Is It Illegal to Evangelize?

Courtesy Austin Williams, First Baptist Church, Villa Rica, Georgia

So an evangelical evangelizing is now illegal?

That is the charge being thrown around at Villa Rica First Baptist Church in Villa Rica, Georgia by Freedom From Religion Foundation. The vicious crime was that one coach and 18 players were baptized on school grounds. I spoke with Sr. Pastor Kevin William to get the full scoop.

“This community has been riddled with sex scandals, murder, drug bust and suicide. A group of us got together and decided to reach out and get involved in these kids’ lives and try and stop all this nonsense.”

A man he calls “Hogan” lead the charge with a group of about 75 men who meet every Friday morning at the Chic-Fil-A for prayer and breakfast. The group then makes their way down to the football field to meet and pray with the players who are willing.

This past summer the team wanted to go to (FCA) Fellowship of Christian Athletes Football Camp. Lacking the necessary funds to go, Pastor Williams stepped in and the First Baptist Church helped fund the trip.Williams says, “while at camp 23 got saved.”

A few months later at an annual church event named, Grid Iron Sunday, “13 of the 23 kids were baptized and an additional 50 had a first time profession of faith,” says Williams.

One of those 50 was the defensive coordinator for the local high school football team. The next week he decided to be baptized but wanted to do it after school on the football field. Pastor Williams agreed and they set up a tin feeding trough in the end zone, filled it with water and had a service open to all “after school.”  “The coach along with 18 others who had already had a profession of faith were baptized,” said Williams.

When asked what has struck him most about the outrage, he says: “I find it odd that in a country with such high racial tensions nobody noticed the fact that our video showed white, black, and Hispanic boys hugging and holding each other. Unity, that’s what it’s all about!” In the wake of such a broken culture one has to wonder why such an outrage.

Despite this obvious display of a community coming together some have cried out that worn out argument about the “separation of church and state.”

Can we forget the reality of the inherent straw man fallacy being made here for a moment? The Constitution in no way prohibits the Christian faith from being practiced in our schools, our Congress, or any other public arena.

In Cotting v. Godard,  (1901), the Supreme Court stated:

The first official action of this nation declared the foundation of government in these words: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “….. it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.”

Based on the 1901 Court and the countless quotes from our Founding Fathers it seems clear that God was not intended to be left out of the public discourse. In fact according to John Adam, God was a necessity for our system of government. He said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” That’s because our government is predicated on the idea that man has rights that come from God not other men.

Sometimes governments overreach their authority and make unjust laws. When King George did this our patriarchs disobeyed those unjust laws. In a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” MLK stated that we have “a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” He went on to say that,  “I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” In distinguishing between an unjust law and a just law, King writes, “A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law”

The fact of the matter is that the law doesn’t prohibit Christians from practicing their faith in the public square, but even if it did, we should side with Dr. King. As he wrote, “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.”

Society may move to place where the majority among us would seek to silence the voice of the religious minority. If that day comes, the preservation of our freedom will depend on the real lovers of liberty purposefully engaging in civil disobedience of an unjust law. For after all an unjust law is no law at all. So to you Southern Baptists in Villa Rica, I say: don’t let an unjust law keep you from fulfilling the Great Commission.