First Amendment Freedom of Religion Protects More than Worship


Prof. William Wagner

WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU

The freedom of religion preserved in the First Amendment protects more than your freedom to worship. It protects the free exercise of your religious conscience. 

When Someone Gives Their Life to Jesus

When someone gives their life to Jesus, it changes the purpose of their life and the way they live it. It encompasses a whole new way of thinking; thinking in accordance to what the Scriptures teach. For a follower of Jesus, the First Amendment certainly allows them to worship freely on Sunday. But the religious life of a Christian person includes more than Sunday worship. It is their identity. It  therefore influences every waking and sleeping hour of their entire week. Its higher purpose guides them as they raise their children, run their business, or go to school. It is a way of life. Indeed, Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life.

Fighting on the frontlines for freedom and family values, Salt & Light Global promotes and protects the free exercise of religious conscience.  For example, our justice center recently went to the US Supreme Court. There we represented persecuted Christian business owners standing in support of the Christian Cake baker similarly attacked by Colorado’s civil rights commission.

Religious Animus

Deeply seeded religious animus led to the commission characterizing the Christian baker’s religious conscience as discrimination.  The Court agreed with our legal arguments. A majority rebuked the Colorado commission, and ruled for the Christian baker. No surprise here — given the protection for religious conscience expressly provided for in the First Amendment. 

Instead of bringing its conduct back into compliance with the constitution, the commission instead just brought another crippling enforcement action against the baker.  Another unelected leftist commission iinfringing on constitutionally protected liberty, this time even after a Supreme Court ruling. This abuse of power undermines good governance under the rule of law.  It is also short-sited.

The Consequences of Attacking Religious Conscience

Indeed, those attacking religious conscience ought to reconsider their strategy.  Historically, wherever authorities ignore or persecute Christian conscience, tyranny emerges. Tyranny of the mass killing, rape and plunder kind.  On the other hand, wherever government looks to Christian ideals and protects Christian conscience, freedom flourishes.

In one of the greatest speeches ever delivered, Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Since he uttered these words the exercise religious conscience continues to inspire people and societies to act better. That is why you find the product of religious values and convictions at food banks, homeless shelters, adoption agencies, and yes even bakeries. And that is why the constitution protects not just worship, but also the free exercise of your religious conscience.


About the Author

Prof. William Wagner
WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU
Professor Wagner holds the WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at Spring Arbor University. He has a special interest in building and preserving environments where Christians may share the Good News of Jesus, free from persecution and oppression.

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