Martin Luther is credited with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation based upon his criticism of the Roman Catholic teachings that he knew to be contrary to Scripture. True or not, the denominations that followed were persecuted by both the Catholic Church and by earlier denominations. Religion had gone from one oppressor, to many oppressors. As new understanding of the Word of God developed, believers were forced to flee to other countries. Eventually, nearly every country in Europe and Western Asia had its own official government sanctioned church. If you lived in Germany, you were to be a Lutheran. If you lived in England, you were to be Anglican. Switzerland had the Reformed Church. Greece and Russia had orthodox churches. The American Colonies were a continuation of governments which were heavily influenced by a specific religious group. In fact, Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams as a Congregationalist state because of intolerance in other states. The stage was set.
When the colonies decided they needed to unite together to defend themselves against European domination, they agreed upon a Constitution. But to insure that the new government did not infringe upon an individual's or a state's rights, they added the first ten amendments called the Bill of Rights. Most important to them, and therefore the First Amendment, they agreed that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Today, we have freedom of religion, but it was not because of the First Amendment. The colonies did not want the federal government interfering with a state's right to have the religion of their choice. The individual colonies, now states, continued to favor a specific religion. Eventually, each individual state included the spirit of the first amendment in its own constitution. Today, no state can establish a religion or prohibit citizens from worshiping as they choose.
Unfortunately, the First Amendment has become so grossly misinterpreted, that it is generally perceived as demanding the separation of church and state. This unfortunate interpretation has led federal, state, and local governments to restrict religious materials and religious activities on public land, including in schools. Many in our nation believe it prohibits religious influence in political affairs. For most religions, this is not a problem. But Christians are supposed to be "light to the world" and "salt" as well. Light, of course refers to revealing the truth, and salt refers to preventing corruption. When the Church is prevented from influencing government, truth becomes relative, and corruption is inevitable. As a result, evolution is taught in our schools as fact, and creationism if forbidden. Today, there are laws that allow the slaughter of unborn human beings. States have begun using gambling as a source of revenue. Many states have done away with capital punishment. Many are trying to pass laws prohibiting the private ownership of firearms. And perhaps the worst offense to our Constitution is a ground-swell of support for the United States to forfeit its sovereignty by joining "the New World Order."
The good news is, Jesus is coming back, and based upon how similar society is to that of Noah's day, I believe it isn't very far off. Tomorrow, I will address how the Church is to respond to the many abuses of our government. Lord willing! Until then, keep telling people about Jesus.