Recently there has been a bit of commotion within the Southern Baptist world around a stand Russell Moore took defending a Muslim congregation’s right to worship. Several churches have taken to hold money from the convention over this stand. We need to be clear, Moore did not come out in support of muslim beliefs. He did not give SBC money to the church. He simply defended their right to worship.
Baptists in general should be the grandest supporters of religious freedom for all. Baptists are born from puritans and anabaptists who fled Europe because they were being killed for their beliefs. When America was being founded, our country almost was launched without the protection for all to worship freely. Roger Williams, the founder of the First Baptist Church of America, led the state of Rhode Island to hold out from joining our country until the protection of all religions were guaranteed the right to worship and practice their beliefs. Baptists, as the severe minority, would not have survived if it were not for these protections. Written into the DNA of Baptists is the freedom of worship for everyone.
In recent days religious liberty has come under attack. The questions of whether one’s religious beliefs can direct their business have already been lost in our increasingly secular age. The constitutional right of religious liberty is eroding quickly. Today, christians face the temptation of surrendering this constitutional right inadvertently. If christians state that Muslims do not have the same inalienable rights as they do, they will lose their own religious liberty.
If we say that muslims do not have the right to build a house of worship for themselves, we should not be surprised when we are denied the right to build a house of worship in communities where we are no longer the majority. Our religious liberty, from a political standpoint, is tied to the same freedom that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons share.
This does not mean we believe that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons are right. It means that we support their political freedom to practice their religion. We can disagree with their religious convictions yet still support their governmental freedoms.
Very simply, the day that Muslims are denied the right to build a mosque is the day we surrender our right to build a church. The day Muslims are denied the right to practice their faith is the day we are denied the right to practice ours.
Religious liberty is not real liberty if it only gives freedom to the majority religion. For religious liberty to exist in America, it must be a right granted to every religious group. As Muslim liberty goes so goes Christian liberty.
I stand with Russell Moore and the ERLC.