Mandatory vaccines, abortion on demand, men competing in women’s sports, children being forced by the state to coercively change their sex!

There is, perhaps, no principle more ingrained in U.S. law and the very foundations of Americanism than freedom of religion. Nevertheless, it is under assault by two of the three branches of the federal government – the executive and legislative – while the third, and often the least powerful of the tripartite system, is making something of a comeback.

In addition, powerful cultural institutions – including most of the press, academia, taxpayer-supported education, the entertainment industry, major and well-endowed foundations, and Big Tech – soft-pedal the attacks, misrepresent them or actually champion them.

It’s surreal. It’s existential. It’s incoherent. It’s illogical. Never has the United States faced a more serious threat to its most basic freedom.

Even more dangerous is the fact that most Americans don’t understand how all other constitutionally guarded liberties are in danger – including freedom of speech – should this trend must go unchallenged.

The clear intent of the law was to protect the religious freedom of individuals so they cannot be coerced to participate in actions that would violate their sincerely held religious convictions. From the earliest days of America’s founding, this was the very definition of religious freedom.

For instance, in 1779, Thomas Jefferson, often cited by today’s skeptics as their inspirational hero, drafted the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom – just three years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and before the drafting of the Constitution and the First Amendment.

It clearly defines what is meant by religious freedom: “Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities” (Emphasis added).

Now there are countless examples of sincere Christians being fined, coerced, jailed, intimidated and ostracized for simply refusing to actively participate in what they consider to be immoral, unbiblical practices. These actions of government render meaningless the entire concept of religious freedom, as defined by Jefferson and accepted by every other Founding Father and universally by Americans for the last 244 years.

Note, again, the last phrase Jefferson includes in his definition. It is the key to understanding religious freedom, which has often been mischaracterized as “freedom of worship.”

Freedom of worship – the right to believe what we want and to attend the religious services we prefer – is dealt with in the first component of Jefferson’s definition. But the last part of his definition, which has never been controversial in America until the last few years, is under siege.

Today, judges, major corporations, the news media and the popular culture are maintaining that Christians who take their faith seriously and into the public square are bigots, guilty of discrimination and must put their beliefs aside rather than translate them into personal action and conduct.

Clearly, this was never the intent of Jefferson and the other Founders. It’s not what is meant in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If this trend is permitted to continue, not only will the entirety of the First Amendment fall – the protections of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to petition of the government for redress of grievances – but so will the rest of the Constitution and every other right it guards.

“The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” by Joseph Farah is available in both hardcover and e-book versions.

ALSO: Get Joseph Farah’s book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom. Also available as an e-book.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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