Would the Pilgrims want to come to America today?

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I met Nate Grasz at a retreat sponsored by the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University back in September. He is one heck of a fella — astute, articulate, highly intelligent, and a committed Christian conservative. Nate sent me a blog piece he wrote for Thanksgiving as part of the 1776 Scholars, which seeks to promote faith, family, freedom, and future for the next generation of patriotic young Americans. He serves as an administrator, editor, and author to the 1776 Scholars blog. His goal is to bring awareness, understanding, and thought-provoking discussion to important issues for millennials.

I am reposting his piece here as a message not just to millennials, but to all of us — indeed would the Pilgrims want to come to America today? Or would they see it as the England they sought to flee because of religious persecution by the State? It is a very pointed question that if you honestly assess the answer is certain — they would not set sail for Plymouth Rock in these current United States of America.

And therefore, how long will it be before we forget the real story and lesson behind Thanksgiving? People seeking religious freedom from persecution — funny thing, where would we go today to find safe harbor to worship? Remember the first amendment says, “Freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof.” I am thankful for the landing at Plymouth Rock, the desire of the Pilgrims to establish a sanctuary for religious freedom — and for our Founding Fathers who codified it.

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But as Nate brings out — “when did atheism and religious intolerance become the official position of the United States?” I do find it rather confusing that people claim offense by something they state does not exist.

Thanks Pilgrims for giving us Thanksgiving Day and our religious freedom.

Here is Nate’s piece in its entirety:

Thanksgiving. Pilgrims. When you think of one you think of the other. However, on this Thanksgiving, I think it is worth wondering that if this same group of Pilgrims that set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 could jump through the pages of history, would they even want anything to do with today’s America?

We’re all familiar with the famed story of the Pilgrim’s journey on the Mayflower- traveling from England to America to establish their own colony in pursuit of religious freedom. This story has always been significant to me as I am a direct descendant of the Pilgrim’s head elder, William Brewster.

The Pilgrim’s journey to Plymouth Rock was sparked by religious persecution- facing fines and being tossed in jail as consequences for not abiding to the Church of England. They found refuge and freedom in a new land, and created the first written framework of government in what became the United States of America. Since then 394 years have passed and I have begun to question, would this nation be one they flee to, or flee from?

America is a free nation, but there is no question that the tolerance for religious freedoms, particularly those of Christianity, is decreasing- all while the intolerance for it is growing. No, Christianity is not the official religion of America. But when did atheism and religious intolerance become the official position of the United States? We are a nation of religious freedom that was founded on the principles of Christianity. You can like it or hate it, but the United States of America exists because of its founding on Christianity and religious tolerance.

Some recent examples of this religious intolerance you won’t see plastered all over the media:
  • Houston Mayor Annise Parker issues subpoenas for five Houston pastors, demanding that all sermons and material dealing with homosexuality and gender identity be turned over to her office for censorship.
  • City officials in Idaho create ordinances threatening pastors with fines and jail time for their refusal to marry homosexuals.
  • Christian-based organizations such as Hobby Lobby and Colorado Christian University have to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court just in order to not be forced in to paying for their employees to have abortions provided in their health care.
  • Jack Phillips, owner of a Lakewood, Colorado cake shop, is sued by a homosexual couple for not selling them a wedding cake due to his religious beliefs. A Colorado judge ruled in favor of the homosexual couple.
  • A school in Montgomery County, Maryland, recently removed all references to religious holidays from its school calendar.
  • ESPN repeatedly broadcasts Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend after being drafted and hails him as a hero, and then quarterback Robert Griffin III is forced to turn his shirt bearing the name Jesus on it inside out for a post-game press conference.

The list goes on and on as prayer and any references to the Bible are being taken out of schools and any reference to God or religion in the public square is under constant threat of being removed. There is no question that the culture in America today wants nothing to do with Christianity.

Meanwhile, we still see Ferguson, Missouri continuing to look like a war-zone in the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. No matter how you feel about this tragic situation, clearly people destroying and looting their own community’s stores and businesses is not a justifiable reaction. Today’s America is not close to anything the Pilgrims or Founding Fathers ever could have envisioned as a land where people could openly practice their faith and raise their children in.

Things may look rosy for Christians on Sunday mornings, but when in the history of our country has there ever been as much backlash towards religion as we see today? Maybe the Pilgrims and our Founding Fathers knew something that I fear many today have long forgotten. They understood that there is no greater freedom than religious freedom, and they went to great lengths to achieve it. It seems that today’s culture is going to great lengths to destroy it.

This Thanksgiving I am especially thankful for those who still know the importance of religious freedom, and those who are willing to continually fight for it every day in the United States.

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