A recent poll by Summit.org, found that the vast majority of Americans believe in religious freedom, despite the messages we are receiving from the mainstream media and some politicians, that Christians must bow to secular authority and opinions.
The poll, conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, asked 1,000 Americans, who were likely voters, if they agreed with the statement that government has the right to force religious people to participate in practices that would violate their religious beliefs.
Seventy-five percent said that the government does not have the right to force a person to violate their religious beliefs, and only 16% believed that government should be able to do this.
Of course, once politics were thrown into the mix, the number varied, with 80% of Republicans and 78% of Independents stating the government does not have the right to violate a person’s religious beliefs. While still in a clear majority, only 64% of Democrats held the same position.
And in a second question, people were asked if they agreed with a statement by America’s founders “that our rights are given to us by our Creator and not by government.”
In answer to this question, 73% of Americans agreed that our freedoms are God-given, that we are subject to a higher authority, while 27% basically stated that the founders were wrong in holding this belief.
But religious freedom is a major Biblical theme, as several key stories involved accounts of governments forcing people to violate their beliefs. In the Book of Daniel, two key stories revolved around this specific issue.
When Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, created a massive idol and told everyone that they must bow down and worship this statue when the music played, three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused because it violated their belief in Jehovah. The three were cast into massive fire as punishment, but were miraculously spared (Daniel 3:26).
The second involved Daniel, when he prayed to Jehovah, as was his custom, even though a law had been passed that for a month people were only allowed to pray to the King of Persia, who had overthrown the Babylonians in a bloodless coup. After he was caught, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den as punishment (Daniel 6:6-9).
And again, in the Book of Acts, Jewish authorities forbid the apostles from preaching Jesus in Jerusalem, even though by the response to the apostles’ teaching, thousands of Jews wanted to hear this message.
In one instance, the apostles were jailed by authorities for doing this (Acts 5:17-18). But that night an angel actually broke the apostles out of jail, even though this act violated human law (Acts 5:19), and this was not the only time that angels did this in the Book of Acts (see also Acts 12:6-7).
After the jailbreak, the apostles were brought before Jerusalem’s authority and told to quit preaching Jesus. But in response, the Apostle Peter said they were subject to a higher authority, and must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
And when the Summit poll asked Americans if religious people have the right to practice civil obedience when the government clearly violated their religious freedoms, 57% of Americans said they did.
It is important to understand that the attacks on religious freedoms are coming from a small handful of totalitarians who are intent on restricting what beliefs you can hold in the public arena.
This is not a view held by the majority of Americans.