Editor’s note: Religion plays an important role in our communities. Regardless what naysayers proclaim, faith in God is an integral part in the lives of many. Pastor Joel Shackelford has graciously consented to write a column of religion, faith and values in what the News Leader intends will become a weekly feature. It is also the hope of the newspaper that other religious leaders will also take up the mantle and become contributors on a rotating basis, and we reach out to you of all faiths. If you are interested, please contact Managing Editor Steve Steiner at: 


Who is the author of liberty? God or government? The word of God gives us clear understanding that God is the author of liberty.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17) The United States Declaration of Independence and its Constitution has codified this principle of individual freedom to every citizen.

Beginning principles

“In the beginning God created the heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1) The beginning of freedom is recognizing God is the author and creator of all life, time and space; and not man. When man or government is the genesis of governance they will use laws and regulations to impart to themselves power and wealth. God does not do that. He has given man free will to choose to accept him or not. “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” US Declaration of Independence.

“We the People”

The power of governance was given to man in Genesis 1:28: “And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over every living thing.” In Genesis 9:1-9: Noah was reminded once again about the importance of governing. The Old Testament is a history of Governments both good and bad: Tyrants, Dictators, Good Kings, Bad Kings; all are given for us to learn from. Our founding fathers used the information from history and biblical principles to write our founding documents to preserve for us our freedoms.

“Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord...” (Psalm 33:12)

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union ... and secure the blessings of liberty, ordain and establish this Constitution for...” The blessings for our nation are dependent on individual citizens and governors to declare their dependence on God. 

Only when each person is accountable to God will they live their lives for others; as by our example Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28) We are a thankful nation for the work of our military; for they put in practice this self sacrifice for our liberty. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

God has given to us a great stewardship and a great blessing by our founding fathers in the writing of our great Constitution. May we hold our freedom dear and protect it from all enemies from without and within. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

May God bless America!

Pastor Joel Shackelford is the spiritual leader at Faith Baptist Church, 14745 Johns Lake Road, Clermont. Call: 407-654-8989.

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