FIRST PRINCIPLES: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:26-27
So Jesus said …, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:15-16
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19
For freedom Christ has set us free. – Galatians 5:1
Ideas and viewpoints informed by the sacred contribute enormously to the improvement of society (e.g., the abolition of slavery). The unalienable liberty of religious conscience and expression includes the freedom to believe and hold such ideas as a matter of conscience, as well as to manifest such conscience.
Human beings hold inherent dignity because God created us in His image, including the capacity to exercise free will and to reason. Because humans possess inherent dignity, government authorities must respect it. The unalienable liberty of religious conscience and expression arise out of this inherent dignity; such liberty enables the Created to freely form a sentient personal relationship with his or her Creator, know His truth and, as a matter of conscience, share it with others.
For ideas and viewpoints informed by the sacred to enter the marketplace of ideas, individuals must be free to not just to believe and hold them as a matter of conscience, but also to manifest such conscience, including through speech and other expression. Preserving the unalienable liberty of religious conscience and freedom of expression is, therefore, essential to ensure that citizens can introduce such ideas and viewpoints into the marketplace of ideas. It also ensures that these ideas, informed by the sacred, can continue to contribute to the improvement of society.
Finally this unalienable liberty protects against government action excluding citizens from participating in civil society based on the viewpoint or religious conscience held by the citizen.
The Church: An amorphous concept that conjures up images in the public mind ranging from white buildings with steeples to tyrannical theocracies. Yet the true Church stands in stark contrast to many of the images promoted by the world. The Church, as God designed, holds the esteemed position of prophet, servant, and sanctuary. God intended for His Church to make disciples, uphold truth, care for the widows, orphans, and infirm, and provide refuge for the oppressed.
As Jesus Christ’s representative on earth, the Church should be a beacon of light that intentionally and sacrificially serves its community. It should speak truth and bring hope to the dire situations facing its neighbors. It should lay down its life to see God glorified and His Kingdom expanded. The Church should be defined by John 17, Romans 12, and Acts 2.
The Church, unified, loving and guided by the Holy Spirit, transforms communities. Citizen statesmen, make no mistake, the Church is not a building or the pastorate; it is comprised of each person who proclaims Christ as Lord.
The following resources are provided for informational use only and are not necessarily endorsed by the Great Lakes Justice Center. They should always be examined against Scripture, our primary resource. If you would like to add resources to this list, please contact us.
Articles, Books, & Journals
- “First Amendment: An Overview“, Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School
- “Speech Overview“, Rodney A. Smolla, First Amendment Center
- “A Model of Christian Charity“, Governor John Winthrop
- Being the Body, Charles Colson
- Building up one Another, Gene Getz
- Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, Timothy Keller
- The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal, Charles Swindoll
- City of God, St. Augustine
- Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- “Entrepreneurship & Youth: The Critical Role of the Christian Community in Development”, Ruth Entwistle
- In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity, R.R. Reno
- “The Christian Theologian’s Reading List: 99 Important Books”
- The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out, Mark Driscoll
- When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself, Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
- The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen
Organizations, Events & Ministries
- The Bill of Rights Institute
- The Cato Institute
- The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
- All About God
- Apologetics Press
- Apologetics Resource Center
- C.S. Lewis Institute
- C.S. Society
- Evangelism Explosion International
- Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity
- Girl’s Ministries
- International Justice Mission
- Investigating Faith
- Living Waters
- Ministry Idea Exchange
- The Navigators
- Open Church
- Youth Ministry 101
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY PUBLICATIONS