Cities Keep Testing Limits of Freedom of Religion
Soul winners are having to resort to court to protect their right to witness. Cities are the most common offenders. A church in Gilbert, Arizona recently won the right to post temporary signs directing people to their services. Now another small city in Arkansas is attempting to limit door-to-door witnessing by requiring a permit and pay a fee. The Literature Evangelism Program of the Adventist Ouachita Hills College were told by the city of White Hall that they would need a permit for a planned outreach to residents.
The attorney for the Adventist Conference attempted to contact White Hall city attorney who refused to return phone calls. He then filed suit against the city. A similar suit had to be filed recently against the city of Alabaster, Alabama before they would reconsider their ordinance.
These are in addition to a more publicized case against the city of Dearborn, Michigan who evicted street evangelists from an Arab festival. It took several levels of appeal to establish the soul winners right to freely exercise their religious freedom.
These cases may seem small matters, but are an attempt by government officials to circumvent a very basic U.S. Constitutional right: freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The framers of the Constitution had just fought a costly war over these very issues. These were some of the first items in the Bill of Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The ultimate goal of the godless forces in our government is to restrict freedom of religion down to just freedom of worship. The difference is subtle, but ominous. Most totalitarian nations list freedom of worship in their constitutions but control where it happens. In China, it is only inside state approved churches. In Russia it is primarily limited to the official Russian Orthodox churches.
This limits "religious freedom" strictly to inside the church buildings. No street witnessing or attempt to "proselytize" is allowed. Note that soul winning and "proselytizing" are synonymous.
Legally, in America we are still free to witness our faith, but dark forces are making it ever harder. Young people are inoculated with evolution and humanism in our universities and even grade schools. Religion is increasingly do-it-yourself, picking and choosing from many beliefs to construct a personal world view. Respect for the Bible is diminished by the chaos of versions and disparagement of the preserved version. The concept of absolute truth is pretty much dead making the world ripe for the one-world religion of the end times.
Sowing the gospel today finds it landing more often on stony ground, but that should not discourage us from sowing. Only by spreading the word widely will we possibly reach the fertile ground —hearts that are ready for the truth. There are many ways today to sow the seed, but the little gospel tract with an engaging story is still tops when it comes to convenience and durability.