«Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right(Proverbs 16:13).
At the beginning of 1517, the Protestant Reformation had a special impact on matters of religious freedom. Europe became a field of controversy surrounding the Christian religion. In 1536, John Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion. In 1559, the first national Synod of Reformed Churches in France was held in Paris. However, the verbal struggles between Catholics and Protestants went on to the battlefields. In January 1562, the edict of Saint-Germain imposed rules of religious coexistence and, in the month of March, the massacre of Wassy (France) occurred. In 1572, on the occasion of the festivities of the marriage of the Huguenot Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Margaret of Valois, the massacre of St. Bartholomew happened. Freedom of thought became a real risk.
On April 30, 1598, Henry IV, king of France, issued a historical law, known as the Edict of Nantes, which ended with a series of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants carried out between 1562 and 1598. The decree guaranteed freedom of conscience for the Huguenots (Protestants) throughout France. They were allowed to build churches and conduct religious services in different towns and suburbs of any city, except the episcopal and archiepiscopal cities (Paris, Toulouse, Lyon, and Dijon), in royal residences, or within a five-mile radius around Paris. The noble Huguenots were authorized to perform religious services in their homes, the faithful were granted civil rights and opportunities to access official positions. Also, four universities (Montauban, Montpellier, Sedan, and Saumur) were authorized to be Huguenots.
In addition, a special court was established, composed of ten Catholics and six Protestants, called Chambre de I’Edit (Chamber of the Edict) for the protection of the Huguenots in the Parliament of Paris. Subsidiary chambers were also formed in the parliaments of the province. And although it would be revoked in 1685 by Louis XlV’s Edict of Fontainebleau, the Edict of Nantes has been recorded as one of the greatest advances for freedom of conscience in the history of religion.
Do you realize that there has not always been freedom to read the Bible, go to church, or celebrate a baptism? What for you today is something normal, for others it represented years of struggle and suffering. Believe it or not, the freedoms we enjoy today are very feeble and can be lost at any time. That is why we have to take advantage of all the opportunities to share Christ with others today.