth of Christ. This included a five-day event that featured free drinks, food, live animals, actors and music that ran between 6 pm and 8 pm that resulted in hundreds of people visiting the display.
Jeremy had received all the necessary city permits to do this. However, the Couer d’Alene Press reported when the family held their first event in 2016 some of the visitors to the display alleged they were threatened by neighbors.
Then when the West Hayden States First Addition Homeowners Association (HOA) sent a letter telling the Morris family they would not be allowed to do this, it also cited a religious reason:
“I am somewhat hesitant in bringing up the fact that some of our residents are non-Christians or of another faith and I don’t even want to think of the problems that could bring up…. we do not wish to become entwined in any expensive litigation to enforce long-standing rules and regulation and fill our neighborhood with hundreds of people and possible undesirables.”
The Couer d’Alene Press reported that an earlier version of the HOA letter specified that many of the people in the estate were “avowed atheists.”
However, the family father, Jeremy Morris, is also a lawyer and along with help from Liberty Counsel, another non-profit legal firm dedicated to protecting religious freedom, took the HOA board to court citing religious discrimination.
Jeremy won and the jury awarded the Morris family $75,000.
In an interview with the Couer d’Alene Press, Liberty Counsel lawyer Richard Mast said:
“There’s a great deal of myth, smoke and mirrors surrounding the Establishment Clause, and what it permits and prohibits. The general cultural milieu is that people think that if it’s in public, I can’t express my faith. That’s not by accident. There are activists and organizations that want to project that, to make it culturally unacceptable for people to freely exercise their faith, whatever it may be.”
The HOA has also counter sued the Morris family and that case has not yet been resolved and their recent victory may also be appealed.
In the Book of Acts, the early church faced similar problems. The rapidly growing church was meeting in Solomon’s Colonnade, an area outside the temple covered by a roof held up by rows of columns.
Concerned about their growing influence, the Jewish leaders had earlier ordered Peter and the Apostles to stop preaching and when they refused had them arrested and thrown in jail.
However, overnight an Angel of the Lord literally broke the Apostles out of prison and told them to return to preaching at the Colonnade (Acts 5:17-21).
When the Jewish leaders found out the Apostles were back at the Colonnade the next morning, they dragged them before the Jewish Sanhedrin for questioning.
However, since an Angel had freed them from their prison, Peter understood God was overruling human law and told the Sanhedrin:
“We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29 NASV)
We need people like the Morris family and Hannah who are willing to stand up for their faith as well as organizations such as First Liberty and Liberty Counsel that will take on these fights.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy decision. In an interview with FoxNews, Jeremy said there were moments he and his wife wondered if they should fight HOA on the issue, but felt they needed to make a stand for religious freedom.
- North Texas School Officials Reverse Policy that Denied Students’ Right to Pray During Lunch: First Liberty
- Curtain lifted on students ordered to hide while praying: WND.com
- HOA opposed family’s Christmas display because it might offend atheists, attract Walmart ‘rif-raff”: Christian Post
- Jury sides with Morris family in this unusual Christmas story: Coeur d’Alene Press