Sunday, September 11, 2016
What is this thing called freedom of religion?
Clinton wrote: As Americans, we hold fast to the belief that everyone has the right to worship however he or she sees fit. The fact is that the freedom of religion is not a freedom merely to worship as one sees fit or even to believe as one sees fit (as if thoughts could be constrained) but to practice the faith according to the tenets of that faith without constraint or abridgement of rights. This freedom is not limited to the worship facility or to the mind but protects the belief lived out in the public square and the right to speak from the vantage point of faith to the issues facing our nation and our culture.
Clinton wrote: We stood up for these oppressed communities because Americans know that democracy ceases to exist when a leader or ruling faction can impose a particular faith on everyone else. The freedom of religion is not merely the freedom from the imposition of one faith over another but it also the freedom to protect the right of the religious against the imposition of laws and constraining the free exercise of that religion. The government has done more in the last 5-6 years to constrain religious freedom and to impose laws upon the religious than ever before in its history. One glaring example is the insistence that only churches can be except from the abortion and birth control mandates of Obamacare. Not religious institutions or agencies or colleges or universities and certainly not the individual religious themselves but ONLY churches. If that does not limit the freedom of religion, then what does? Remember the freedom of religion was not enshrined for the protection of church structures alone but for the rights of the individual to believe, worship, pray, and practice the faith without constraint from the government and without the government choosing one religion as "official" against another.
The end result of such a dangerous redefinition of religious freedom is that it allows the majority or the government to silence the public speech and actions of the religious and to be an enemy of religion as long as it appears to be an equal enemy of all religions. This was not the intent nor is it the manner in which our forefathers enshrined a religious freedom previously unknown and without guarantee to a people. This is what we are concerned about. Religious freedom is more than merely about what we think in our minds, pray in our hearts, or do behind the closed doors of our churches. Somebody needs to remind all our politicians about this and perhaps we as a nation need some schooling in religious liberty as well.
Sunday morning does need protection but so does Monday through Saturday. Otherwise we have the cruelest imposition against religion of all -- one that suggests you can believe however you want but it has no place influencing how you act or what you say outside of church.