The First Amendment protection of religious freedom is designed not just to protect the religious traditions that the majority of us like or feel comfortable with. It is meant to protect religious traditions that the majority may find strange or objectionable.
Barely visible among the high-rise apartment buildings and cocktail lounges, a battered steel door in Manhattan's trendy Tribeca neighborhood leads to a basement jammed with barefoot men praying on their lunch break.
A Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets at Muslim houses of worship sent ripples of surprise and dismay across Europe and Islamic countries at the end of November, even as opponents vowed to challenge the results.
Despite an economic emergency and a popular president, notions of bi partisan cooperation on Capitol Hill collapsed after about a week. The advantages of political partisanship remain extremely compelling.
In the 1950s, the communist government of China expelled all foreign missionaries. Many Americans have seen black-and-white photos of missionary families sitting next to piles of luggage on the wharves of Shanghai, waiting to sail home. We know much about this event because the missionaries came home and wrote books about their dedication and their unrealized harvest.
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.