August 18, 2008

1st Amendment

I've noticed some anti-religious people seem to be confused about the 1st Amendment. Here's what it says-

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.

Somehow, some people take this to mean that absolutely no member of the government is ever, ever allowed to talk about their personal religious beliefs. The recent Saddleback forum has some of these people screeching about how the 1st Amendment and separation of church and state are being violated.

They just like to forget the part that protects "the free exercise thereof" I suppose.

They also like to hold up Thomas Jefferson as the patron Saint (pun intended) of atheism and extreme anti-religious nuttery. Of course, they're painfully ignorant about, um, the truth. In the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Jefferson opens by proclaiming "Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free..." Oh my. Did he just mention God? In a government document?

Jefferson goes on to write that-

no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities

Jefferson felt so strongly about this piece of legislature that he instructed it to be listed as one of three accomplishments on his epitaph.

The 1st Amendment quite clearly does not prohibit any mention of religion, nor frank and public discussion of personal religious beliefs.

Anyone who thinks otherwise should quit drinking the ACLU kool-aid.


Anne Marie said...

Good Point. I've always wondered when freedom OF religion morphed into freedom FROM religion. I don't believe it's by way of an amendment, must be by way of the media!

Katie said...

I'm not sure exactly when that happened, either. Of course I'm totally in favor of no state religion and not forcing anyone to believe anything, but there's a huge leap from that and from the belief that some hardcore atheists have, thinking they have some inalienable right to live their lives totally free of any exposure at all to religion. Government officials aren't exempt from the Constitution, they have just as much right to freely express their religion (or lack of religious belief) as the rest of us.