The very first issue of Liberty magazine rolled off the presses in 1906 at a time when there was a lot going on in America. In the early decades of the twentieth century there was a massive political effort to pass a national Sunday observance law, and to alter the U.S. Constitution in ways that would make it difficult for seventh-day Sabbathkeeping Christians and for other religious minorities.
In response, the Seventh-day Adventist Church launched a new magazine to share our biblical understanding of religious liberty with America’s lawmakers and other thought leaders. On the very first page of the first issue of Liberty magazine, the editor outlined the philosophy that would guide this new publication.
He wrote: “We will champion liberty for the weak and the defenseless because we believe that no power but the power of love can rightfully compel the human conscience.”
Today, there are still those who wish to “compel the human conscience” in troubling ways. Important religious liberty questions are being debated in courts, legislatures, and in the media.
Is religious speech entitled to the very highest level of protection under the free speech clause of the First Amendment?
- Can a Christian student club be kicked off a public school campus for choosing leaders who affirm Christian beliefs?
- Do religious schools have a right to hire staff based on shared doctrines?
- Can a doctor be required to put aside deeply held convictions and facilitate a patient’s request for physician-assisted suicide?
- Can religious colleges enforce religion-based codes of student conduct?
- Can an employer rescind a job offer when they find out an applicant is a Sabbathkeeper?
As people of the Word, we live in anticipation of Christ’s soon return and we know, through prophecy, that threats to religious freedom will continue to multiply.
But regardless of what happens, we have a responsibility to defend God’s gift of liberty. As Ellen White wrote: “The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with knowledge of His Word” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 68).
Thank you for your prayers and for your continued financial support, as together we continue to hold high the “banner of truth and religious liberty.”