"Free Exercise of Religion" Compared to "Freedom of Worship" - Radical

“Free Exercise of Religion” Compared to “Freedom of Worship”

Freedom of Religion

Government does not exist for the establishment of religion—any religion, including Christianity. And at the same time, the government does not exist for the elimination of religion, which is increasingly the trend in our culture, where we’re setting up a secular state that functionally leaves no room for religion in the public square. The government doesn’t exist to eliminate religion or to establish religion. No, the government exists for the free exercise of religion, and that language is crucial. It’s the language that’s used in our Bill of Rights, but it’s not the language that’s used in contemporary culture.

Freedom of Worship

People talk today about the freedom of worship, which is subtly different than the freedom of religion. Because when people use that terminology instead of the free exercise of freedom, people are referring primarily to the freedom that men and women have to gather in a church building like this or a synagogue or a mosque or another place for corporate worship. That extends to the home, where families have the freedom to pray (or not to pray) before meals, before bed or any other time during the day.

Free Servants of God

But all of this, whether at home or in a religious building, is private—freedom that one has when he or she is either alone with a physical family or faith family. But what this label, “freedom of worship,” fails to acknowledge is that those who gather for worship in private settings then scatter to live out their beliefs in the public square. In other words, faith by its very nature, can’t be private. It’s inevitably public… Your faith, as free servants of God, affects the way you live. And as Christians who live and study and work and play in every sector of society, we live out our convictions in every sector of society. That’s what the free exercise of religion means—the freedom of worship not just in episodic gatherings but in everyday life.


David Platt, The Gospel and Religious Liberty, July 6, 2014

Religious liberty is one of the topics that David Platt addresses in Secret Church. For more information and to register, go to SecretChurch.org.

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