During this holiday season, with attacks on religion (Christian ones in particular) from groups like Military Religious Freedom Foundation, or MRFF, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or FFRF, increasing, it seems like a good time to address this.
To be clear, I say “holiday season” because this time of year covers multiple holidays, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year!
However, these organizations and the people who support them are demanding the courts and the government restrict and deny the freedoms of American citizens to practice their religions openly, including the displays of religious symbolism!
This is a direct and clear violation of the Constitution!
For too long we have been misled and lied to with concepts, interpretations and ideals that weaken not just our religious freedom but, all our freedoms.
The concept that establishment means allowing prayer, symbols or books somehow creates a government religion. The ideal that government cannot “endorse” religion. And the interpretation that a simple solitary prayer on a football field promotes a government sponsored religion. We have been told all of this for so long, many believe it to be true. Even the courts. And that is a major danger.
The Constitution is not, contrary to popular opinion, open for interpretation. It can’t be or it is worthless. That is why it was created, to be amended.
And the first amendment was very clearly written. The first words of it are Congress shall make no law. Those three words apply to the entire amendment. Without exception.
The problem we have today is that we commonly use these words a bit differently than 230 years ago. So crack a dictionary when you read it. Look up words like “respecting” and “abridge,” even the words “an” and “law.”
Nowhere in the first amendment are the people that make up our government restricted from their rights. They are U.S. citizens just like the rest of us. And since no exemption was made for them as individuals because of their employment status, then establishment means just that, establishing a national religion by law, nothing more.
But many will now say that government cannot endorse a religion. Another common but very wrong interpretation. Government must endorse religions. Oh, yes they must.
Let me ask you this.
How do the courts know which religious practices are covered by the constitution? The answer is simple: The government has a list of over 200 approved, recognized and, thereby, endorsed religions. If not, then any behavior could be justified by claiming freedom of religion. Murder, rape, molestation, kidnapping, coercion and brainwashing, all would be perfectly legal under our religious freedoms simply by claiming it to be part of your religion.
So, yes, government must and does endorse religions.
Again contradicting the claim that the establishment clause prevents endorsement.
By restricting government employees’ free practice, including prayer, symbols and books, we have opened the door for more restriction (abridgment) curtailing of any right. Next they can apply it to government contractors. We curtail (abridge) the display of religious symbols the same way. They mustn’t be displayed on government property. They can’t be seen there. But if they can’t been seen there, then they shouldn’t be seen from there either!
Ridiculous? Not really. Groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation make their intent clear. And they are using a misguided interpretation of our Constitution to weaken our freedom, including religious speech. And If one form of speech can be curtailed, then all can. And the press will not be exempt either.
No, a teacher, military officer, etc. cannot require you to pray, attend services or believe as they do, that would be law. However, they can invite you to services, even suggest it. They can pray openly, they can display the symbols of their faith, because above all else they are U.S. citizens and that is a guaranteed right for us all! And if we allow the curtailing of one part of the first amendment then we give up all of the amendment.
So, with that, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.
Patrick Adams of Wausau
Editor’s note: The views of our readers and guest columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email us at email@example.com or mail letters to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8; Wausau, WI 54403.