Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Why Is Freedom of Religion Important?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the fact that all people desire the right to live according to their beliefs and consciences. Freedom of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment means that government cannot force Americans to believe or not believe in a particular manner.

            As the portion of religious Americans shrinks, many Americans forget or lose understanding about the importance of religious freedom. We need look no further than the case of Wang Yi, a Christian pastor in China who is imprisoned. He was sentenced to “nine years in prison, stripped of his political rights for three years, and fined 50,000 yuan. His sentence is harsh and symptomatic of a broader crackdown in China on Christians and people of all faiths.”

            Wang was arrested and taken into custody before Christmas a year ago as part of a “new crackdown on religion” by the Communist Party of China. The government shut down “three large, unregistered churches” that included Wang’s congregation. His wife and more than 100 members of his congregation were also arrested. All were later released but Wang, who is not the only person of religious faith being targeted for his beliefs.

For Christians, churches in China have been shuttered and pastors and congregants imprisoned – some even killed, like Li Baiguang. For Catholics, the Vatican has capitulated to Beijing’s demands to share control over the appointments of bishops in China. For Muslims, more than 1 million Uighurs have been arbitrarily detained in political reeducation facilities, and other Muslims are facing increasing persecution.

For Buddhists, Tibetans continue to face restrictions on religious practice and the use of the Tibetan language. For Falun Gong, members of the group face various forms of persecution, and some have even allegedly had their organs harvested.

People of all faiths are enduring persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, which seeks to eliminate the political threat it sees from religious practice.

            Freedom of religion is important because our beliefs and consciences is the core of who we are as human beings. Heavenly Father gave agency to all His children in our pre-mortal life because He wanted us to live our lives as we choose. He will never force us to believe in Him and be obedient to His commandments. However, He desires us to use our agency to choose to believe in Him and His Son Jesus Christ and to be obedient to their commandments and teachings. He wants us to choose to return to His presence to live with the Father and the Son for eternity. We must have agency to do so as well as freedom of religion. Therefore, we must protect and preserve freedom of religion is our nation.

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