The Fourth of July is certainly not a church holiday, but it is an opportunity for the church and the preacher to reflect on the history of the republic, the extraordinary group of leaders who gathered in Philadelphia to declare independence and their remarkable conclusion that at the heart of the American revolution would be individual liberty and freedom of conscience.
The nation has not always lived up to its principles of liberty. It never occurred to the men in Philadelphia that the right to vote should include women—although Abigail Adams surely imagined the day when it would. To secure the support of the southern colonies, the founders decided not to address the question of slavery. Yet the American experiment with freedom, especially with religious freedom, was still unprecedented, and it remains worth celebrating.