Published on August 08, 2022 at 12:59 p.m.
Since 2007, statistics show that religion is in decline in almost all high-income countries, and in America the crisis of faith has reached record levels.
A new Gallup poll has shown that fewer Americans than ever believe in God and less than half of those who are believers (42%) say God hears and answers prayers.
There has also been a decline in the relevance of the Bible, the holy scripture of the Christian religion. A values and beliefs survey conducted in May showed a record 20% of Americans now say the Bible is the literal word of God, half of what it was at its peaks in 1980 and 1984. A new high of 29% say the Bible is the literal word of God. The Bible is a collection of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man”.
Pew Research predicts that by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion) and Christians (2.9 billion).
In a recent speech at Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Freedom Summit in Rome, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the problem is not just ignorance of religion, but there is a “growing hostility” to traditional religious beliefs. Alito expressed concern that as the world becomes increasingly secular, people will no longer understand the vital role religion plays in society.
During his 37-minute address, Alito spoke about the current challenge to religious freedom in the United States and Europe, where large percentages of the population have abandoned religion and are therefore no longer interested in safeguarding it. He warned that a growth of secularism in society and a simultaneous reduction in religious involvement would compromise the free exercise of religion.
The judge highlighted how Christians have been persecuted for centuries, listing examples of how faith-filled individuals endured horrific torture, including Christian blood sports inside the Roman Colosseum and the use by Roman Emperor Nero of Christians “as human torches” outside the arena. People of various other faiths have also suffered, including victims of the Holocaust, the massacre of Yazidis in Iraq by the Islamic State and China’s “indescribable treatment” of Uyghurs.
As hostility to religion escalates, Alito said it also threatens our fundamental right to free speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which also involves other forms of religious exercise. such as a spoken or written prayer, scripture recitation, homily, religious book or article.
Regarding freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, such as a religious service in a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, Alito posed a question to his audience: “If a government can ban these meetings, will to forbid others?
In his challenge to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID restrictions, Pastor Rob McCoy of Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks said the executive orders intentionally discriminate against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings, and did argue that the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that the government has no power whatsoever to close places of worship.
McCoy said at the time of his ongoing legal battles, in which he faced jail time for preaching and defying lockdowns, more people were coming to his church in northwest Los Angeles because it remained open . They came, he said, because their liberties had been taken and they wanted to find the source of freedom in a divine Saviour.
Freedom, he stressed, is not the idea of man, it is the idea of God.
Under the onslaught of personal attacks, Christian stalwarts like McCoy and Alito remain unfazed by the hate campaign being waged by many on the left.
A major goal of Alito’s speech in Rome was to inform or remind how fragile religious freedom really is. He wonders what historians will say centuries from now about this nation’s contribution to world civilization.
“No human achievement is ever permanent, and unless the people are convinced that strong religious freedom is worth protecting, it will not last,” he warned.
By Jim Zbick | [email protected]
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