Liberty in the Things of God | Book Review


Robert Louis Wilken opens Liberty in the Things of God with this proposition, which American readers likely will find unobjectionable, if not self-evident: “Religious freedom rests on a simple truth: religious faith is an inward disposition of the mind and heart and for that reason cannot be coerced by external force.” And yet, throughout history, this seemingly unobjectionable, self-evident proposition has been more honored in the breach than in the observance. Consider, for example, the history of Christianity, which was born in the fires of persecution. When Christians became Roman emperors, the formerly persecuted turned imperial power into a sword against … Continue reading Liberty in the Things of God | Book Review

Demanding Liberty | Book Review


When religious freedom makes the news these days, controversy follows hard on its heels. Many believe that such controversy is a recent thing, a deviation from the traditional American respect for the “sacred rights of conscience,” but even a passing acquaintance with American history exposes this belief as nostalgia. Religious freedom has always been controversial. “Nothing teaches like experience,” wrote Isaac Backus in A History of New-England, “and what is true history but the experiences of those who have gone before us?” Brandon J. O’Brien’s Demanding Liberty tells the story of Backus’s decades-long fight for religious liberty in America in … Continue reading Demanding Liberty | Book Review

Video of ‘Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination’ at The Heritage Foundation


American public discourse, especially about controversial issues, is often conducted at a very low level. More heat than light, one might say. In this video from The Heritage Foundation, John Corvino, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan Anderson show how to have an informative, civil, and pointed debate about the legal conflict between religious liberty protections and LGBT nondiscrimination laws. Continue reading Video of ‘Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination’ at The Heritage Foundation

Video: ‘Religious Liberty at the Present Time with Mark Bauerlein and Mark Movsesian


Over at First Things, Mark Bauerlein interviews Mark Movsesian about “Religious Liberty at the Present Time.” The website has a transcript if you want to read the conversation. Here’s the video if you want to watch or listen to it. Continue reading Video: ‘Religious Liberty at the Present Time with Mark Bauerlein and Mark Movsesian

Review of ‘Faith in the Voting Booth’ by Leith Anderson and Galen Carey


Leith Anderson and Galen Carey, Faith in the Voting Booth: Practical Wisdom for Voting Well (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). Today (March 15), voters from Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Since I am a Missourian, I performed my civic duty and cast a ballot along with them. Voting is so routine in American life that we Americans often take it for granted. We shouldn’t, however. It is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. It also can be hard work. Choosing a candidate or supporting a referendum requires informed … Continue reading Review of ‘Faith in the Voting Booth’ by Leith Anderson and Galen Carey

Review of ‘Free to Serve’ by Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies


Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies, Free to Serve: Protection the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2015). Paperback | Kindle [Author’s Note: This review originally appeared at InfluenceMagazine.com.] James 1:27 offers this memorable definition: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” For James, then, religion consists of a humanitarian and an integrity mandate. “Do good,” we might say, “ and be good!” For Christians across the ages, the humanitarian mandate … Continue reading Review of ‘Free to Serve’ by Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies

Review of ‘The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom’ by Steven D. Smith


 Steven D. Smith, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). Hardback / Kindle In America, religious freedom is often named “the first freedom.” One reason reason for this name is religious freedom’s pride of place in the First Amendment. Only after stating, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” does that amendment go on to prohibit congressional laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress … Continue reading Review of ‘The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom’ by Steven D. Smith