John Stonestreet on Defining and Defending Religious Freedom

We’ve not seen in the United States, at least in recent memory, so many efforts to force Christians to act in ways that violate their consciences. Almost always, these demands are made in the name of sexual freedom—whether we’re talking about nuns being forced to provide contraception, bakers and florists having to participate in gay weddings, or adoption agencies being forced to place kids with same-sex couples.

What makes these stories even more discouraging is how many Americans—especially Christians—don’t seem to understand our first freedom or even care all that much about it. According to a new survey by Barna, the number of Americans who say that religious freedom means “being able to believe and practice the core commitments and values of your faith” is still a majority, but it’s falling; down 14 percent since 2012.

Even more troubling, pastors seem to be losing interest in the issue. Barna reports that just five years ago, a strong majority of Protestant clergy said they were “very concerned” that religious freedom would become more restricted. In the latest survey, that number fell to a paltry 34 percent.

Barna editor-in-chief, Roxanne Stone says it’s easy to stop caring “when we feel protected by those currently in power.” But in doing so, Christians risk becoming just “another tribal group” jockeying for special favors from Washington. If we want to keep our freedoms after a new president is in the White House, we have to learn to “make the case for religious liberty as a positive social value for all people.” In other words, we have to be able to argue for this freedom as if it’s more than a retreat strategy.

This is, of course, a real challenge in a culture where increasing numbers of people think religion should be kept private, and sexual preferences should be made public. Somehow, we must make the case that religious liberty is not only a good worth preserving, but that it’s essential to a free society.

You might have heard of “S.L.E.D.” It’s an acronym which stands for “Size, Level of development, Environment, and Degree of dependency.” It makes the argument for unborn life simple and focused, even when things get emotional. It’s memorable and reusable.

For a long time now, I’ve wished there were a “S.L.E.D.” for religious freedom—something to help us remember the arguments and make the case in a convincing way. Well, my colleague Shane Morris has just came up with one: “F.R.E.E.” Free is an acronym that can walk you through an intelligent conversation about religious liberty.

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Source: Christian Headlines