If you are a part of the Southern Baptist Convention or follow it closely you know that the past few months have been plagued with disunity and at times even hostility. While some of these issues have been resolved, there are still some questions that need to be answered. One of the most central and important questions that have been asked concerns Religious Liberty.
The reason this topic is important is due to the controversy that surrounds it. While all religions officially have the right, is it fair for us as Christians to allow the courts to infringe upon this right against Muslims? Since we understand the Islamic faith to be contrary to the Gospel of Grace is it even right for Christians to protect their right? Ultimately, the question becomes is Religious Liberty Biblical?
There has been a debate as to whether Christians are obligated to either support the right of Muslims to build Mosque or whether Christians are called to oppose what we view as a false religious system. While both sides stand at opposite sides of this battle, we need to be reminded that there is no reason to destroy fellowship between a brother or sister over this issue.
What we need to do is seek conversation and understanding between those who disagree with us. With this being said I would contend to you that it is not only our responsibility to advocate for religious liberty for all, but it is also a Biblical mandate.
There are three primary passages of scripture that justify the necessity for Religious Liberty and they are Mark 12:31, Romans 1:14-17, and Romans 13:1-10. So that we fulfill the next passage for this stance, Romans 1:14-17 states “I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish.So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” (CSB).
We do not get to pick and choose people groups that deserve to hear the Gospel. We cannot hope to share the Gospel with someone that we are actively telling they are second-class citizens who do not deserve the same rights we enjoy and allow others to enjoy. Our obligation to share the Gospel with all people comes before our fear or bias towards Muslims.
Romans 13:1-10 tells us:
“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
“Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks.
“Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
“The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” (CSB).
The first amendment our founding Fathers established 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 we truly desire Biblical Purity then we have to respect the first amendment and honor the law of the land which decrees that the government cannot oppose nor support any one religion. Paul ties in the command to love your neighbor because in it is the fulfillment of the Law and to follow the law is an example of loving our neighbor and thus fulfilling the law of Scripture.
And Mark 12:31 states, “The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (CSB). When we oppose the building of Mosque but have idly sat on the sidelines over the building of Jewish Synagogues, Hindu Temples, or even Kingdom Halls we are essentially telling Muslims that they are not as worthy of American rights as these other citizens. What Christians need to remember is that Muslims are not our enemy, we have one enemy.
Muslims are not the predator, they are the prey to the true predator. Our enemy is “prowling like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 CSB). Muslims are just as blinded and ensnared by the enemy as we would be without the grace of God that saved us. We must not let our bias against the religion of Islam stop us from showing them the love we show all those who are of different religions.
Christians, we must understand that if we want to enjoy the religious liberty that we have enjoyed since the founding of this country then we must allow all religions to enjoy this freedom. It’s either Religious Liberty for All or Religious Liberty for none. If we are to be justified in our opposition of Religious Liberty for one Religious Group then we must be willing to lay our rights aside as well. However, if we truly want this liberty and desire to hold Biblical purity then we must not condone the beliefs of these religions, but we must support their right to build their places of Worship here in the United States.