What is your liberty worth?
For more than a hundred years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has published the nation’s foremost magazine dedicated to religious freedom. Why? Because our liberty is a gift of God, Who seeks a relationship based on love, not coercion, manipulation or force.
Every year in January, the church takes up an offering to fund its religious liberty ministry, including providing Liberty magazine to many thousands of “thought leaders” throughout the nation. These funds also provide lawyers for many church members who lose their jobs because they will not work on Sabbath.
Our First Amendment religious freedoms have been challenged seriously and often for many years. I thank God for the religious freedoms we still enjoy. In recent months, another part of the First Amendment — free speech — has been redefined by the Supreme Court and challenged on the streets. Corporations now have “free speech” rights to spend as much as they please influencing elections, while college students and military veterans are pepper sprayed and beaten for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.
As I watched the YouTube video of U.C. Davis students sitting peacefully as campus police walked up and pepper sprayed them (www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmJmmnMkuEM), I thought of my own daughter Zoey, who enrolled at Pacific Union College this fall as a freshman. Those kids could have been your kids or mine. Many readers probably don’t agree with the message the kids were trying to express. I often disagree with my teenagers — it seems to go with the territory. But I still love my kids, and I don’t want to see their rights denied, or anyone’s kids beaten or hauled off to jail for peaceful political expression.
One thing is sure: these kids are paying a price for their freedoms. So, the question remains: what is our liberty worth? Are we willing to pay for the privilege of retaining our freedoms of religion, assembly and speech? Are you willing to support church ministries that are fighting to preserve liberty of conscience for all peaceful people of faith?
Freedom is not free; it never has been. It costs nothing to lose it, but everything to preserve it. Remember that when your church collects the offering for religious liberty.