Skip to comments.Getting Back To Religious Freedom
Posted on 05/24/2014 8:06:17 AM PDT by Kaslin
Talk of religious freedom and limiting it, seems to be everywhere these days. The US Supreme Court affirmed the right recently of townships to say a public prayer before a local meeting, which seems rather like declaring the suns right to rise in the East, if you consult the Founding Fathers writings and their practices.
Meantime, atheist devotees if there is such a thing as a formal devotee to atheism, since that might make them religious followers of non-worship are trying to create the first non-religious religious chaplain in the military. Confusion seems to abound about what restrictions the Founders intended for State involvement in religious activities, and what freedoms they wholly expected never to be infringed by the State.
This confusion extends from prayer at local meetings which a dissenting minority of the US Supreme Court still seems to be confused about to turning military chaplains into atheistic psycho-babblers. It extends from limiting local control over long-established religious prerogatives to widening the natural divide between Church and State. Nevertheless, the essential confusion is simple and resolvable by recourse to the Founders clear intent.
The core confusion that prevails today, whether we talk of religious freedom to erect a public crèche and cross or a communitys decision to demur, is the meaning of two phrases that appear in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights. As Americans, we share a conviction that the Federal government shall never establish a State religion and the parallel conviction that no State shall do so, pursuant to the application of the First Amendment to the States, through the Fourteenth. The operative phrase is this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
At the same time, we share another conviction, namely the freedom to worship The Creator or not to worship as each and every individual American may choose. That religious freedom indeed, the individuals free choice to worship or not, and a communitys ability to defer to the majority in all religious traditions is often traced to another portion of the First Amendment. That operative phrase is the second of that Federal proscription. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
The confusion comes when these two phrases are viewed together, and average Americans as well as currently dissenting Supreme Court justices wonder to themselves, how much free exercise is allowed by an individual or by a collection of individuals who call themselves a majority in any given community, before State involvement is triggered at a level that amounts to the establishment of a religion.
The answer is by reference to several of the Founders not hard to ferret out. The Founders fully expected that free exercise would be just that, free and uninhibited, in no way prohibited by the State. Was religion important to them, indeed was the Christian religion important to most of them? Well, what do you honestly think? This guarantee was the first freedom granted in the first line of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution? Neither individuals nor communities, by a majority vote, would be barred from practicing fully and freely their faith, so long as that faith was practiced in an orderly way, a way that did not otherwise disrupt civil society.
Indeed, barring the establishment of a State religion was expressly intended to prevent devotees of the Church of England from mandating that this one religion become The Church of the new country. But there would be no reason to prioritize this proscription, without also prioritizing the all-important right of unencumbered free exercise by individuals and communities. The bar to establishment of one State religion was also, quite obviously, never meant to bar publicly spoken professions of individual faith, of any faith, in the public square, whether by an individual or by some organ of the media. That is probably one reason why there is such a close juxtaposition of three other rights with the right to free exercise of ones faith. Those other three rights just behind faith in the First Amendment are the rights to free speech, press and assembly.
So, how did the Founders really think about the importance of honoring faith or orderly religion, as they framed this Amendment? The answer is found in their own words. James Madison, often referred to as the Father of the Constitution, writing a full three years before the Constitutional Convention, stated the main intent this way: The religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. To Madison, the object of preventing establishment was to encourage free worship, that is, to leave the field of worship fertile, but able to be sewn with that variant of faith which best suited every man and woman, as their conscience dictated. The no establishment clause was hardly meant to dampen free exercise.
But Madison, arguably the most important chronicler of the Constitutions evolution, went on. This duty [to the Creator] is precedent in both order and time, and in degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. So, as you sit back and think about it, how important do you think the freedom to openly worship was to this Founder?
Perhaps Jefferson is more your style. You may take more comfort in his broader vision of faith than in Madisons. Here then, are his words, written a year before the Constitutional Convention. Thomas Jefferson, revered author of our Declaration of Independence, wrote poignantly of the importance of preserving free exercise of religious faith. He advocated preserving this natural right because Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His Almighty power to do
Did Jefferson want the State to stay out of the business of promoting a single religion? Yes. Did he want that so that the State would not suffocate a free Peoples ability to freely and regularly worship as they pleased? What do you think? He wrote, also: To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical, adding that religious truth draws us to it, given the chance. Thus, this truth is great and will prevail if left to herself since it is the proper protagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons
So were the Founders religious men? Did they raise religious families? Did they say prayers, in public and private? Did they seek to promote free exercise of religion, or instead to defile, dismiss, debar and fence it off from the public square? I think the facts speak for themselves. These were men who gave up everything to make this the first right in the first line of the first Amendment of our Nations Founding Document.
And so what is our job? Just this: To understand their fervent intent, to listen harder for the truth which lies within the natural right they recognized, and gave all to preserve, to see that nothing trumps free exercise, certainly not an appeal to State-sponsored atheism or to banning of free exercise from public places. Finally, we are obliged to hear Jeffersons appeal that we avoid habits of hypocrisy and meanness as well as the modern tendency to interpose and disarm religious truths natural weapons. So, talk of religious freedom is good; limiting that talk is bad. And that constitutes our best dissent to the Supreme Courts recently vocal minority, who would prefer to update Madison and Jefferson. For myself, I think we are in good company.
The Feds only want religious freedom for every faith BUT Christianity. Very obviously assisting in implementing the one world religion by coforting with and supporting agents of Islam (Satanism by another name)
Why would atheists need a chaplain? They claim not to believe in anything, but now they need someone to confide that in?
So atheism is a religion after all.
> “Meantime, atheist devotees if there is such a thing as a formal devotee to atheism, since that might make them religious followers of non-worship are trying to create the first non-religious religious chaplain in the military.
If that’s not evidence of mental illness I don’t know what is.
> Atheist chaplain to dying man, now don’t you worry. Soon you will be dead and cremated and forgotten. Dying man says will my wife let her next husband wear my new golf shoes? Oh no, says the chaplain, he wears a much larger size!
LOL. The title, athiest chaplain, is an oxymoron and makes no sense; in other words, perfect for the leftists...
Religious freedom .... walk to shul on Sabbath without being harassed; walk to church on Sunday morning without being bothered; visit the Buddhist temple without harassment; practice at home with your ‘beautiful corner’.
Harassment? Sharia law with the confidence gained with federal protection of your actions.
I do NOT count street preachers, silent lines of abortion protesters, or those who feel that they must tell other folks of their good news. They are doing as they feel they must, unlike Mohameddanism, that must compel the world to its side, or die in refusal.