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  • Amy Travis

The Pursuit of Liberty

America… “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

You may recognize this as the last line in the Star-Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key as he watched a huge American flag raised by soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry after a critical victory over the British in 1814.

The British had recently captured Washington D.C. and were now moving to invade Baltimore. They were confident that taking Baltimore—a thriving port city—would prove more strategic than conquering the capital city. Major General Robert Ross, the commander of the British Army, felt certain that taking Baltimore would cripple the American war effort and provide a victory for England.[1]

With over 10,000 men and 100 cannons, the Americans mounted a stronger defense than anticipated. British warships were pressed to engage and bombarded Fort McHenry with mortar fire. However, because of the shallow waters surrounding the Port of Baltimore, the British fleet eventually withdrew. Their defeat at Fort McHenry in Baltimore was a decisive victory for the Americans and led to both sides signing a peace agreement later that same year.[2]

Unfortunately, many may not recognize these famous lyrics from the Star-Spangled Banner formed as a result of that fateful battle. In recent years there’s been a coordinated effort to erase history and reshape the narrative in our country. Our heritage is being uprooted daily. We are seeing individuals disrespecting our flag, desecrating our monuments, and erasing the brave heroes who fought for our freedom.

The “Land of the Free” is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten our very freedoms.

America’s uniqueness lies in the fact it is the only country expressly founded on the idea of religious freedom. The early settlers to America risked their lives and their children’s lives to make the treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean in search of this elusive target. It’s highly unlikely that any of us in this country will experience the persecution and torture for our religious beliefs that the first Americans did back in England. This persecution—including the seizing of land and assets and physical torture—came at the hands of the State-run church.

Now think about that for a minute… State-run church. I’m not talking about the Methodist church of Pennsylvania. State-run churches, also known as state-sponsor religions, grant power to the government to tax, punish, torture, or kill you for not conforming to their laws. And let’s be clear about this… state-run religions have absolutely nothing to do with God. State-run religion is a means of controlling the population.

In 1776, the United States of America declared independence from the oppressive, totalitarian British government, sparking the Revolutionary War. The men who signed this document understood the risk they were taking to secure their own freedom and the freedom of many generations to come. This heroic act didn’t go without notice. England branded these men as traitors and hunted them down like animals. According to historian Allan Hicks,

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.[3]

These brave individuals risked losing everything, including their lives and lives of their children in order to find “religious freedom.”

Our freedom to worship our Creator in any way we choose—the primary cornerstone on which this country was built—is slowly eroding away.

Unfortunately, not all Americans recognize what is at stake here. The loss of freedom of religion is more tragic that we could imagine. Let’s look at countries where state-sponsored or state-run religions still exist: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for example, have Islam as their State-sponsored religion. Also, in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Buddhism is the state-sponsored religion. These countries are notorious for consistently and systematically violating human rights.

In these countries, and other places around the world, government replaces God. There are no freedoms—religious, personal, or otherwise—because an individual has no rights. The government controls all the wealth, all the resources, all the land, all the people, all the time.

Unlike the horrific violations of basic human rights perpetuated by governments all over the world, the United States’ Constitution grants us PERSONAL freedom. We have the ability to live where we want, pursue any career we want, and make as much money as we can. We can go to church anywhere we would like and practice any religion we choose.

This is why the Declaration of America’s Independence from England was, and still is, so radical. No other nation on the face of the earth had ever granted such freedom to their citizens. Let that sink in.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

As difficult as it may be to comprehend, personal freedom—the right to own property, to build wealth, to protect yourself and your family, and pursue happiness—didn’t exist prior to 1776.

The Founding Fathers who secured our independence from England were conducting a social experiment called America. They drafted the new Constitution in 1787 (four years after the Revolutionary War ended) to establish rules for the government based on the idea that God created the universe and is the only One who can give life and take it away… not the government. The creators of the constitution patterned the new form of governing after the ideals found in scripture: freedom to worship, sacredness of human life, the ability to own private property, the traditional family, and free markets.

Contrary to popular opinion, the notion of the separation of church and state isn’t a liberal ideology, it references the First Amendment to the Constitution. Previously, the Church and State were the same thing. Government was intended to be god… our provider, our security, and our savior. Separating the two entities in this new government system allowed the individual freedom to worship the Creator, not the government.

The amazing thing about our Constitution is that it guarantees freedom of all religions. Americans are free to practice their faith as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and the like, as long as it is done peacefully and within the boundaries of the law.

Governed by God

There is no factual or historical basis for the removal of Christianity from the Rule of Law in America. As mentioned above, our Constitution is built on the foundation of Biblical Christianity. The brave young men who rebelled against the tyrannical government in England understood this truth.

William Penn, the colonist who purchased Pennsylvania said, “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.”

Penn’s father—Admiral Sir William Penn—was imprisoned four times in England for printing his views regarding his Christian faith and rebellion against the Anglican Church of England. Admiral Penn was a fearless advocate of religious freedom. When Admiral Penn died in 1670, he left his estates in England and Ireland to his son William.

William Penn was granted a royal charter by King Charles II, allowing him to establish the province of “Penn’s Woods” in 1681, later known as Pennsylvania.[4]

Penn carried on his father’s work of promoting religious freedom. His hope for Pennsylvania was for it to become a refuge for Quakers and other persecuted people groups. Penn had a vision for building an ideal Christian commonwealth.[5]

Like many others, Penn understood that if we rejected the protections offered through the natural order which God established at Creation, we leave ourselves open to be exploited by power-hungry dictators and oppressors.

Fast-forward two hundred years. In post-Postmodern America there is a notion that separation of church and state means that government and governing institutions should not be influenced by Christianity. Advocates for this erroneous interpretation of the church-and-state debate have been slowly pecking away at the foundation of our Constitution: Freedom of religion.

It is impossible to separate Christianity from politics. Did you know that 37 of 39 books of the Old Testament books in the Bible were written to, about, or by political leaders? The historical books of the Old Testament outline the founding, establishment, and subsequent fall of the nation of Israel. Establishing the laws of a new land based on the principles given to Moses was a tedious and tricky process.

Prophets in the ancient times weren’t men with long robes that stood at the entrance to the temple and chanted. No, they were political advisors. Prophets in ancient days served as consultants to kings. And as we see with Jeremiah, Nathan, and Ezra, many of them had a seat at the table and the ability to direct both foreign and domestic policy. The prophet Nehemiah served on the cabinet for the Persian King Artaxerxes and eventually led coalition of Jews to return to Israel after years of living in exile.

Please don’t be fooled. The fight to extrapolate Christianity from modern society isn’t an innocent misunderstanding or the expression of another viewpoint, it’s a coup attempt. America is under siege. The attempt to obscure Christianity in American government by some in leadership is part of a larger plan to “fundamentally transform America.”

When disenfranchised young people, graduates of our state-run colleges and universities, began vandalizing and tearing down historic monuments and statues, they weren’t protesting American’s racist roots. If this were true, they wouldn’t have toppled the statue of a Catholic priest and Abraham Lincoln, the man accredited with liberating the slaves.[6]

No… the rioters were protesting our Christian roots, not our racists roots.

It is important to understand that every government is guided by some type of belief system. Democracy is shaped by Christian-Judeo principles. In contrast, Communism is guided by Marxism and Sharia Law is directed by Islam. We’ll explore those worldviews in the next chapter, “Capital Gains.”

The Separation of church and State was never intended to protect the government from the church. Think about that a minute. Many in power would like us to believe that, but it’s simply not true. The purpose of separating the church and state was to protect individuals from the government; for guarding our freedoms, and not to protect the government from Christianity.

Probably the most disturbing finding is that historically, when a government deliberately rejects Christian-Judeo principles—such as Capitalism and free markets, the sanctity of human life, and the ability of private citizens to own property—it does not bode well for that country’s citizens.

Just within the last 100 years we’ve seen the rejection of these principles of governance in Germany, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.

In 1960, the first thing the rebel leaders did during the Revolution in Cuba was to cut off the food supply, as a way to control the people. The second thing the revolutionaries did was to bulldoze churches and religious institutions. This was the way to control the hearts and minds of the people.

I saw the oppression in action while visiting Communist-controlled Cuba in 2015. My husband and I had the opportunity to speak at a leadership conference to a group of over 300 pastors in Santa Clara, central Cuba. It’s a beautiful country with amazingly resilient people. We absolutely loved our time there but were heart-broken at the abject poverty we witnessed.

On our second day there, we visited a family in remote area who hosted a church in their home. Since the government notoriously shuts down churches—often leveling them to the ground—Christians are forced to hold church in their homes. Their “church” consisted of 90 regular attenders on any Sunday morning who met in their living room, an area approximately 12’ x 20’!

This couple had three sons and another family member living with them, but I only noticed one bed… a dirty mattress sitting on the concrete floor.

Cubans are highly educated, hardworking people, even though each worker makes the equivalent of $30 USD per month. This is true regardless of profession. Custodians make the same amount as doctors in this country. They are not given a choice of where they go to college, or even career they will pursue—the government tells them what they will study. Young men are forced to join the military, known as compulsory service.

The Castro brothers “sell” doctors, engineers and other highly trained professional to other countries to work in desolate, high crime areas where their local citizens refuse to work. The receiving country pays the Castro’s, not the employee or even the government. An individual can’t refuse, because he will never work again since everyone works for the state.[7]

The citizens of Cuba do not have the ability to pursue happiness or liberty.

Unfortunately, Cuba isn’t the only country that abuses its citizens, denying them the ability to thrive, and sometimes even survive. China, North Korea, Haiti and Venezuela are among the worst offenders, but they are not the only ones. I’ve also witness and the brutal living conditions and hopelessness of many in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Dominican Republic.

I was surprised to discover that even Germany was a democracy prior to 1933. But Hitler and other communist leaders disrupted the democratic process by burning down their capital building one week before the election was to take place. We all know what happened soon after that with ethnic cleansing campaign that began with the elimination of its most vulnerable populations: the sick, elderly, and children.

Venezuela was once Latin America’s richest country and one of its longest-running democracies. A New York Times article in 2019 alleged that Venezuela is now a failed state because (in short) its government oversaw the destruction of its democracy and it economy, plunging much of the country into desperate poverty.[8]

How exactly does a Democracy fall? It’s hard to image that our beautiful democracy in America—built and paid for by the blood and sweat of the brave founders—could ever be destroyed. But history tells us otherwise.

Even the mighty Roman empire fell, the superpower that encompassed much of the known world for over 500 years. Historians don’t agree on the precise reasons, but most concur that political corruption and over-spending were significant factors.

We have seen from history that three major factors contribute to the fall of a democratic society: 1. Deny religious freedom through fear and intimidation; 2. Ruin the economy through extreme taxation, oppressive regulations, and devaluating exports; and 3. Allowing bad-actors into government, thus increasing wide-spread corruption. Simply put, any attempt to topple a democratic governing system is a play for power.

Major Amir Tsarfati, a decorated officer in the Israeli Army said this in a Happening Now event in Southern California, “Socialism always comes to power in a semi-democratic ways but will never let go of power until there is bloodshed. I’ve seen it many times all over the world.[9]

We should be very concerned when some in our government are attempting to remove our history and “fundamentally change” our society. These attempts have nothing to do with social justice and have everything to do with ushering a dictatorial power in government. We’ll discuss these principles more in upcoming chapters.

The Wrap-Up

World-wide, biblically based Christianity is the only religious system that supports personal freedom and is compatible with a democratic government. Attempts to remove Christian-Judeo values by a government is a coordinated effort to usher in a dictatorship. A major part of a want-a-be dictator’s playbook is to find any way to disrupt the democratic process and limit personal freedoms.

The separation of church and state is intended to protect citizens—to protect you—from unlawful interference by the government in private matters, including the freedom to worship. The government IS God in systems such as Socialism, Communism, Marxism, and others. When Judeo-Christian principles are removed and a democratic government system is replaced with Socialism, it never goes well for that country’s citizens.

Winston Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

If we allow our Constitution to be compromised and our Christian roots upended, we will suffer the fate of other failed countries… the very nations from which our citizens originally fled in pursuit of liberty.

- Amy Travis

[1] "Battle Of Fort Mchenry Facts & Summary". 2020. American Battlefield Trust. [2] "Battle Of Fort Mchenry Facts & Summary". 2020. American Battlefield Trust. [3] Hicks, Allen. 2020. "What Happened After The Declaration Of Independence Was Signed?". Allanhicks. [4] "Province Of Pennsylvania". 2011. En.Wikipedia.Org. [5] Tolles, Frederick. 2020. "William Penn - Founding And Governorship Of Pennsylvania". Encyclopedia Britannica. [6] "List Of Monuments And Memorials Removed During The George Floyd Protests". 2020. En.Wikipedia.Org. [7] "More Poverty Than Ever Before |". 2020. Therealcuba.Com. [8] Margolis, Jason. 2019. "Venezuela Was Once The Richest, Most Stable, Democracy In Latin America. What Happened?". The World From PRX. [9] Tsarfati, Amir. 2020. Happening NowJack Hibbs Interview by . In person. Calvary Hills Church, Chino Hills, CA.

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