This Sabbath we are focusing on Religious Liberty, and it’s a little early as far as our worldwide church calendar goes, but we moved it to coincide with the availability of our special guest speaker, Orlan Johnson, who is the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Director for the North American Division.

As we welcome him to our congregation this weekend, I would like to invite you to think about the right we enjoy to exercise our religious convictions with an amazing amount of freedom.  Because we have basically experienced this all our lives, I think we take it for granted and probably don’t realize the value of what we are blessed within this country.  Employment laws protect, to an amazing degree, our right to exercise our individual religious convictions without discrimination at our jobs.  In most cases, we are able to get Sabbath work accommodation quite easily.  Many countries do not provide this.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of us to do three things:  First, let’s appreciate and praise God for the blessings of religious liberty we all enjoy.  Second, let’s remember that it has not always been this way, even in this country.  Although our founders came here seeking freedom from religious persecution in their own countries of origin, unfortunately, in many cases, they did the same thing to others here.  So let’s appreciate those people in the past who have influenced our political system to protect freedom as it now does.

Third, let’s remember that the freedom we now enjoy will not always be ours.  We have been warned by inspired counsel that the time will come when our country will repudiate the principles of freedom it was founded on and persecution will again arise.  In light of that, I want to ask the question, “Are we each preparing to stand for our convictions even when it will not be popular or easy, or will we be among those who stand for the right only when it is easy or convenient?”  May God help us all be faithful at all times, even as Daniel was.