The litmus test for all human rights
Freedom of religion has has always been the hallmark of our American way of life. Our Founding Fathers migrated to the shores of the New World primarily to seek religious freedom, fleeing as they where the religious persecution they suffered in England. The Founding Fathers were seeking the freedom to live according a conscience based on their religious beliefs, and to live according to the moral and spiritual order based on a foundation of adherence to God’s Word.
Their right to religious liberty was a litmus test for all human rights. Religious rights were to become the very foundation for all the rights and freedoms we have enjoyed in the United States, and for which we’ve been known throughout the world. When religious rights are protected, prosperity, participation in cultural, and peaceful coexistence for all is guaranteed. When religious rights are protected, the Church is free to be involved in the social and political life of the nation. But when religious rights are threatened, all other rights become vulnerable.
Central to religious freedom is the freedom to follow one’s conscience. When religious freedom is reduced to freedom of worship, and religious leaders are expected to remain silent in the face of national debate, basic religious freedom is threatened. The government is more than happy to welcome the social and charitable aid of the Church, and happy that we help the homeless, feed the hungry, and operate hospitals that meet the needs of society. Yet the government would limit the religious freedom of our faithful to operate these very institutions according to a moral and religious conscience that has been formed within the life of the Church, and based on an adherence to the moral teaches of historic, biblical Christianity.
When the government forces court clerks and other civil servants to sign legal documents authorizing same sex marriages, or doctors to make referrals for abortions, and pharmacists to sell abortifacients, religious freedom is compromised.
Certainly there are far more violent persecutions of Christians in other countries, such as the ongoing massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and the terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigeria, but when our government would dismiss Christian clergy from the sphere of public debate, and relegate religious freedom to nothing more than private belief, we will have seen the beginning of the end of freedom of religion.
Individual Christians who oppose laws that violate their consciences, and who are therefore marginalized by a government that would limit religious freedom to freedom of worship, have no religious freedom. That said, I am in no way suggesting freedom of conscience should be denied those who do not agree with me, or with my Church’s stand on moral issues. Protection for same-sex unions, in my opinion, is between them and the government. However, to call such contractual relationships marriage, and to demand State employees who disagree because of their religious views with such contractual relationships act as agents of the State, goes against religious freedom, and must be resisted.
In this age of toleration and inclusion, we must ask ourselves if, in struggling to be inclusive and tolerant, we instead avoid truly caring for the spiritual and moral wellbeing of another person. If we truly love others, we must will the good of the other.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday June 25, 2019 / June 12, 2019
2nd Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. Food with Oil
Venerable Onuphrius the Great (400).
Venerable Peter of Mt. Athos (734).
Opening of the relics (1650) of St. Anna of Kashin (1338).
Venerable Arsenius, abbot of Konevits (1447).
Venerable Onuphrius, abbot of Malsk (Pskov) (1492).
Venerables Bassian and Jonah, monks, of Petroma (Solovki) (1561).
Venerables Onuphrius and Auxentius, monks, of Vologda (1521).
Venerable Stephen of Komel, abbot of Ozersk Monastery, Vologda (1542).
Venerables John, Andrew, Heraclemon, and Theophilus, hermits of Egypt (4th c.).
St. John the Soldier of Egypt (6th-7th c.).
Venerable Onuphrius, abbot of Katrom Monastery (Vologda) (16th c.).
St. Julian of Dagouta at Constantinople (Greek).
New Martyrs Onuphrius, bishop (1938), and with him: Anthony, Barsanuphius and Joseph (1937), and bishop Alexander Kharkovsky.
St. Olympius, bishop and confessor who suffered in Thrace (4th c.).
St. Timothy the Hermit of Egypt (4th c.).
St. Cunera, virgin-martyr of Rhenen (451) (Neth.).
Venerable John (Tornike) of Mt. Athos (998) (Georgia).
Finding of the relics (1672) of St. John of Moscow, fool-for-Christ (1589).
Synaxis of All Saints of St. Onuphrius Monastery at Jablechna (Poland).
Miracle-working icons of the Theotokos (14th c.) and St. Onuphrius (14th c.) at St. Onuphrius Monastery (Poland).
The Scripture Readings
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
David Celebrates the Same Truth
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Abraham Justified Before Circumcision
9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while stilluncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.