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Religious Liberty - Rick Hayes - A Reminder

April 10, 2019
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Response to the Executive Order on Religious Liberty

Signed on May 4, 2017

The constant battle between the world and The Word of God will not be solved in one societal event or one governmental action.  It is a battle that will wage until the final horn, the triumphant sound that heralds the returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.  And until then the battle rages and the forces of Satan will attack and attempt to destroy any and all Christian attempts to be salt and light in a corrupt and darkened world.  In our lives we will constantly see the ebb and flow of a struggle between the Prince of Light and the Power of Darkness.  Yet, we serve faithfully in our lives because of the assurance given to us by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word of God that The Throne of God will not be overthrown.  And, from time to time, we are emboldened and encouraged by societal or governmental events.

One such event is the Executive Order signed on May 4, 2017 and coinciding with the National Day of Prayer.  This Executive Order loosens the noose around the neck of churches that would be tightened when politically expedient to an administration or advantageous to a atheistic person or organization.   The Johnson Amendment of 1954 was added as a provision in the U.S. Tax code to prohibit all non- profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Unfortunately, the gray area was so large it discouraged and complexed so many pastors as to what could and could not be said.  When a candidate or elected official said anything contrary to scripture, ministers were unsure of how to address it in the public square or the church pulpit because of the ambiguity of the enforcement of the amendment to the tax law in 1954.  The most recent Executive Order addresses that issue.

The Executive Order issued on May 4, 2017 includes three major components.  First, it states that "it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty".  This is a welcomed stance for the faithful, God centered preachers of our nation.  While we must not allow this freedom to be unchecked in our preaching of God's Word, we must in accordance to the scripture proclaim God's Word "in Spirit and in truth".  Second, it asks the IRS to "exercise maxim enforcement of discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment" which would prohibit religious leaders from speaking about politics or candidates.  As pastors we must address issues of sinfulness, disobedience to God, and expound the teachings of Scripture without fear of penalty.  Our only fear should be in failing the high call of preaching God's Word in its entirety.  We must freely be allowed to address the issues which directly affect the soul of our nation and the hearts of the people.  Third, the Executive Order "allows for objection or dissension on religious grounds". This is a freedom to voice our dissent or exercise our Biblical convictions without penalty to the church or the individuals of the church. 

In conclusion, we as the Church have received a reprieve if you will.  The hand of God has moved and presents us an opportunity to preach the Word of God without the cumbersome threat of political correctness.  While many of us may feel we have never been bound or limited by this law, many have.  It may not have impacted the churches as much as it impacted our schools and workplaces.  Nevertheless, let us rise up with strength and boldness to share our faith in Jesus Christ.  Let us live and demonstrate our faith and convictions in love and with the pure motive of being ambassadors for Christ.  Let us exercise the freedoms we have in the knowledge that by a stroke of a pen or the words of a ruling, our freedoms will be threatened again. 

Richard Hayes


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