Free Exercise of Religion is Guaranteed, Even in a Post-Christian World

“The First Amendment was Written to Restrain the Government from Trampling on the Human Conscience,” Says Bestselling Author Dr. Michael Youssef in Newest Book, “Hope for This Present Crisis”

July 12, 2021

ATLANTA — Even though the Fourth of July has come and gone, bestselling author Dr. Michael Youssef points out that it has never been timelier to discuss our freedoms, especially the freedom of religion. In his latest book, Hope for This Present Crisis,” Dr. Youssef reminds readers that Freedom of worship is not the same thing as freedom of religion—and why the precise wording of the First Amendment is so important.

“Politicians often use the phrase ‘freedom of worship’ instead of the First Amendment term, ‘the free exercise of religion.’ Do the specific words matter? Yes, they do,” Dr. Youssef reminds us.

‘Freedom of worship’ means you are free to worship inside your church any way you choose. Many politicians, judges, and secular-left activists want you to keep your religion behind church doors, where no one else can see or hear it. “They don’t want you talking about your faith in the classroom, on campus, or in a public park,” says Dr. Youssef. “They don’t want to see you praying or singing Christian songs in front of a government building.

“That’s why the precise wording of the First Amendment is so important. It guarantees the free exercise of religion, not just freedom of worship. We are free to exercise our faith at work, on campus, in the neighborhood, on the military base, and everywhere else,” says Dr. Youssef. “We do not merely have freedom of worship one day a week. We are free to exercise our religion 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

In “Hope for This Present Crisis,” Dr. Youssef highlights two recent Supreme Court cases that illustrate the importance of the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. In Lakewood Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the owner declined to create a custom wedding cake for a same sex wedding of two men, which violated his Christian beliefs and his conscience. The couple filed a complaint with the Commission, which then ordered the Christian baker to provide cakes for same-sex marriages, provide antidiscrimination training for his staff, and make quarterly reports for two years to the Commission demonstrating his compliance.

The baker refused to comply and instead took the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to court, claiming they had violated his first amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court agreed with him, in a seven-to-two ruling. But the anti-Christian attacks continue, with other civil rights violations cases being brought against the cake shop by other affinity groups claiming discrimination.

The second case involves the Christian crisis preg­nancy centers—National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. In California, the 2015 California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (also known as the FACT Act) required Christian crisis pregnancy centers to post notices advertising state-sponsored abortion clinics. This causes a conflict because crisis pregnancy centers exist to provide coun­seling and other assistance so that women can choose not to have an abortion.

“Freedom of speech doesn’t merely mean the freedom to speak your mind. It’s also the freedom not to speak a message the government seeks to force on you,” says Dr. Youssef. Although the Christian crisis pregnancy centers lost their case in the famously far left Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of the United States later ruled in a five-to-four decision that California’s FACT Act violated the First Amendment.

“Neither of these cases involved the right to worship. Instead, they involved our right to practice our faith and obey our religious conscience in our daily lives. I applaud the example of this Christian baker and these crisis pregnancy centers. At a high cost to themselves, they defended their right to think, believe, and behave as Christians in this post-Christian world.

“The First Amendment was written to restrain the gov­ernment from trampling on the human conscience… The government should never require people to violate their conscience for any reason. That’s why religious freedom is the first right listed in the First Amendment,” says Dr. Youssef.

“Hope for This Present Crisis” is published by FrontLine, an imprint of Charisma House, and is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM, ChristianBook.com, and Leading The Way.

Dr. Michael Youssef was born in Egypt and lived in Lebanon and Australia before coming to the United States and fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming an American citizen. He holds degrees from Moore College in Sydney, Australia, and Fuller Theological Seminary in California, with a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Emory University. He founded The Church of The Apostles which was the launching pad for Leading The Way’s international ministry. Dr. Youssef has authored more than 50 books, including popular titles like “Jesus, Jihad and Peace” and “Saving Christianity?” 

Dr. Youssef is the host of the popular TV and radio broadcast Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, which airs more than 13,000 times every week across six continents in 26 languages—reaching audiences in nearly every major city in the world. His programs attract tens of millions of viewers weekly in the U.S. on major TV networks, including TBN, Daystar, Fox Business, Lifetime, GOD TV, CTN, NRB TV, and more.

Equipped with a keen understanding of the Bible, the Middle East, sociological trends in the Western world, and popular Christian worldview issues, Dr. Youssef is a sought-after voice whose expertise is regularly requested on both secular and Christian media, including Huckabee, Fox & Friends, Eric Metaxas, The Hugh Hewitt Show, The Christian Post, Fox News, Hannity, Glenn Beck, The 700 Club, and more. He and his wife reside in Atlanta and have four grown children and ten grandchildren.

###

To interview Dr. Michael Youssef and to receive a review copy of “Hope for This Present Crisis,” contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.