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Christian Counseling - The Role of Fear & Courage in Maintaining the Right of Freedom of Religion

 Around 1620 Pilgrims, known as Separatists, left England for the shores of what would become the showplace of human freedom--America. These brave and determined people and others left their countries to gain freedom of religion.
In 1787 the twelve states approved and signed the Constitution. The first ten amendments are known as The Bill of Rights. The first section of the first amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This is largely understood to mean that the government must remain neutral regarding religion, and there should exist a separation between church and state. The "prohibiting" part means the government cannot interfere in the individual or corporate practice of religion or one's choice not to practice.

This fundamental American right has been under fire for decades from the Left and now it may be the current administration is making a policy shift in support of Leftist ideals regarding religion. In the July 2010 issue of Christianity Today an article ("'Freedom of Worship' Worries") highlighted President Obama's and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of the phrase "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." Though they are sometimes used interchangeably, it may not be the case for them.

Freedom of worship is restrictive, where freedom of religion is open-ended. The former is more about the right to privately pray and worship the God of  your choosing, but it doesn't include the right to raise your children in religious faith, preach, evangelize or even gather together with other like-minded believers. The loss of most any right or freedom comes piecemeal over time. It begins with redefining words or phrases that take hold in a generation or two, which makes it possible to pass new legislation that moves away from the intent of our forefathers. This is the erosion of freedom.

To protect our right to freedom of religion and help guarantee its survival for future generations requires every individual manage their own fears and develop strong courage. Courage, for the most part, is acquired through the consistent practice of embracing and overcoming one's fears. It's not something you can purchase, or simply a matter of faith or rightly expect to suddenly appear when a significant threat arises. Like developing any muscle or personal characteristic, it takes time and concentrated effort.

Entering counseling, especially for the first time, takes moxie and courage that surmounts fear. I believe counseling--facing one's true self--is one of the most, if not the most, difficult experiences of life. Seeing with clarity one's significant strengths and sin nature's potential teaches people how to confront and overcome their fears and inhibitions. It gives them the necessary confidence to go into the world, alone if necessary, and stand with God on their integrity and beliefs. Those who exercise their courage are best prepared to help ensure the continuation of our God-given right of freedom of religion. 

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