Americans and Pastors Have Differing Views on Direction of Religious Liberty


Over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence told Liberty University graduates who were celebrating Commencement that they should prepare to be “shunned” for being a Christian, especially as it becomes “acceptable and even fashionable to ridicule and discriminate against people of faith” in the United States.

Americans seem to be on track with the vice president, says the American Pastors Network According to a new Barna study, more agree that religious freedom is declining. Pastors, however, don’t seem to be as concerned.

“Just by reading the news and seeing case after case of bakers, florists and photographers head to court, Americans realize that our religious liberties are under attack,” said APN President and national radio and television host Sam Rohrer. “With fewer living by a Biblical worldview and fewer identifying as Christian, and with more calling themselves ‘nones’ and more of our politicians heading further left, how can this not be the case? Christians are—and should be—concerned that standing up for their beliefs will become increasingly more difficult. They will likely turn to their pastors and church leaders for guidance, but if ministers don’t see the risk of a loss of religious freedom, there will be a dangerous and demoralizing disconnect.”

Barna conducted the “Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture” study over four years and found that, in 2012, one-third of Americans (33%) said religious freedom was worse than the 10 years before. By 2015, that number had increased to 41% who stated religious liberty had declined, and in 2017, the number ticked up again, to 43%. In all, Barna says, “the general belief that religious freedom in the U.S. is on the decline increased by 10 percentage points over the course of five years.”

Perplexingly, though, Barna found that Protestant pastors’ concern about restrictions to religious freedom is actually decreasing, dropping from 55% in the 2014 survey of all Christian and non-Christian clergy who said they were “very concerned that religious freedom will become more restricted in the next five years.” This percentage fell to below half (49%) in the 2015-16 study and to one-third (34%) in 2017.

Rohrer said the fact that parishioner and pastor views don’t match on this issue is concerning.

“Among the most precious constitutional guarantees is the God-given right to freedom of religion, which is under attack in our nation as we speak and must be defended, lest we awake to the stark reality that while we slept, the enemy crept in unaware,” Rohrer added. “Like the proverbial frog in the water who refuses to jump out as the water temperature increases because the change happens gradually, so are freedoms lost in nations and are being lost in our nation right now. Across the broad spectrum of freedoms we’ve come to take for granted, there are increasing attacks. At first, they are only nibbles, the temperature only slightly increased. Then the nibbles become bites. The temperature goes up. At some point the water begins to boil and it’s too late to move. Then that fragile freedom is gone, never to return to that generation. History is replete with examples of such collapse, moving from freedom to bondage.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

3 replies
  1. Donald F. Henderson
    Donald F. Henderson says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! As a retired Air Force veteran of 22 years service and now a retired United Methodist Licensed Local Pastor I believe our religious liberty is the most important freedom we have! I took an oath at the ripe old age of 18 to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic! Now, at the young age of 78 (79 in July) I have been retired 10 years from the United Methodist Church! I have come to believe that the most dangerous enemies we have today are domestic ones! The extreme Left Progressive Liberals are insane! Coupling that with a Supreme Court that has a bad habit of legislating from the Bench approving the murder of unborn babies and misreading the 1st Amendment has led to a steady decline in morality (based on the Word of God) that has placed the nation in great jeopardy! I am concerned that much of the church is to interested in Social Justice and not enough interest in salvation! If we lead people to Christ the moral condition will improve! Many of the decisions made by our leadership has resulted in major damage to God’s plan which is built on families consisting of a Dad, a Mom, and children! The Church needs to stand up for the Word of God and faith in Jesus Christ, our only way to heaven! I was willing to give my life to defend the Constitution! I am even more willing to give my life in defense of the Church! After all, Jesus, the King of the Universe, was willing to give His life for all of us! My prayers are with you and for the Church!!! Keep the Faith and Fight on with Truth as our ammunition! God Bless!!!!

  2. Stephen G. Doncevic
    Stephen G. Doncevic says:

    Donald F. Henderson: Thank-you for writing . As a 72 year old U.S. Army veteran who was one of the last public high school graduates who started the class day reading a verse from the Bible, saying the Lord’s Prayer and pledging to the Flag I fear for the religious liberty of our great Nation. The most disturbing and most prophetic time, I believe, in the modern history of the Church was the 8 years of the Obama administration. The deafening silence of our Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Hierarchies, priests and pastors during the most corrupt, Anti-Christian, Anti-Jewish and Anti-Life administration in the history of these great United States was a disgrace to Christ, His Church, His Saints and Martyrs, our Founding Fathers, the millions of us who served and the hundreds of thousands who never came back. After 8 years of the Shepherds in hiding the wolves have become emboldened to devour His sheep. Evidently the words of Timothy are irrelevant to the arbiters of good and evil: 1 Timothy 5:20 “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and careful instruction.”
    As has been said – “Goodness without courage is meaningless!” GOD BLESS. HE IS RISEN!

    • Carolyn O
      Carolyn O says:

      Amen to all that you two have said. We need more Christian leaders who will stand for the truth, and not worry about pleasing people, but rather about pleasing God.
      ON the flip side, thank goodness for all the pastors/leaders that DO speak up, and do attend Pro Life rallies, and DO speak against all sins in the Bible, (like homosexuality and other sexual sins) . Some pastors/leaders ARE talking to their representatives, and do encourage the people they influence (church members etc.) to take action when they can (like VOTE for the right candidates etc.)
      We are making some progress, but as usual it is a mixed bag. some advances, some setbacks – like the terrible abortion laws passed in NY.
      I am a pro lifer Christian from way back! And I believe Christians need to speak up- and say : Abortion is wrong, sex “change” surgery is wrong, letting people who say they are a gender they are not, into the wrong bathroom is wrong!


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