Voting to Save Your Rights

Vital Sign Religious Freedom
Can we protect the liberties and rights of all Americans for generations to come?

PRAY FIRST for America’s leaders and judges to act righteously and seek to guarantee and protect the rights afforded in our nation’s founding documents.

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.2 Peter 2:19

For over two centuries, Americans have enjoyed the liberties afforded them as enshrined within the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. In recent years, as the federal government passes new regulations or vies for greater control, are Americans taking them for granted?

What are your rights?

Among the provisions of the Bill of Rights are freedom of speech, religious liberty, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, the right to redress grievances, the right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to due process, and freedom from self-incrimination, the right to a speedy trial or to a jury trial, and freedom from cruel punishment.

Thomas Jefferson said, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” The Bill of Rights was intended to limit government and give power and liberty to the individual.

The ongoing erosion of free speech.

For years, social media companies have restricted the content allowed on their sites. Often, this is to protect users from potentially harmful content, like violence, sexual content, politically inflammatory statements, terror threats, or other dangerous content. Some users are prohibited from using those platforms due to political reasons and feel that they are censored.

The ACLU of New Jersey said, “Blocking users or deleting comments because they express critical opinions offends the Constitution and principles of transparency.” In October 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. They ruled that social media companies may have violated First Amendment protection when they aggressively removed content labeled as disinformation or misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What about our Right to Bear Arms?

While there is a decades-long ongoing debate about gun control, just over a month ago, a federal district court judge refused to freeze an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts during the pendency of a case. He has called the law constitutional.

In Pennsylvania, an appeals court ruled that the state cannot bar 18-to-20-year-olds from carrying guns in public. Even though they are still considered minors, they have the same rights under the Second Amendment as any other citizen.

Last fall, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a case in which a person subject to domestic violence protection was prohibited from having guns. Many states have laws on this or have the matter under consideration, and a ruling from the high court will probably come in June.

Church vs. State

Religious freedom is often mistakenly viewed as separating church and state. It prohibits the government from establishing or favoring a religion or interfering with the free exercise of religion. However, religious freedom is not absolute and is often subject to legal disputes and social conflicts.

Some of the challenges to religious freedom include the display of religious symbols in public spaces, the accommodation of religious practices in workplaces, schools, prisons, and the military, the provision of health care and social services that may conflict with religious beliefs, the protection of religious minorities and immigrants from discrimination and violence, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religious gatherings.

Religious freedom in America is constantly evolving and contested, as different groups and individuals take their needs or agendas before courts, lawmakers or voters.

Our votes can protect our rights.

The courts continue to face lawsuits over bills and regulations that could impact the rights of American citizens. Simultaneously, Congress is regularly proposing and voting on bills the can and will reshape the future of the nation. The Bill of Rights seems like it will remain in tension for years to come. As citizens, it is your responsibility to take part in the process of voting for elected officials who will seek to protect the liberties encoded in the Constitution, either by passing laws or appointing judges who rule on them.

Many, both conservative and liberal, believe that America is in danger of being lost to the dustbin of history. As voter turnout struggles, there is consensus that now is the time for to vote to protect America’s rights and liberties.

The Christian community is not spared from low voting numbers. In November, The Presidential Prayer Team asked its members to evaluate why Christians don’t vote. More than 1 in 5 said they believed Christians didn’t vote because they were apathetic, showing no particular interest in civic issues. As citizens of the kingdom of God, they felt no compunction to participate in their earthly citizenship roles.

In September 1797, Benjamin Franklin was asked if the American Constitution established a republic or monarchy. “A republic if you can keep it,” he responded. The rights afforded to America’s people would take a concerted effort to maintain if the nation was to survive.

HOW THEN SHOULD WE PRAY:

— Pray for your own life to reflect the freedoms you have in Christ by the way you engage with others. So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
— Pray for courage to stand for righteousness and to defend our liberties. The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25).

CONSIDER THESE ITEMS FOR PRAYER:

  • Pray for Congress to support individual freedom.
  • Pray for those in the medical field who are being challenged withstanding by their faith or submitting to the demands of culture.
  • Pray for members of the judiciary who are called upon to rule on the rights granted under the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
  • Pray for Christians who struggle with apathy about civic matters and on policies that protect their rights and liberties.

Sources: Library of Congress, US News & World Report, National Archives, ACLU, Find Law, Cal Poly, The Hill, Newsmax, Fox News, Cato Institute, Oyez, New York Post, Reuters, IRRC, Bloomberg Law, WHYY, Brennan Center, Education Week, Reno Gazette-Journal, University of Notre Dame Law School

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