ACLU, apostles, Barack Obama, Bible, Constitution, establishment clause, fascism, First Amendment, Freedom from Religion Foundation, freethinkers, liberty, prohibit, public square, religious freedom, separation of church and state
According to Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States of America:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
The Constitution, the highest law of the land in the United States, forbids Congress, the legislative branch of our government–the branch that writes our laws–from tampering with anyone’s religion. The citizens of this nation have the right to free exercise of their respective religion, whatever it might be. Congress–the law-making branch of our government–is prohibited from restricting them in any way. They cannot establish a State religion, and they cannot prohibit any religion.
The Constitution clearly defines what the rights of the people are, and what the boundaries of government are. The people get liberty, and the government gets limits. This is true concerning religion, and generally everything else in the Constitution.
I am not alone in this interpretation. Our nation’s current president, Barack Obama–a former law professor–has been quoted as saying,
…generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf…
While he seems to think the government being limited by the Constitution is a flaw, I would disagree. However, my intent here is to point out what the Constitution says, not what it ought to say (though I must confess, I like it just as it is).
Here’s the real issue I want to get at: “freedom from religion.” There is no such thing in our Constitution. And yet, we have an organization in the United States called the Freedom from Religion Foundation. As the name implies, this group believes in, and fights in the courts for, “freedom from religion.” This is just silly.
This is silly because, per Amendment I of the Constitution, these “freethinkers” already have every right to practice their religious persuasion, and the government is prohibited from restricting them in any way (and yes, atheism is a religious persuasion, in the sense that atheists and agnostics have an opinion about religion, even if they don’t practice any religion). But this isn’t good enough! These people also think that per the “separation of Church and State,” the government is obligated to protect them from religion. However, according to Amendment I of the Constitution, this is just the sort of thing government is not allowed to do. The government is not allowed to prohibit the free exercise of religion.
Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, and so it stands to reason that Congressmen, both Representatives and Senators, are also free to practice religion. They open congressional sessions with prayer.
Fire departments, police departments, and units in the Armed Forces have chaplains.
Clearly, “separation of Church and State” does not mean restrictions on religion in the public square. It only means that a State religion cannot be established, and that religious expression cannot be prohibited in any way.
So where did this notion of “freedom from religion” come from? Certainly not the Constitution. I have to point out that the overwhelming majority of atheists and agnostics that I have met would agree with me. They have no wish to prevent me from practicing Christianity, and only ask that they not be prevented from expressing antitheism either. A small, but vocal, minority–backed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the ACLU, and similar groups–wants to the government to forcibly remove any trace of religion from the public square.
Though they call themselves “freethinkers,” the fact of the matter is, they are antitheist fascists.
I will not be silenced. While I greatly appreciate that the establishment clause of the Constitution endorses freedom of religion, I do not need a piece of paper grant me freedom of religion. My liberty comes from Almighty God!
My answer to antitheist fascists is the same answer given by the Apostles to those who wished to silence them:
We must obey God rather than men.