World War II to Present Day
For purposes of this study, the present will be from WWII to the present day. Only the United States is being considered. The most notable event during WWII regarding religious freedom and human rights was the incarceration of the Japanese, discussed on the previous page.
Supreme Court Cases
There have been at least seventy U.S Supreme Court cases in the last 100 years that have had an impact on religious freedom in the United States. The following are representative samples from the last 50 years:
- Braunfeld v. Brown 366 U.S. 599 (1961), concerned enforcement of a 1959 Pennsylvania criminal statute which forbade the retail sale on Sundays. An Orthodox Jewish business claimed financial harm by having to close on Sundays enforced by law as well as closing to observe the Sabbath. The court ruled against them, stating the statute does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor constitute a law respecting an establishment of religion.
- Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that ruled it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools.
- Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court decided 8–1 in favor of the respondent, Edward Schempp, and declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional.
- Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), concerned a Seventh-day Adventist who was discharged from her job because she would not work on the Sabbath and she could not find work elsewhere because of her faith (she would not work on the Sabbath). The state would not pay unemployment benefits. The court ruled in her favor, saying that disqualification of appellant for unemployment compensation benefits, solely because of her refusal to accept employment in which she would have to work on Saturday contrary to her religious belief, imposes an unconstitutional burden on the free exercise of her religion.
These decisions came at about the same time as the McGowan case. As a reminder, an important part of that decision was as follows: “in light of the evolution of our Sunday Closing Laws . . . and of their more or less recent emphasis on secular considerations [including a day of rest for labor], it is not difficult to discern . . . that presently they bear no relationship to establishment of religion . . . .” This decision will have a significant impact on any future Sabbath-related issues because of the precedent it sets. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that Sunday-keeping and attempting to legislative the enforcement of Sunday legislation does not constitute and establishment of religion. The impact of this cannot be overstated because the decision takes away the very reason for appealing to the courts to begin with! So, the courts will offer no help when organized, legislated persecution comes.
There has been a general attitude of prejudice and negativity towards Christians that has been building over the last few decades. A Pew Research Study recently released is revealing. The percent of the U.S. population who identify as Christian has declined sharply in recent years. A quote from the study is instructive:
- Cultural assault - When relgious liberty clashes with other "rights" the other issue almost always wins. Take the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling recently which did not protect a Christian photographer's right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony when doing so would violate the photographer's deeply held religious convictions.
- Media converage - News media personnel are overwhelmingly secular and biased in their reporting of religious issues. They think that anyone who reads from the Bible is bullying and a firm stand for Bible tris silly and childish.
- A recent Supreme Court decision makes it clear that we are only one judge away from severely curtainly religious freedom in this country.
- Washington Cathedral - The closest thing the United States has to a state-sponsored church building would have to be the Washington Cathedral. Lately, you might not recognize it from the inside because of an unprecedented Muslim worship service complete with prayer rugs. This is supposed to promote "interfaith brotherhood". When there is a choice to give up the distinctive hallmarks of the Christian faith it seems that the answer is yes.
- Italy passed a law giving a car rest on Sunday. With this as a precedent, it is no surprise that the church has entered into the discussion of global warming/climate change. As public opinion increases pressure on governments large and small to do something about this issue, it is only a matter of time before more governments in more countries outlaw certain activities on Sunday with threat of fines and punishment.
- Government overreach is rampant today with so many federal agencies trampling on people's rights. .
All of these factors add up to the very real possbility of some national calamity - environmental, economic, social, or something else - and a certain group such as Sabbathkeepers will be seen as "wierdos", be blamed for whatever the problem is, and be persecuted.
The debate has been raging for years regarding public education and are we really upholding standards over time. Reports of high school students who can't read pop up now and then. Many parents are anxious to home school their children for this reason. Perhaps and example of a 1912 8th grade test from a public school in Kentucky will give some perspective. Can you answer the questions on the test located at http://www.infowars.com/newly-discovered-eighth-grade-exam-from-1912-shows-how-dumbed-down-america-has-become/
Anecdotal stories are not concusive proof, but there is actually a fact that illustrates the point. A Zogby study done in 2006 revealed that three quarters of Americans can identify two of Snow White's seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices. 74% could identify the Three Stooges - Larry, Moe, and Curly and only 42% could identify the three branches of the U.S. Government - legislative, executive, and judicial.
Current news is emphasizing that Facebook has ways of manipulating their audiences. Since most "young people" get their news from Facebook, this is an emerging problem of some magnitude. One has to wonder exactly what
The net result of this is that people are gullible. The news media can slant news in a certain way and many will believe whatever is said on the television or radio. Popular entertainment doesn't help. The immorality and complete emptiness of the entertainment media only adds to the problem of gullibility. The popular culture offers no values. There is no respect for the Word of God. Under these conditions, persecution of a group that is not well liked or respected could happen and few would complain.
Food for Thought
The true ground of divine worship, not of that on the seventh day merely, but of all worship, is found in the distinction between the Creator and his creatures. This great fact can never become obsolete, and must never be forgotten.â€ It was to keep this truth ever before the minds of men, that God instituted the Sabbath in Eden; and so long as the fact that he is our Creator continues to be a reason why we should worship him, so long the Sabbath will continue as its sign and memorial.
"Though the last act of Satan be to unite all the wicked of the earth in the worship of the beast, and to attempt the utter extermination of the saints; yet God has said the saints shall triumph!" The Three Messages of Revelation 14:6-12 PARTICULARLY THE THIRD ANGEL'S MESSAGE, AND TWO-HORNED BEAST, JOHN N. ANDREWS, REVIEW AND HERALD PUBLISHING CO.: BATTLE CREEK, MICH; CHICAGO, ILL.; TORONTO, ONT.; ATLANTA, GA, 1892, P. 144)
Please contact any Seventh-day Adventist church for more information. There are over 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist churches in the world with over 17 million members. We invite you to visit our church at 508 Aquahart Road in Glen Burnie, Maryland and let us explain.