Beside the Holm Oak Tree - Inspirations from the Spirit on my journey to find the narrow gate
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Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Government

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

There has been a lot of attention lately given to the role of the government and its dictates that affect the free practice of our faith. The first amendment of the constitution is frequently misunderstood and believed to have a clause that states there shall be a separation of church and state. Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that. The first amendment is as follows:

 

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.

 

So, as far as religion is concerned, the amendment is restricting the government from making laws that would require the people to follow a particular religion. The second part is also interesting in that it prohibits the government from interfering with the free exercise of whatever religion the people choose. So, the government can’t choose a religion for us and it can’t interfere with how we practice the religion we choose for ourselves.

The recent HHS mandate has clearly violated the second part of the first amendment. It requires all employers, including the Catholic Church to provide contraceptive services, sterility procedures and abortion services to its employees. That is definitely interfering with a person’s right to free exercise of their religion. Catholics would be forced to provide these services even though they are against the faith.  President Obama later issued a clause that said the Catholic Church wouldn’t have to provide them, but the insurance company they contracted with would have to provide the services.  I guess in their mind that makes it OK. “I won’t do something, but I will pay someone else to do it, so it doesn’t really count.”  Sounds like playground logic.

 Furthermore, it makes it impossible for Catholics who are true to their faith to own or work for insurance companies, since they will be required to provide services for others for sterilizations, abortions and contraceptives.

 Where does this end? Religious liberty is at stake. Other Catholic views are already being identified as bigotry or “hate crimes”. Will we be not only persecuted, but prosecuted for our beliefs?  Are you ready to really stand up for your beliefs?

 In one of my first blogs, I wrote about prayer in public schools. I am not in favor of it. I sure it would make students and school more prayerful, but I don’t want the government in any way involved with my faith. I may sound cynical, but I don’t trust the politicians to do what’s right.

 Here are two recent examples of situations that have involved faith and public schools:

 A high school choir from Grand Junction, CO was practicing for a program that included an Islamic song entitled “Zikr” that has a phrase that translates as “There is no truth except Allah”. When one of students objected, he was told the song was approved because the program included other religious songs from other faiths. Rather than sing that acclamation he choose to quit the choir. I wonder if there would have been a similar response if the song had been, “To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King” and a non-Christian student had objected?

In another instance, a second grade student from a Sheboygan, Wisconsin elementary school was prohibited from distributing valentines because they contained a religious message. The message said Jesus Loves You and included the verse from John 3:16. The school had a policy against distributing religious materials. I guess the school really saved those students from such a dangerous message.

The government must not be allowed to restrict or control our religious liberty whether it is in the work place, our schools or our daily lives. We must be vigilant in the defense of our faith.