Alabama pastor: We must fight for religious liberty in the US and around the world
(Above: Dan Darlin of the ERLC interviews David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills)
In an interview this week with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, Birmingham, Alabama pastor and New York Times bestselling author David Platt spoke passionately about the issue of Christian persecution, both in the United States and around the world.
“As followers of Christ, we’ve got brothers and sisters who face persecution who don’t have religious liberty,” explained Platt. “Sometimes it’s governmental persecution — so it’s meeting in underground settings where they’re meeting in secret and if they’re caught meeting they could be thrown in a prison, they could lose land, they could lose their lives in some settings… There’s also more of a social persecution that could be tribal or family. There are many parts of the world that for someone to come to Christ means their family will try to hurt them, disown them, or even kill them. So these are realities that our brothers and sisters face around the world on a daily basis that we need to be praying for, identifying with, and as people who do have a great measure of liberty — and obviously that’s being put in question in many ways even in our culture now — but to realize what a treasure this is and to use the resources God has given us to try to promote that in different places so that there is this free marketplace of ideas where we’re able to talk about who God is and what it means to follow Him. And so, we want to fight for that here and fight for that around the world…”
According to the ERLC, “Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of at least 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith.”
And in the United States, many Christians believe religious liberty is under assault in more subtle ways.
In 2011, the Obama Administration began requiring companies to provide contraceptives to their employees at no cost under their ObamaCare-compliant health insurance plans.
Hobby Lobby, which has 18 Alabama locations, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite-owned furniture manufacturer, challenged the requirement in court, contending that no employer should be forced by the government to do something that goes against their religious beliefs.
In one of the most contentious cases in recent memory, the United States Supreme Court ruled in June that the government cannot force “closely held” companies to provide birth control or abortifacients to their employees if they object to the requirement on religious grounds.
In the 5-4 ruling, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. wrote for the majority that “Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.”
But although the Hobby Lobby decision was widely hailed as a victory for religious liberty — however slim it was — there will undoubtedly be many more legal challenges to America’s “first freedom” in the years to come.
With that in mind, Dan Darlin of the ERLC asked Platt if he believes this generation of Americans is ready to stand up for their faith.
“I hope so,” he said. “This is where cultural Christianity doesn’t stand — in the middle of persecution. When there becomes a clear dividing line, that’s good in the sense that it brings us to realize the cost of following Christ… The more we become like Christ, the more the world around us — regardless of what country or culture we’re in — will respond to us the way the world responded to Christ, and the world crucified Christ. So it will not get easier for us the more we become like Christ, the more we proclaim Christ. It will always get harder for us in this world in that sense.”