I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we ask for you to give us strength of mind and heart t defend our religious liberties. Give us the courage to make our voices heard. Amen.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

A headline on the Fox News website caught my eye: “Finnish lawmaker being charged for expressing her religious views speaks out, calls the case ‘dangerous.’”

The article goes on to say: Finnish members of Parliament Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola were in a courtroom Monday facing up to two years in prison. Their crime: expressing religious views. Räsänen faces three charges of ethnic agitation for a 2004 pamphlet, for taking part in a discussion on a radio show in 2019, and most recently, for tweeting a picture of the Bible. In a 2019 tweet, Räsänen questioned her church’s sponsorship of an LGBTQ Pride event and linked to an Instagram post with a picture of Romans 1:24-27. Bishop Pohjola faces a single charge of ethnic agitation for hosting a pamphlet by Räsänen on his church’s website. Both Pohjola and Räsänen could face prison time if convicted.”

There is general optimism that the case is weak. Lutheran bishops worldwide have issued a statement protesting the trial. Six members of the United States Congress criticized Finland’s attack on religious freedom and called for sanctions. And ten university professors wrote a letter to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom calling for protests and sanctions. The defendants themselves have expressed confidence in their ability to beat the case.

Whether they succeed in that or not, the mere fact that charges were brought against them is significant. According to The Finnish news outlet YLE news, public prosecutor Anu Mantila, who delivered the closing arguments in the trial, stated that “stigmatizing homosexuals as sinful is derogatory, even if the expression is given religious context. Religious speech must also conform to the requirements of the law and be non-discriminatory.”

That statement is as significant as it is troubling, because it represents an increasingly widespread mentality in Europe and America. This mindset is frequently referred to as post-Christian thinking. We’re not too familiar with it yet in the US, but it has been commonplace in Europe for several decades. Post-Christian thinking considers Christianity – once the predominant way of life for the entire continent of Europe – as a thing of the past, irrelevant to today’s technology and media-driven global society, narrow-minded in its adherence to absolute truth on right and wrong, sin, and righteousness. As such it is by and large considered to be an impediment to progressive thinking – in particular the type of thinking that wants to legitimize the types of behavior the Bible calls sin. By legalizing behaviors of individuals and groups that clamor for the right to live as they want, post-Christian society wants to protect some the judgment and criticism of others, which is seen as discriminatory and insensitive. That sounds benevolent and logical, but only when you leave God, our Creator with a moral will, out of the equation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The protection of one group usually means that a group with opposing views comes under attack and, in the case of Finland vs. Räsänen, is deemed criminally liable.

That thinking is emerging rapidly in the American public arena as faith in the God of the Bible is on the decline. Churches in the US who have consistently and outspokenly adhered to the authority of Scripture in what it describes as behavior offensive to God have received the label “religious right” and are regularly accused of being intolerant, narrow-minded, and bigoted in the mainstream media. Post-Christian thinking prides itself on being tolerant – or “woke” as it is often called now – but turns out to be remarkably intolerant towards streams of thinking it deems to be in disagreement.

A more insidious and problematic aspect to post-Christian thinking is its attitude towards religion in general. I am not talking about secularism, which sees any religious belief as irrelevant to life today. I’m talking about inter-faith principles: the notion that all religions are equal paths to God, and everyone has the right to pick one. Again, that sounds reasonable from a humanistic point of view, but it is out of sync with the worldview of most of the world religions it seeks to protect, especially Christianity. The problem is that by declaring all religions equal you imply that it is wrong for any of those religions to “proselytize,” meaning to convince others to turn from their beliefs and embrace yours. Proselytizing in that context is considered a form of intolerance, because you’re basically implying that your religion is right, and the others are wrong. That view of proselytizing is especially a problem for Christianity, which is driven by the conviction that faith in Christ is the only legitimate path to God and the Great Commission to preach that gospel and make disciples from all nations.

I myself have come face to face with inter-faith policies as a chaplain in law enforcement, fire service, and municipal environments. Chaplaincy in the public arena must be inter-faith, lest the agencies get sued by the ACLU and other anti-discrimination watchdogs. As a result, I often found myself having to search out ministers from other religions and sects in order to counsel inmates or traumatized citizens, police officers, or firefighters of the same beliefs. I was not allowed to share the gospel with anyone in need of a relationship with God lest it be seen as proselytizing. National Day of Prayer observances in public places I was called upon to organize had to be inter-faith as well. I often came under attack by clergy of other religions for being too “Christocentric” in organizing those services.

Dave Kubal, our President and CEO, has frequently warned that religious freedom in the US is under attack like never before, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic (For example, in his oped in The Stream). And an opinion piece on the Fox News website by Rep. Church Roy and Tony Perkins states that the Finnish trial may be a harbinger of what is to come for the US. I agree. But it should not entirely surprise us, even though religious freedom is written into the US Constitution. Perhaps our founding fathers did not foresee that it would open the door to lots of other religions to flood the country besides Christianity. Religions that would over time turn against the Christian faith for its bent to consider them false worship and idolatry and for its mission to draw away their worshippers into a relationship with Christ. I think that the “religious freedom” we espouse in the United States is turning into a tolerance for those religious expressions that seem to be non-threatening to personal freedoms and intolerance against any beliefs it deems as a threat to personal freedom. A government that heads in that direction will claim to defend religious freedom, but in practice it will only allow religious expression that toes the line of what it defines as acceptable, not unlike the Three Self Movement in China, which allows “freedom of worship” under strict government regulation and indoctrination.

That kind of one-sided tolerance is what we saw happening in Finland this week, even to the point of declaring what Christians consider speaking truth to be a crime that can be prosecuted in a court of law. Closer to home in the good old US of A, we have seen examples of that as pastors have come under fire and Christian publishers have been sued for declaring homosexuality a sin. In that same vein, a Christian Fire Chief in the Atlanta area lost his job, allegedly because he violated department policy, but in reality, because he wrote a book about Christian manhood in which he stated that the Bible considers homosexuality to be a sin. In response to a different kind of attack that dates as far back as 20 years ago, pastors at several Pastors’ Prayer Gatherings asked for prayer because city councils were attempting to change zoning laws for residential neighborhoods in order to prevent home fellowships from meeting and to restrict the number of churches that could be built or planted within city limits. And more recently, during the pandemic, churches and pastors faced fines and arrest for defying state orders to not meet in public in defense of the aforementioned religious freedoms.

These instances of attack on our freedom to live out biblical Christianity puts us right at the heart of the post-Christian thinking that drives law and public policy. And it is coming, even if another Great Awakening halts its progress. It is coming because Jesus announced it would as He warned His disciples (and us) about the End Times: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away  and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:9-14, ESV)

All that said, we should not fear! Instead, let us be watchful and get ready for a post-Christian society where lawlessness abounds, elevating the rights of an individual to do as he pleases above the overall good of society; where love grows cold because it no longer sees the needs and desires the well-being of all; and hatred of Christ causes people to turn against those who embody His presence here on earth. Let us take to heart the words of Peter to the persecuted church in Asia Minor: “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:9).

How do we resist him? By effective, victorious intercession!

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to awaken His Church to vigilance, to the need for a strong daily walk with God that leads to victorious faith, loving community, and compassionate outreach even as hatred for Christ increases.
  • Pray for God’s people to train in spiritual battle, discern the signs of the times and the schemes of the enemy, and resist him.
  • Pray for practical and spiritual preparedness for times of trial, and for meaningful connections with Christians around the world who can teach us to thrive under opposition and persecution.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to help us understand how to live out the gospel with love and uncompromising adherence to biblical truth in a post-Christian society.
  • Pray for a Great Awakening to yet sweep our nation to gather up the lost, the last, the least, the left-behind and the left-out into His Kingdom and to stem the tide of anti-Christian sentiment.
  • Pray for a revival in the public sector, elected officials from city councils to national government, as well as law enforcement and fire service, in order to turn the tide of decisionmaking, legislation, and law enforcement away from its post-Christian slide and towards a desire for God’s wisdom.
  • Pray for the people of God to increasingly be salt and light in the seven mountains of society and culture and thus to continue to shine light, speak truth, and draw people from all walks of life into a saving relationship with Christ.

Will you join us in praying? Share in the comments!

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

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Herb Johnston
February 25, 2022

What I think about more and more-, what really concerns me- is the inevitable situation if I, or we, are walking, or are attempting to walk, with Jesus.. everyday. ..and that is, that situations discussed here.. about evil in the world and us..or myself-facing it ..and

in daily life situations wherever we are..,- it is not am I thinking- a matter of- if,- but a matter of, when.. as I have understood thousands of sermons-, and read God’s Word for myself.. we are basically guaranteed conflict with the world, at some point.. that may well result and the ending of our life- or my life- of course I do not need to list the various illustrations in God’s Word where Believer’s were sacrificed, martyred, or sang songs in prison.. in my own life- I have not been able to ignore the lack of material pleasures and barely getting by in life.
I have hoped that this would be in preparation for confronting the type of end time scenario.. that we are now seeing. Of course I have no idea if this is really the case.. And of course I hope that I will be able to stand for Jesus instead of buckling and denying Him..when the time comes for it.. (a verse that comes to mind is one that says woe to you when men speak well of you… it was in the 50 days a prayer guide for the Dobbs case.. it refers to when the Old Testament Hebrews attempted to bribe the prophets) But like my online pastor-, Pastor Jack Hibbs , says..”I hope He comes back today , -even RIGHT NOW!!”
.. the point being- is, I have always had this” knee-jerk” reactive personality.. that has caused me to make decisions- or be involved in situations ..where it has been apparent than my decision making is not the best,.. but that also has caused me- to not be in “safe situations “all the time.. of course this might just make me stupid.. and it also might make me ready to stand for Jesus- no matter what the cost- .. will I be scared.. well what is the definition of courage, at least one definition- that definition is.. walking through fear- even when we, or I, am scared… that is probably not the exact wording.. but it is the exact meaning. As far as I’m concerned.. as long as I keep repenting.. praying to forgive those who have wronged me- continue to ask to be released from any ancestral curses ..as I forgive those who have wronged me.. and don’t run away from what is turning out to be current physical and mental torment.. like most of us have- at this point, until the Lord prepares me for the next phase.. I am as ready-,as I think I can be.. as far as I know- always praying and asking that the Lord will have mercy on this miserable sinner.
In the mighty name of Jesus, pushing back the darkness,-in Jesus Name..Amen

Aunt D
February 25, 2022

Thank you for these words. IFA is the only place I feel I can find truth. Thank you for keeping us informed and in prayer. May God’s people rise up. In Jesus most holy name.

R. Brown
February 25, 2022

I will PRAY!!

Sheryl Boyd
February 24, 2022

This is a thought-provoking article. We are watching the world and our American culture change from what it used to be yet, I am reminded of the freedom The Cross provides. It comes with benefits. Acts 3:6-7 stood out and I think we may be coming to a time in our love-walk/faith-walk where there will be no other way to help someone other than calling on The Name and expecting God to act.
In Derek Prince’s teaching “True and False Christ 4303” he states that there will be an “upsurge of the occult” and relates this to point out 2 Timothy 3:8-9. He goes on to say that “the battle was not on the level of theology but on the level of power and that’s where it’s going to be as this age closes. You’re not going to win the battle with theological statements, you’re going to have to demonstrate a power that is greater than the power of the enemy.” This is where I become concerned for those who need physical healing among many other things.
In several of his other teachings, he reminds us that Moses’ rod ate up the magicians’ rods—and he likes to imagine they came out fatter and thicker! (Exodus 7:11-12)
Shalom (nothing missing, nothing broken)
Revelation 22:17.

    Herb Johnston
    February 25, 2022

    “..You are not going to win the battle with theological statements,we are going to have to demonstrate a power that is greater then the power of the enemy”.. .. I have been reading Derek Prince’s work as well… for about 2 months… I have not made it to the particular work that you are referring to- but in reference to that -,I have always thought that no matter how we pray, or how I pray-,if the Lord God Almighty doesn’t move in the power of the Holy Spirit..then nothing will get done.. Would it not be even so much more so.. in these times we are in ..

Victoria Stoll
February 24, 2022

How very vital and important it is for every true child of God to ‘pray without ceasing’ during these turbulent last days. Please ask God to teach you to pray boldly as well as to continue to spread the gospel as the Holy Spirit inspires!

Deborah Howard
February 24, 2022

Dear Lord, I pray all of this above for this country and for the world in Your name sweet Jesus!! Amen

February 24, 2022

If we would be more sins-inclusive in our dialogs about what God hates, FORNICATION, simply, would cause an even greater uproar. And yet, there it is, hetero- or homo-sexual fornication. And sadly, the Church is full of it.
And then there is greed, gossip, slander…need I go on?
Let us be savvy and lovingly truthful in our discourse…and then walk in what we declare and go down standing firm, in His Love.

T Hyde
February 24, 2022

Thank you so much for posting this for prayer! I’m from Finland, and feel horrified and saddened that it has come to this. She is a long-term, well known Christian Democrat politician and a pastor’s wife, who believes that the Bible is the word of God. Clearly this will intimidate Christians to speak freely, whether she is found “guilty” or not. Prayer truly is needed for her, and for the country of Finland.

Evelyn Ruby
February 24, 2022

It looks like you are saying “How do we resist God?”…. by capitalizing the H in Him. The scripture is talking about resisting Satan and his influences. Is this a typo? Very confusing. Prayer is indeed our most effective weapon against SATAN.

Darlene Estlow
February 24, 2022

Father, thank you for awakening us to what is happening. May we be drawn to prayer for these things for that is our only answer. May we praise you for that is engaging in spiritual warfare. May our courts maintain justice and decide in favor of you in the cases. May our legislators, statewide and federal, make laws that agree with your word. Place in your church a desire to pray and worship. We praise you for your work in our nation and for your love of human beings.

February 24, 2022

The title “How do we resist Him …” should have lower case for the H of “Him”, a typo.

    Jessica Renshaw
    February 24, 2022

    >How do we resist Him? By effective, victorious intercession!<
    TYPO NEEDS TO BE CHANGED IN TEXT ABOVE! We do not want to resist "Him" (GOD)– upper case "H"– but 'him" (the devil)–lower case "h."

Barbara Janicki
February 24, 2022

yes, prayer is the preparation, the platform the thing that will guide us and see us through what is to come. We are not that far removed from what is happening in Finland. We are like the frog in the pot, the heat is being turned up gradually here, so we ignore the signs, the subtle loss of freedoms a little at a time, until soon we will find all our speech censored and our religious freedoms gone – the pot will have boiled over. Our brothers and sisters around the world have been dealing with this for decades, but we are ill prepared to stand for our faith under persecution. We prepare as we fight, on our knees – the battle is the Lord’s. Praying for repentance, revival and for people of faith to not shrink back but engage in public life and become involved from local to national level in the life of this country to preserve our constitution and the freedoms it guarantees to all, precisely because we are each one created in God’s image. It is God who can deliver us if we return to Him – He delivered Daniel from the lions and his friends from the furnace. http://www.mtothe5th.wordpress.com

    Jessica Renshaw
    February 24, 2022

    > He delivered Daniel from the lions and his friends from the furnace.<

    My new favorite song is Casting Crowns' Crazy People:
    "Who builds a boat with no clouds in sight?
    Who walks up to a giant and picks a fight?
    Who turns a lion's den into a petting zoo?
    Who can have church in the fiery furnace/ I'll tell you–

    "Crazy people trustin' Jesus
    Followin' Him wherever He leads us
    Kingdom-seekers, walk-by-faith believers
    Here's the church, here's the steeple
    Here's to all God's crazy people.

    Who brings a Bible into a public school?
    Who shares the gospel when the world calls them a fool?
    Who's not afraid to go against the flow?
    Well, cancel me and call me one of those–

    "Cause I'm one of those crazy people trustin' Jesus
    Followin' Him wherever He leads us…

    Who sees the world as a mission field?
    Who talks to Jesus like He's real?
    Who believes the words in red?
    Who says He's comin' back again?

    I'm one of those crazy people trustin' Jesus
    Followin' Him wherever He leads us
    Kingdom-seekers, walk-by-faith believers
    Here's the church, here's the steeple
    Here's to all God's crazy people!"

    THAT'S US!

Bobby Willis
February 24, 2022

So true. It’s past time for Christians to stand up and boldly but lovingly express our faith to a world that is becoming more hostile to Christianity, to be fervent in prayer for a worldwide reawakening and return to God’s truth, and work diligently to bring others to Christ. We must move in haste
because the time is short!

February 24, 2022

I think we should be cautious about saying things like “faith in the God of the Bible is on the decline.”

How is the volume of faith in the world actually measured?

Evil may appear to be on the incline but it also feels like people’s heart for God is on the incline. How those two balance out and which is more prominent sounds like a complex, lifelong research project..

Carole Ann Neve
February 24, 2022

So the LGBTQ community and others are calling Romans 1 bigoted in essence? It is very clear on what these people basically do, reading from the Holy Bible in Romans 1. Should the Lutheran church Missouri Synod be an open minded church in America? They are still trying to work with the heterosexuals’ who are living together before marriage. My husband asked me if I knew of anyone who didn’t have . . . before marriage? I told him one couple, who ended up having a great Christian marriage. I hope the Finnish case gets won by God in the court, while we are still in Christian times such as these.

Ruth A Butros
February 24, 2022

Excellent article but missing one point I believe. The white, usually more affluent churches in the U.S. will have to form significant relationships/unions with the African-American, Latino, African and other churches in this country to effectively fight this battle. As long as those opposing Biblical truth, hating Christ and hating order and rules are able to point at white people speaking that truth, they feel empowered to hate, to prosecute, to imprison those people. There would be a lot of disagreement among many of these folks, were there to be a united church, with basic united doctrine, in this country. It would be much more difficult to jail people many of the woke consider victims, despite the disrespect and arrogance of that assumed victim status by the woke. A united Church could much more effectively counter the spirits of confusion and ignorance that justify the hate of our Savior.

February 24, 2022

Helpful article with standing back looking at the big picture , seeing the consequences of seemingly harmless pieces of societal change.

Bob huseby
February 24, 2022

America is moving swiftly towards this “post Christian” ideology. In fact if you interviewed your local public schools you would discover that our children are already there!! If we cannot turn this tide through our spiritual warfare the next generation won’t even know what we are talking about here with IFA pray. Guys, we must be diligent with our intercession!! We hv t b above the conditions of our humanness. If we have cancer? It doesn’t matter we must pray. If we are being cursed by your spouse ? It doesn’t matter we must pray. If we’re not sure how our bills are gonna get paid? It doesn’t matter we must pray.. PRAYING in intercession is our must, our number one priority. ..
Love y’all so much!!

    Nancy Berkey
    February 24, 2022

    The Bible says we r to pray in all things and to pray without ceasing. ☦🙏


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