by Quin Hillyer at PJ Media;
In the first reading from this week’s Revised Common Lectionary, the Roman-backed authorities seize, beat, and imprison the evangelist Paul and his friend Silas merely for preaching and practicing their religion in the public square. (Their tormentors explain that “they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.”)
The timing of the reading is right for a week in which the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported, in its annual assessment, that religious freedom has not just decreased around the world in the past year, but “has been under serious and sustained assault.” In many areas, said commission chairman Robert George, “religious freedom conditions… have spiraled downward.”….
In the Judeo-Christian, Anglo-American tradition, religious liberty is, historically and in terms of importance, our “first freedom.” When Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus and others debated “the freedom of a Christian” during the Reformation era, the various permutations of that freedom, and their consequences, took on world-altering significance, not just in ecclesial realms, but in civic realms as well. And going back to the Magna Carta in 1215, various forms of religious liberty were the rights upon which all other British/American rights were based and built…..
For the whole column, read here. The importance of religious liberty cannot be overstated….