The Fourth of July can mean family fun, including food and fireworks, but the more I study history, political science, and theology, the less comfortable I am with the events of July 4, 1776.
Now, do not get me wrong, I am thankful for such things as the religious freedom with which God continues to bless us, and I pray regularly for our country, both its leaders and its citizens (1 Timothy 2:1-4). However, as Romans 13:1-13, makes clear, and as some Lutheran pastors at the time preached, there is something sinful both about throwing off a God-given government and about claiming that its replacement derives its authority and power, not from God, but from the consent of the governed.
Nevertheless, as God, from the evil of the man and the woman’s sinful rebellion, worked the good of His Son Jesus Christ’s redemption from sin, God also, from the evil of the Colonies’ rebellion, has worked some good over the past 242 years, such as our free exercise of religion.
That freedom of religion is increasingly under attack. This past week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding President Trump’s travel ban brought allegations of a Supreme Court religious double standard: that Christianity is protected, as in the recent case of a Colorado baker, while Islam is not, as in the case of the travel ban. Never mind, apparently, that the Colorado case was very narrowly construed and that the travel ban case had more to do with executive power than what may or may not have been the basis for the ban. Also never mind, apparently, that the writings of the founding fathers suggest that the First Amendment was not intended to tolerate all non-Christian religions without exception (such as Islam) but to prevent the government from endorsing one so-called Christian religion over another (as was done in England).
Whether or not President Trump successfully replaces the now-retiring Justice Kennedy with a true conservative, God, from whatever evil religious persecution might come—suffering and even death—ultimately will work, for repentant believers in Jesus, His goods of comfort and eternal peace.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.