Sunday, March 22, 2015
Easy to be soft
The narrative genealogy I have been working on for the past few months is called Faith of our Fathers. My ancestors were Baptist going all the way back to the 1600s and their religious beliefs had a major impact on their history. It's why they left England and traveled to the unknown colonies at the first opportunity. And when Baptists were not welcome in most of the original 13 colonies, they headed west in search of religious freedom.
"I thank you, gentlemen of the grand jury, for the honor you have done me. While I was wicked and injurious, you took no notice of me, but since I have altered my course of life and endeavored to reform my neighbors, you concern yourselves much about me. I shall take the spoiling of my goods joyfully.”
A crowd gathered outside the jail, and he preached through the bars. And when he decided to move to Kentucky for more freedom, hundreds followed him.
As time passed, and religious freedom was guaranteed by the constitution, the Baptist church grew into one of the largest denominations in the country. I have become soft. I expect religious liberty.
But certainly that is not true everywhere. Twenty Coptic Christians were beheaded last month in Libya. More than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria to avoid "sinful" education.We've become accustomed to such atrocities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, much the way we've become soft about expecting our own religious freedom in this country.
I'm a Methodist now -- I have the freedom to choose -- and today my minister read a letter encouraging us to speak out about the persecution of Christians. She also encouraged us to pray about the problem, but she said we need to pray humbly. All of us are guilty of having prejudices and misconceptions about others' religious beliefs. We want religious freedom but only for the "right" religions.
So I will pray for gratitude for the freedoms I have, tolerance for beliefs I don't like, justice for the oppressed and forgiveness for the oppressors.
Posted by Sue Merrell at 6:52 PM