FREEDOM of RELIGION:
Who can argue that this issue isn’t at the heart of our nations guaranteed freedoms? Even though the word is only used twice in the Constitution with amendments, our founding fathers established a democracy that respected religious freedom. However, it is true that the Constitution is a religiously neutral, secular, political document. And yet hordes of people are scared to death of it.
This is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parts of the Constitution. Would it surprise you to know that nowhere in the Constitution are the words, “separation of church and state”? The 1st Amendment regarding this issue relates to a prohibition on the government from promoting one religion over another. The specific language is: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. The Supreme Court has modified this constitutional guarantee over the years with judgments that, I believe, have taken the intent of the founding fathers and perverted it; creating this idea of separation of church and state (see my blog on the Justice System in subsequent posts).
When President Dwight Eisenhower petitioned Congress to change our Pledge of Allegiance to include the phrase, “under God”, the outcry from “separationists” was mild compared to later challenges attempting to get it removed. Ironically, the Supreme Court never ruled on the constitutionality of this, but only that a noncustodial parent did not have standing in federal court to allege that his child's school violated the Establishment Clause by leading students in the recital of the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Time will tell if others might not challenge it.
Bottom line, having a Crèche on the front lawn of the county courthouse during the Christmas season is NOT, in my opinion, a violation of the Establishment Clause. First of all, Congress was not involved. Second, no law was passed requiring it to be there. And, thirdly, having it there doesn’t prohibit anyone else from the free exercise of their personal religious practice or lack thereof. This is the highest form of “political correctness” that has so many people furious and contributed to the backlash which put a marginally qualified individual in the presidency. So which would you rather have? A Crèche or a Trump?
O.K., so I just offended someone didn’t I? Trump fans calm down. Separationists, be cool. The problem is we also have a thing in this great nation of ours called:
FREEDOM of SPEECH:
This is also one of our most cherished liberties. This guarantee under the 1st Amendment of our Constitution makes our society the envy of the world. It gives every citizen the right to articulate their position or opinion on anything, at any time and any place without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction, subject only to the “harm principle”. This principle says that the only way freedom of speech can be impinged is if it prevents a fellow citizen from enjoying the same right. Unfortunately, in our society today, this principle is being used to attack our constitutionally-mandated freedom of speech.
Today, on college campuses across the country and other public places, “safe zones” are being created. These are specific areas where an individual or a group can exercise their freedom of speech but they must remain inside those boundaries so as not to offend someone else or cause anxiety. The concern is for political and social “correctness” to be maintained and this is a direct and onerous assault on our 1st Amendment right. Actions like these and others have caused a monumental backlash in our country. So much of a backlash that a person with little significant qualifications got himself elected President by capitalizing on people who are sick of “correctness”. O.K., Trump fans, NOW you can go crazy.
Now, I am not saying I am for abusing others with our speech. With the right to freedom of speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely and cause no harm (and this includes bullying), but that, in no way, should be used as an excuse to allow infringement.
The courts will eventually determine whether these “safe zones” and other efforts to squash freedom of speech are unconstitutional. In the meantime, I, for one, will relish my freedom, as demonstrated here.
As usual, and in the spirit of free speech, I welcome your comments: