by Rick Pidcock
Have you ever heard somebody say, “We don’t need freedom OF religion! We need freedom FROM religion!”
Organizations all over this nation have been formed either to enforce or to fight this idea. One such organization is the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The FFRF is a group of 12,000 members and supporters that exists “to promote freethought and defend the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.” Since 1978, it has been involved with many legal battles including the following:
Winning the first federal lawsuit challenging direct funding by the government of a faith-based agency.
Overturning a state Good Friday holiday.
Removing Ten Commandments monuments and crosses from public land.
Ended a 122-year abuse of commencement prayers at a Top Ten University.
The homepage for this organization says, “Freedom depends upon free thinkers.”
As a commited Christian whose entire life is based on the gospel, my initial reaction to such statements is to think, “What a bunch of crazy liberals!” And then the more I think about the condition that they are in, I begin to think, “How sad that somebody would miss out on the joy of knowing and worshiping their glorious Creator.”
But as I dig deeper into these statements and really evaluate them in light of the gospel, I find it amazing as to how right these people actually are.
In 1891, Samuel Porter Putnam said,
“The last superstition of the human mind is the superstition that religion in itself is a good thing, though it might be free from dogma. I believe, however, that the religious feeling, as feeling, is wrong, and the civilized man will have nothing to do with it. . . . [When the] shadow of religion disappeared forever . . . I felt that I was free from a disease.”
So let me ask you this. Is religion in itself a good thing? Or Is religion a disease?
Consider the words of Christ in Matthew 23:27-28
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Religion does the same thing for us as it did for the scribes and Pharisees. On the outside, religious people often look good. They go to church, try to follow the ten commandments, and sometimes are able to follow the golden rule. But the reason that they do these things is to impress God and their fellow mankind with how good they are. And because such self-reliance and pride is a sin, they reveal themselves for who they really are, hypocrites and lawless.
I think atheists have more in common with Christ than they would dare to admit. Every atheist sees the same thing that Christ saw–namely, the vanity of religion. Religion does nothing to impress God. And it does nothing but divide humanity.
So who are the religious? The fact is that we are all religious. Even the atheist is by nature religious. Our gods are merely the object or focus of our worship. And worship is simply living in a way as to glorify that god to be of supreme value.
Most politicians worship the religion of power by living in such a way that values power above all.
Most celebrities worship the religion of fame and fortune by living in such a way that values fame and fortune above all.
Most people that faithfully attend churches, synagogues, and mosques worship the religion of humanism by living in such a way that says that sinful humanity can be good enough to satisfy the infinitely just and holy requirements of God.
Atheists worship the religion of self-reliance by living in such a way that values individuality above all.
The fact is that we are all religious. We all hold something to be of utmost value by which we must order our lives. We all bow down to worship a god of some kind.
In her book entitled, Out of the Saltshaker, Rebecca Pippert says,
“Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives.”
In other words, we are all enslaved to something. And as such, none of us our truly free. And if we are not free, then we cannot be free thinkers as the FFRF desires.
So if none of us are free, and all of us desire to become free, then what must we do in order to become free?
In John 8:34-36, Christ answers this question.
“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Once again, Christ points out that living your life however you want to is not freedom. It is enslavement. And the reason that it is enslavement is that you really are not living how you want to, but you are living according to the dictates of whatever idol you worship.
True freedom can only be found in one Person–the Son. If Christ sets you free by the gospel, then you will truly experience freedom in the way that it was meant by your Creator for you to enjoy.
I would stand in full agreement with any atheist that says we need freedom from religion. Religion does nothing for us but to further deceive us into thinking we are free, when in reality we are merely whitewashing the tomb of our own dead soul.
So what about the FFRF’s statement saying, “Freedom depends upon free thinkers”? I would state it the other way around. We can only be freethinkers when we have been set free by that which enslaves us through the Son who sets us free. And as truly freethinkers, we can then explore the freedom that Christ has given us in the gospel.