USA (MNN) — In the U.S., President Obama and religious freedom don’t exactly have a “winning” relationship. Last fall, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzanne Cook resigned from her position, citing the need for a “higher salary” to support her children’s educations.
Nine months down the road, the Obama administration has yet to nominate a replacement.
President Obama and religious freedom were at-odds again in February at the National Prayer Breakfast. Four months after Cook’s resignation, President Obama stated, “We will keep standing for religious freedom around the world…I look forward to nominating our next Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom to help lead these efforts.”
On a separate but related note, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the widely-criticized Hobby Lobby case came as a surprising “win” for religious freedom.
The lack of care for religious freedom–both internationally and at home–is a far cry from the intent of U.S. Pilgrims.
“They saw this continent, this New World, as a beachhead from which to evangelize the entire world,” shares David Shibley of Global Advance. “From the very beginning, the Pilgrims were sharing the Gospel with Native Americans.
“There was a very clear understanding that a cherished faith, if it truly was cherished, had to be advanced, and had to be propagated and shared.”
Why it matters
Religious freedom is vital for sharing the Gospel effectively and fulfilling the Great Commission. The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, and it also stops the government from interfering in the way a person practices his or her religion.
This means, under U.S. law, believers are free to pray in public places, tell others about the eternal salvation available through Jesus Christ, and openly attend church.
Although religious freedom isn’t a priority to President Obama and other U.S. officials, Global Advance is picking up the slack. Through pastoral training conferences and marketplace missions initiatives, they’re training leaders around the world and at home.
“Anywhere people need Jesus, that’s where we need to be, and that includes our own nation,” Shibley notes. “This very month, we are training Latino leaders here in the United States, in Dallas, to be catalysts for the fulfilling of the Great Commission.”
Pray for understanding for leaders who are receiving this training. Pray that they will be able to implement what they learn.
What you can do
If you know a Latino business or church leader that might benefit from this training, “share” this story with them. You can share it using the buttons at the top of this page, or directly from our Facebook page or Twitter feed.
“The Bible is very clear that we’re to be verbal about our faith,” notes Shibley.
Most importantly, pray for religious freedom in the United States. Pray that President Obama will make it a higher priority. Pray that religious freedom will remain an established right and not be reduced to an optional privilege.
“When placed in the free market of ideas, over and against the other ideologies, the Gospel soars above the others…. The only thing that’s left for the opponents of the Gospel is to do their best to silence it,” Shibley says.
“In our day, when we have the privilege of sharing the Gospel of Christ, we need to take advantage of that.”