C.S. Lewis wrote that, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” Well, the high reality is that courage is needed in America now more than ever. When our freedom to believe and to live according to our beliefs is under constant threat from government and external pressure from business, the testing point of our faith is ever before us.
We need examples of courage to encourage all of us in the struggle to maintain the exercise of our first freedom. When courage comes in the form of a statesman — in an area where it’s so often lacking — that statesman deserves special recognition. Last night at our Watchmen on the Wall National Briefing for pastors, I had the privilege of presenting Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant with the first-ever Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award.
In 2014, Governor Bryant signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2014, a law stating that without a compelling reason, government cannot interfere with a person’s exercise of religion. Just last month, Governor Bryant continued his stand for religious freedom by signing the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, of which he said, “This bill … is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”
These monumental actions of Governor Bryant have not come without great pressure from those who seek to advance a radical social agenda — an agenda that does not include religious freedom. Faced with opposition that would have made many with lesser backbone capitulate, Governor Bryant has been unyielding in his stand for people’s freedom to believe and to live out their beliefs.
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Samuel Adams said, as the governor alluded to in his remarks last night, “Courage, then, is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.” I’m glad there are still statesmen like Phil Bryant who are courageous enough to point us forward toward that asylum for liberty.
You can watch the entire award presentation, along with Governor Bryant’s remarks in the video below. You can also see all of the speakers from the Watchmen briefing here, and find out how your pastor can get involved in our Watchmen on the Wall network.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.