Protecting Our Right to Practice Religion Freely

 

I’m not certain how long this link to a blog about the Amish will remain active.  If it happens to be removed by the time  you read this article, here is a brief summary:  Amish culture discourages voting, basically because voting represents participation in the claimed authority of the human world.  As I understand it, Amish theology generally stresses the powerlessness and lack of true authority of any government but God’s government.

In my dealings with many Amish friends back in Ohio, Indiana, and New York, I have never personally met any active Amish church member who had ever voted. Their entire objective is based upon their declaration of independence from human government, which began during the late Reformation times. God is our governor. In principle, I completely agree. But I know that we cannot bury our heads in the sand. There ARE those who would, through the law, dominate others and their private practices in the name of what they call the general welfare. As a Christian Scientist, I also witness and live evidence of that often. The Amish originally escaped persecution from a system which offered no guarantee of personal rights. Now they must take care not to simply allow themselves to be walked on again, as must many others of us who do not follow mainstream practices.

Beginning in the 1600s, even the Protestant churches in Europe were State operated (and there they still are State funded, whether you are aware of it or not) and Anabaptists were persecuted, even murdered and tortured for their religious convictions, by Protestant and Catholic alike. Hence their migration to the United States, the only country where they have had enough freedom to be able to both survive and thrive. The United States is unique, in that it is the originator of the concept of a “free church” operated by individuals, independent of an authoritative governmental system. The last Old Order Amish in Europe disappeared completely by the mid 1930s. They could not stand under the socialism and state control that was eventually to dominate Europe. The United States is still the only country in the world, to my knowledge, with Constitutional protection of religious rights. Constitutionally protected or not, religious rights rights still get trampled upon on by too many well meaning people, right here in the USA. Many of the tramplers are the very Christians who would in principle fight for the retention of such rights, but under the influence of convincing propaganda, they unwittingly and ignorantly favor and enforce systems of law which violate the religious rights of their own Christian brothers and sisters. The politically astute reader can perhaps read between the lines here.

But I have had conversations with many Amish about freedom of religion, and about how apathy could lead to their loss of the right to practice their religion and to live their lifestyle. We can only pray that consciousness is awakening across the board.

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