1st Amendment Under Attack in America

Friday, June 28, 2013
posted by elizabeth @ 2:55 PM

The U.S. Constitution is under assault, particularly the First Amendment.  It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 Government and our society have been successful, and rightfully so, at respecting the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  It protects against the government from establishing a religion.  Part of what influenced James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” and the Founding Fathers to include the Establishment Clause was an effort to prevent a state church from being established, the likes of which they opposed in the Church of England.

 In an overzealous effort to respect the Establishment Clause, our government and our society are trampling on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  It protects the right of citizens to practice any religious belief.  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  This means we all have the right to practice no religion or practice our religion without government restrictions.   No one should be forced not to or to practice a religion.   

One example of how government is assaulting the Free Exercise Clause occurred recently.  Under pressure, or what in reality was a consulting role to the military, Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the military declared that members of the service are not allowed to share their faith.   Recall Mr. Weinstein’s comments that people who share the Christian Gospel are “enemies of the Constitution.”  Additionally, he told Fox News, “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”  Perhaps Mr. Weinstein has no recollection of history and how Christianity, and religion in general, have made significant, positive contributions to humanity.   Because space is limited, I cannot list the thousands of ways religion has helped society.

 Although the military has revised the policy, the way it reads is still an assault on religious freedom and creates a chilling precedent.  It states that “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”  There is no difference between evangelizing and proselytization.   This is a failed attempt at respect for free exercise of religion with no change in policy.  The policy is an abomination and assaults the Free Exercise Clause. 

 Two other incidents have occurred that assault religious freedom.  An official in the military accused evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics of being “religious extremists.”   Since when is it the place of a military officer to make that determination.

 In another incident, the military blocked service members from accessing the website of the Southern Baptist Convention.  When service members attempted access the site the response was “The site you have requested has been blocked by Team CONUS (C-TNOSC/RCERT-CONUS) due to hostile content.”  These are the tactics that dictators and brutal regimes, like those in hot beds of freedom such as Iran use to oppress free speech and religion.  In this case, those perpetrating this activity are “enemies of the Constitution.”

 The religious freedom we have in the U.S. is not just for Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans and Jews.  As with other parts of the First Amendment, such as freedom of speech and the press, it is an essential part of what makes up the fabric of this country and our civil liberties.  The exercise of religious freedom is not only protected by the First Amendment, it is also protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.  

 Free exercise of religion is an inalienable right.  The assault not just on religious freedom, it is an assault on freedom of speech and the press.  I challenge those in the media and all who value our precious freedom of speech to be aware.  I will fight to protect the First Amendment for all people whether or not my religious, political or personal views agree with theirs.

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