President of National Association of Evangelicals Expresses Concern over Erosion of Religious Freedom

September 9, 2006

Source: Religion News Service

On September 8, 2006 Religion News Service reported, "National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard warned Friday that religious freedom is in danger of being greatly reduced in this country.

'I think right now we're in the beginning stages of the erosion of freedom of religion in the United States,' he told more than 200 people gathered for the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association.

'The challenges are building for more and more limitation of religious speech.' Haggard, 50, the senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., cited personal examples in which he had spoken out on public issues and had been criticized for doing so as a member of the clergy. He also cited his organization's intervention in a lawsuit filed by Air Force veteran Mikey Weinstein, who wants to halt what he calls unconstitutional evangelistic practices within the Air Force.

'If this lawsuit prevails, we'll have increased government supervision of religious speech,' Haggard said.

Weinstein said Haggard has mischaracterized his suit, which he says aims to protect men and women in uniform and on duty from being pressured to change their faith.

'I think Ted Haggard is the Prince of Darkness when it comes to religious freedom,' said Weinstein, reached by phone in Albuquerque, N.M.

'He's the one who's really trying to suppress religious freedom by ensuring that one particular biblical worldview becomes the official biblical worldview of the U.S. government, and particularly the Department of Defense.'

Haggard warned that if Weinstein's suit prevails, government officials will have the power to censor or monitor religious speech by chaplains or between service members -- a change that would result in America's first 'established church.'"