When asked his opinion of the current state of religious freedom in the United States, Lankford, who also serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, expressed deep concern and said that this is a "really odd season" for Christians.
"Religious liberty and religious freedom and the free expression of your faith has been a given throughout American history. Now for some reason, people in our country and this cultural time are becoming afraid of faith and afraid of people of faith," Lankford said.
Amid growing brazenness of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and others who advocate for an extreme level of separation of church and state and a push for religion to be on the outskirts of society, Lankford commented on the fact that many Americans today face personal and even legal backlash for choosing to live out their faith at work, in school, and just about anywhere outside their home or church.
"[There is] this belief that somehow [in] the separation of church and state coming from another letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote — clearly not in our Constitution, but another letter that he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association — [that there must be] this wall of separation," Lankford said. "People are trying to put that up and say, 'If you are going to have faith, that is fine to have it but you need to have it in your church, by yourself, with your family. Don't bring it to your work. Don't bring it out in conversation. Clearly, don't bring it out in the public arena.'"
Lankford further explained that examining the words of the Founding Fathers in context reveals that they never intended for this type of separation we see today.
"That was never the intention," Lankford stated. "We have always been a nation that you can not only have a faith but you can live your faith and that is dwindling away at this point as people are becoming afraid of people of faith."
"Why would we not allow people of faith to participate," Lankford continued. "There have been earth-shattering individuals like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who brought his faith into the public arena and challenged America by saying, 'Hate doesn't overcome faith, love does.' Where did he get that? He got that from Scripture and from his own personal faith. And that bubbled out and has transformed our culture and we are all grateful for that. We should continue to allow people of faith to live out the expression of their faith and not be afraid of that."
Another problem Lankford noted takes place within the walls of the church and the Christian home itself: many professing Christians in the U.S. are too afraid to live out their faith outside of Sunday mornings.
"One of the challenges that I talk to people about within the church is not that the church is not able to live the faith, it's that individuals within the church are not truly living their faith outside of the church," Lankford lamented. "The more that we practice integrity and practice the basic tenets of our faith, whether we are at home or in our business or whether we are in recreation, we show a constituency of that faith."
"People don't see one person at church and another at the business, but they really see faith lived out and that's what makes a difference," he continued. "I poke people often and say, 'If church and faith is only something you do on weekends, that is not a faith. That is a hobby. A hobby is something you do on weekends."
View the entire special episode of Washington Watch in the video below: