by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read
This weekend, Americans will observe two important holidays: Passover and Resurrection Sunday.
For millions, this is a joyful season, a time of thanksgiving and celebration. Our Jewish friends commemorate the miraculous liberation from slavery in Egypt through the “passing over” of the forces of destruction, or the sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on the third day, a powerful reminder of the spiritual liberty and life we have because of His sacrifice on the cross.
If we pause for a moment, we see that both holidays share a common theme: freedom.
This season helps ground us with an eternal perspective. It also prompts us to reflect on our country’s foundational priorities. Especially, it highlights how incredibly blessed we are to live in a nation built on the promise and principle of religious freedom.
As many of us look forward to this Easter and Passover, let’s not forget that not too long ago our liberty to celebrate these holidays was under significant threat.
Wind the clock back to 2020, and this special and sacred season of the year was marked by government officials shutting down houses of worship all across the country. Attending a religious service in-person (or even a safe CDC compliant drive-in service) was on the verge of being considered a criminal act. Some state officials even prohibited people getting together in their own homes for a Bible study.
The worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, and many Americans will finally have an opportunity to attend and participate a worship service or communal celebration in-person. Many will perhaps do so for the first time in two years. We’ve come a long way from the constitutional crisis that threatened to “suspend” our God-given rights. That’s good news—and we should be thankful that a vast number of Americans are once again living in liberty.
There are many lessons to learn during Easter and Passover. Here is a vital one that we cannot miss: Religious liberty is special and unique. It’s a liberty in America’s DNA. You simply cannot discuss America without talking about the bedrock upon which it was built: The right of every citizen to freely live out their faith. Without religious freedom, the rest of the civil liberties we cherish will soon come crumbling down.
This all boils down to something simple, yet profound: Religious freedom is worth defending. The more intently we look around, it’s undeniable we’re in the midst of an intense battle for our First Freedom in America—and this fight is far from over.
In his new memoir, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr has this to say:
“I believe the civil rights issue of our time is our religious liberty enshrined in the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
Even a cursory scan of headlines will quickly show this is a statement grounded in truth.
Government overreach, woke ideology and the toxic cancel culture have formed a dangerous alliance that abhors religious freedom. The attacks are all around us—from charities helping the poor and homeless being constantly harassed for their religious character, or people of faith being canceled, silenced and fired for expressing their beliefs.
The enemies of faith and freedom will always find new excuses to restrict and attack our rights and freedoms. They will bring the fight everywhere, whether it’s in our schools, houses of worship, the military, our jobs and even to our doorstep. President Ronald Reagan offered these wise words during his inaugural address, exhorting us to always be ready to defend our liberties:
“Freedom is a fragile thing…it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it, have never known it again.”
On Easter and Passover weekend, the free exercise of religion will be at its peak. We will enjoy the incredible blessing of openly and publicly living out our faith. But if our country is to truly remain the Land of the Free, it will require every American to be constantly vigilant.