Religious freedom is the foundation of America. It’s why Christians came here in the first place. Many of the original Pilgrims wanted to practice their faith apart from the Church of England, which as the official state denomination, had been persecutory of “non-official” Christian denominations.
They provided the vision for the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
What was happening here? In 1789, when the Bill of Rights was written, “religion” meant a single denomination or system of worship. Thus, in clear, understandable terms, Congress prohibited itself from establishing a national denomination (such as Congregationalist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker, etc.).
Our Founding Fathers did not want to be like England, which had an official state church called the Church of England with the King as its head. So they prohibited themselves from promoting one Christian sect or denomination above another, i.e. “no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Yet beyond this narrow exclusion of an official Christian denomination of the United States, our founding fathers clearly wanted Christian values and religious freedom — including religious freedom within the federal, state and local governments — to be permitted, protected, and respected.
Fast forward to 2009 and California. For decades, pastors have been coming to city council meetings in Lodi, just north of Stockton, to “give the invocation.” Most pastors have included “in Jesus’ name” in their prayers.
When an atheist group complained, the Lodi City Attorney told pastors not to pray in Jesus’ name anymore. You can imagine the firestorm this has caused between atheists and Christians.
Guess what — Jesus’ name is OK at government meetings. Even the U.S. Supreme Court says so!
ACTION: The Lodi City Council will hold a special hearing and vote Wednesday, Sept. 30. For the sake of Jesus, religious freedom, and our U.S. Constitution, please email all five city council members and attend the city council meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m.