The Spiritual Tyranny of ‘Religious Liberty’

Commentary
By Stephen Mattson 5-05-2017
U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to sign the Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty. May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

The Christian faith shouldn’t be defined by presidential orders and government mandates. Instead, it’s perfectly represented by the person of Jesus Christ, who told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as we would have done to us.

Unfortunately, the new commands that many Christians are gleefully embracing are presidentially carnal in nature and not divine, and instead of communicating the love of Jesus these laws are further alienating those who’ve already been maligned by the church.

President Donald Trump’s approach to “religious liberty” is contrary to spiritual freedom. Rather than humbly serving and willing to sacrifice for others, Christians are perceived as being protective isolationists who wield political power for their own benefit, often at the expense of others.

At a time when Christian communities should seek Jesus more than ever, they’ve now been encouraged by the president to support and endorse political candidates and turn places of holy worship into pseudo-platforms for partisan politics.

If pastors and spiritual leaders weren’t under enough pressure already, continually having to serve and provide spiritual guidance and direction within their congregations, the newly minted directives open a quagmire of moral and ethical dilemmas, making them especially susceptible to congregants who will certainly lobby and pressure them towards making public endorsements.

Not only will this make Christian institutions more vulnerable to emphasizing political policies over theological doctrines, it will further fragment American Christianity, dividing churches and communities based upon their political leanings — which can now be publicly proclaimed.

The very idea of Jesus abiding by these so-called religious liberties is absurd, so it’s surprising that Christians would support something so anti-Christ.

John 13:34 states: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Is religious liberty the great hope that’s meant to reflect the glory of God? Will it in any way further the redeeming message of Jesus and exude his love for humanity? Do people look at this executive order and interpret is as being a Christian act of love and kindness?

The resounding answer is no, and instead of being an attractive example of Jesus’ love, most see it as just another attempt by Christians to gain wealth, privilege, and political clout.

In their aggressive campaign to consolidate worldly control and government influence, American Christendom has further distanced itself from the very God it claims to worship.

Followers of Christ must decide whether to trust in God and the power of the Holy Spirit, or whether to trust in the power of a president, allowing Christianity to further devolve into a civic religion that’s legislatively forced upon others to serve the agendas of political parties.

Because if the American church continues to shift toward a political arm that carries out the will of a power-hungry president, it will be seen by the world — even more than it already is — as a corrupted entity obsessed with selfish desires.

In a society that desperately needs to hear about the good news of Jesus, the last thing churches need is federal permission to evangelize on behalf of political candidates. God help us.

Stephen Mattson is a writer who currently resides in the Twin Cities, Minn. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.

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