Posts Tagged ‘first amendment’

religious freedom

As July the fourth approaches, I am mindful of the freedoms we have in America. Our nation was built on the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Religious freedom is a large part of the liberties we enjoy.

Certain rights were held so highly by our founders that they decided to amend the Constitution and guarantee personal freedoms. The First Amendment would protect our ability to worship. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .”

The Establishment Clause prohibits Congress from creating a national religion. They cannot establish one faith for the people of America. This is how England and her colonies operated prior to the Revolution. Laws were in place to fine people who attended a religious assembly other than the Church of England. It allowed magistrates and authorities to shutter the churches of outlying religious groups. Clergy outside the Church of England could be fined for preaching, expressing their religious views, or sharing the gospel. Even people who allowed a religious assembly in their own home could receive a huge fine.

People during this time had little to no religious freedom. British law required citizens to attend worship services. Practicing your faith in a different manner or practicing a different faith, one not permitted by the government, could be grounds for your arrest, conviction, or execution. Our founders wanted to insure that America would not return to the ways of England by establishing a state church, and punishing people for practicing their individual faith.

The Free Exercise Clause reserves the right of Americans to accept religious beliefs and engage in their individual religious practices. The clause protects not just religious beliefs but actions made on behalf of those beliefs. In short, government should not prohibit people from practicing their faith.

As an American, I enjoy more religious freedom than a majority of people across the globe. I am a blessed man who can worship Christ. As a Christian, I have not been persecuted for my faith or forced to embrace another religion. My country protects me and my personal freedoms. Many Christians do not have the blessings of liberty that I know.

May God continue to bless the freedoms of our land and keep them in place, now and in generations to come.

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Is lying free speech?  Veterans and civilians should have an answer this year.  The US Supreme Court will soon take up the Stolen Valor Act and determine if people can lie about military service.

The Stolen Valor Act was passed to address people who falsely claim military medals and awards.  Since September 11, 2001, the number of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines grew to meet the need of protecting our nation.  Unfortunately, the number of charlatans and swindlers also increased as warriors went off to defend America.  Military service regained much of the popularity and prestige that was lost in prior conflicts.  As veterans came home from Iraq and Afghanistan, more and more people would make false claims about missions, medals, or just being in the military.  In short, it was popular to lie.  You could easily exploit the actions of America’s warriors for your own personal gain.  It made you look good.  It made you stand out in a job interview.  It made you look courageous and full of integrity.  You could immediately become a valiant war veteran with little to no cost.

After the passage of the law, several people were arrested for making false claims about military service.  As appeals and court battles ensued, attorneys claimed that the law needed to be struck down to protect and guarantee “pure free speech” for every citizen.

No matter where you stand on the issue, we should all take time to reflect on the basic claim of the law and the current court case.  Is it okay to lie?

The Bible is pretty clear on the matter.  In fact, the issue was so important that God handed it down to Moses as one of the Ten Commandments.  It’s number nine if you were counting from home.  Exodus 20:1-17 spells out an important code for God’s people.  This would be the fundamental way that they should be set apart from the world and obey God.  While it may not be as popular as jazzing up a resume or getting a pat on the back, pleasing God carries a far greater reward.

As the court battle ebbs and flows, take time to understand the importance of being honest in every aspect of your life.

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