This last week I as a history teacher have been preparing my students for their Constitution exam and teaching them about their 1rst Amendment rights, among other things. With this on my mind, I had an interesting confrontation on Friday. Chicago’s cold winter months cause me to have to get creative in my outreach efforts. So I’ve learned to just make reaching out a part of my everyday activities, on my way home from work and while in the marketplace. Because I’m also a shopper and not causing a disturbance but only talking with other customers, I don’t usually have problems. I find most people to be surprisingly open to a spiritual conversations and I rarely have had a problem with store management.. So I was in a clothes store talking with another customer – a man from Mexico who told me he is Jewish but believes in Jesus. I was curious about his beliefs and we were in the middle of an interesting discussion on the Sabbath when the store manager walked up to me and said, loudly, “You can’t do this” “Excuse me?” I asked? “You can’t do what you are doing!” “I can’t talk to other customers?” “No, you can’t!” she said. Now of course, customers talk to each other all the time in stores with no problems, and I suppose I could have claimed my 1rst Amendment rights against discrimination, but there are so many other places I could go instead, and I would rather use my time and energy doing just that, so that’s what I did. I have heard of Christians fighting for prayer in schools and the right to preach in various public places, but I believe the real problem is that as Christians in America we don’t often take advantage of the rights we do have. Our biggest obstacle is not the intolerance of others but our own apathy and laziness. Too many countries in the world don’t have the right of free speech like we have. We think of it as a “right” but it is really a tremendous privilege, one that has been won at great cost. Let’s take advantage of it while we have it!