Independence Day, How Will You Celebrate?

20150914_185748Independence Day is next Monday. Will you go to a party, swim, or shoot off fireworks? Will you watch a parade or join in community picnics and celebrations? All of these are great ways to celebrate.

We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, in remembrance of the great men and women who declared independence from England in 1776, and then fought to secure that independence. They argued about their beliefs and finally compromised, creating the Constitution. These documents allow us the freedoms, 240 years later, to live in the way we would choose.

Unfortunately, politicians, foreign influencers, and citizens argue that safety is only found in giving up the freedoms our ancestors fought so hard to acquire. Each time there is a disaster or a terrorist attack, more freedoms erode. Those of us who argue for basic freedoms are chastised and criticized.

One of these basic freedoms is the freedom of religion, not just the right to worship as we please, but to freely exercise our religion in our daily life. One leader who stands for religious freedom spoke this week in a Freedom Festival Patriotic Service. He said, “There are concerted efforts to shame and intimidate believers who have traditional moral values and to suppress religious viewpoints and practices regarding marriage, family, gender and sexuality. Worst of all, government sometimes joins in these efforts.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

We are all entitled to freedom of speech, both believers and non-believers. We have the right to stand for the things we believe in, without being taunted by those who don’t believe as we do. Each of the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution are important to fight for.

As you celebrate Independence Day next week, decide what you can do to support our freedoms. What can you do as an individual? What can you do as a small group? We may be few, but we can do something to support and defend our freedoms. What will you do?

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