Explaining “Freedom of Religion” for Those Who Seem Unable to Understand What it Means

1503613_10152130510357489_1882307756_nIn this country, there are very few individuals who can rightfully call themselves “Constitutional scholars.”  Sure, there are people who know a decent amount about our Constitution, but being an “expert” on a subject is a completely different thing.

But wow, when it comes to politics, it seems everyone suddenly becomes an expert on the Constitution.

As for myself, I’ve never pretended to be an expert on our Constitution.  I’ve read over it a few times and often use basic common sense when assessing how it translates into our modern society.  After all, it was written in the late-1700’s.  Society is a little different now than it was then.

That being said, there are some areas of the Constitution that are pretty straight forward.  Our “freedom of religion” right found within the First Amendment is one of those pretty straight forward rights.  Well, at least to me it is.

There’s not really a whole lot to interpret:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

If our Founding Fathers had meant for “freedom of religion” to mean only Christianity, I’m pretty sure that would have been specified.

But it wasn’t.  In fact, the word “Christianity” is found nowhere in our Constitution.  Not even once.

The Founding Fathers were smart about this.  They kept religion out of government.  Just look at a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote concerning this very issue (emphasis mine):

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802

Or the Treaty of Tripoli, written by John Adams:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..”

It’s pretty simple.  Government and religion are to remain separate.

See, “freedom of religion” means that in your personal life you are free to practice whatever religion you’d like.  As an American, if you want to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or follow no religion at all — you’re free to do so!  Awesome, isn’t it?

Heck, like I’ve said before, you can subscribe to a new religion every single day of the week if you want.  This country isn’t allowed to establish laws based on any form of an establishment of religion.  Americans can practice their religion every waking moment they feel like doing so within their private homes or religious places of worship.

But what you can’t do, and what conservatives constantly try to do, is force your personal religious views on other people.  See, this is where conservatives don’t understand what “freedom of religion” means.

What it does protect is that privately you can practice whatever religion you want.  What it does not protect is a person’s attempt to force their personal religious views on others because they happen to disagree with them.  In fact, by doing so, that’s actually the opposite of the freedom of religion.

In fact, any law based on religious beliefs is actually a violation of the First Amendment.

This isn’t rocket science.

Let me explain it like this on an issue such as homosexuality.  If, as a Christian, I believe homosexuality to not be immoral, I’m right.  Just as someone who calls themselves a Christian, yet believes homosexuality to be a sin, is right as well.  See, that’s freedom of religion.  We might disagree with one another about what “Christianity” is, but when it comes to someone’s personal faith — there are really no right or wrong answers.

Now, if that person wants to tell someone else that they must follow their definition of what Christianity is by supporting laws which force them to do so, that’s a violation of the First Amendment.

Preventing someone from violating another person’s rights isn’t an attack on their rights — it’s preventing them from violating someone else’s rights.

These people are still free to believe however they want (no matter how ignorant those beliefs might be), they’re just not allowed to force others to follow the same “moral code” they claim to live by.

Do you see why religion and government should be kept separate?  It’s so much easier to say, “If you give one person a right protected by law, everyone should have that same right,” as opposed to trying to base laws on religious views that millions within the same faith can’t even agree upon — much less those of a different faith or no faith at all.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Jim Bean

    And if the founding fathers had intended for freedom of religion to include freedom ‘from’ religion, I’m sure they the would specified that as well. There are no shortage of people in secular society who find homosexuality objectionable and there were plenty who regarded it as abnormal before there was such thing as Christianity To postulate that Christianity (or religion for that matter) is the sole source of it is unhelpful.

    • Gary Menten

      Absurd. Freedom of religion is freedom from religion as well. It cannot be otherwise, and the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment not only forbids government from promoting one religion against another, but also forbids it promoting religion against non-religion.

      • adamj2013

        Christians don’t understand that. They WANT the government to view religious people as better and deserving of more rights than non-religious people.

        They are losing their automatic place at the front of the line and they are not happy about it.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        you are half right— they want the (OUR) Govt to view THEIRS–and ONLY theirs- religion as the springboard for all-encompassing rights. Praise jeeesus!!!! Tax free of course

    • Dan

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, ………………………or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
      Whadda you know? The founding fathers included freedom FROM religion PRIOR to freedom OF religion….. And ya know….. there is a damn good reason it is the first right granted in our Bill Of Rights!

      • Jim Bean

        You typed it but you didn’t read it. “or prohibiting the free exercise there of.” When you tell a group of people working at a government office, for example, that they can’t display a religious symbol for the holiday if they want to (because you some how twist it from ‘being permitted’ into being ‘a government declaration’) you are prohibiting their free exercise there of not to mention insulting everyone’s intelligence. You don’t agree, I know.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        Im also enjoying how everyone—UMM: no one– agrees with ya

      • Daniel

        Jimmbo gets a tad circular in his logic. Freedom for good Christian soldiers to oppress and harass others. Would the same standard apply if a majority muslim group requires the hijab in their town? Its their faith right?

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        I know that he truly knows; but is old/retired/temulent and WILL NOT acquiesce to the facts
        “testarudo” is what he is in espanol

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      please please explain to the southern white trash regressive CHRISTIANS that giving everyone ELSE the rights that the CHRISTIAN white trash has is NOT TAKING THE RIGHTS FROM THE RIGHTWING IDIOTS– it is called equality. It is called Liberty. it is called ” the pursuit of happiness” –why is it IN THIS COUNTRY the CHRISTIANS on the right are the ONLY ONES CRYING ABOUT OTHERS NOT BEING ‘QUALIFIED” ( according to THEIR outdated book) to practice THEIR religion ? I don’t see moslems or jews or Taoists bitching about the crap the CHRISTIAN “right” cries about

      • Jim Bean

        I see you made bail. Welcome back.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        so sorry crybaby— but its affirming 2 see U still have no true platform 2 stand upon– the “FOUNDING FATHERS”–thozse americans who FOX “news” claims to osculate with nightly— KNEW that REEEE-LIGION is bullshit. Evidently white trash crybaby regressive “CHRISTIANS ” forget that—- hows the tea party whig prospects? atrophy is THEIR “TROPHY”

  • sapereaudeprime

    The Founding Fathers were children of the Enlightenment, and some of their grandparents had personal experience with the tail end of the Reformation. They wanted no part of the toxins that religion brings in its train. Europe had been nearly destroyed barely a century earlier, in the wars between Protestants and Catholics. The Inquisition still operated in the Iberian Peninsula when the Founding Fathers were born. They wanted no part of religious dogma.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      FOX “news” will now be classifying adams and Jefferson as secular communists NOT in the better interests of “AMERICA” circa 2013

    • Kayci Glass

      Hi, I just graduated college and I really miss the research I used to do. I have read several very smart, thoughtful and eloquent comments you’ve made and I was wondering if you have written articles or we could connect on Facebook? I love learning and teaching others who are, basically, clueless. I don’t have a lot of progressive, forward thinking friends, and my religious, conservative friends are only interested in appeals to emotions. Thank goodness science, empirical evidence and fact-based journalism is on my side. Our side.

      • sapereaudeprime

        What is your Facebook name?

      • LadyFace

        Kayci Glass @gmail.com

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  • Rick

    Once again someone made an attempt to take what is going on and try to twist it in a way that was a benefit To there own cause or point of attack. The point that Christians are Trying to make is they DO have the freedom of religion and the government Should not be making laws restricting the Practice of ones Freedom to Pray in Public places Because others might Find it offensive. A persons has the right to believe what they want and if a school teacher or any other person or persons wants to practice that regardless of what religion it may be then that is there Right and it should not be infringed by anyone at anytime except to when it be deemed hazardous to another or will cause harm to another ,further more one has the right to not perform religious acts to which they do not believe or wish to participate in .The Reason Many people get upset is because of the change in tradition that has been in this country for many years such as in god we trust and one nation under god those were all created at the beginning of the united state and also should not be infringed apron .So often some one says that should be changed because I don’t wanna say one nation under god well then don’t but you don’t have the right to tell me I cant say it in a public place if that’s how I choose nor should I have to have money that goes against my belied that In god we trust should be there so get over it and focus on a real issue like starving kids drug problems something worth wile rather then trying so hard to convince the united states that you have the right to not believe in the Christian faith its simple that’s your right and mine to believe. If I were to say it is offensive to a women to cover her face with a vial does that mean that you should no longer be able to do so in public be cause it might offend some one in closing Fight Poverty and rape and crime not god then talk to me about whos religion is correct about what

    • Joe

      “In God We Trust” wasn’t the national motto until 1956. The pledge didn’t exist until the late 1800s and didn’t mention god until 1954. Hardly works of the founding fathers. The point being traditions change

      • Peter Simatos

        More facts, I see a pattern developing here. Uninformed christians trying to rewrite history

      • And ignoring spell check in the process. 😉
        There’s apparently no limit to the things they don’t know…

    • 2Smart2bGOP

      WHO is being kept from praying in public? I can’t think of a single incidence of someone being ticketed or arrested for praying in public. Also, a school teacher certainly has every right to practice whatever religion they want, like everybody else. They do NOT, however, have the right to teach what THEY believe to students who belong to families that believe differently. Religion does not belong in our schools, period. It belongs in your heart. Period. Your whole post is a mashed up word salad.

      • Gary Menten

        And in any case, in The Sermon On The Mount, Christ is alleged to have told his followers that praying in public is for hypocrites.

        Matthew 6:5-6

        “5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they
        love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that
        they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their
        reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and
        pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret
        will reward you.”

      • xpatYankeeCurmudgeon

        Keep the Left’s secular quasi-religion of a supposedly scientifically-endorsed egalitarianism out of our schools as well.

    • Michael Frei

      sorry but you have a flaw in your ideals, one nation and in god we trust were added during ww2. and you are right you have a right to pray, you do not however have a right to bring your religious services, beliefs and paraphernalia into the public sphere. aas the constitution and the founding fathers intimated in their letters, that the worship was to be done in private. and on the subject of feeding the hungry and helping the poor, religion is right their fighting against those things when they don’t get their way. I.E. catholic charities stopping all funding in Washington d.c if they pass marriage equality, in Illinois catholic charities shut down all foster care putting 75000 children at risk because Illinois passed marriage equality. in Kansas and Virginia Baptist groups refused money from atheist groups to help feed the poor on thanksgiving and Christmas. those groups did not want publicity just wanted to help those churches told them they would rather feed fewer people than take their money. so please, religion guides and tries to control many things it needs to stay out of. believe what you want but it stays inside you, not in your work place, not in a public park and not on court house steps.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      freedom of INDIVIDUAL— with man and his “creator”–religion. NOT some scumbag VOODOO superstition which has more money and bullies legislatures into what THEY want us to “believe” You want 2 pray to JEEESUS or BUDDHA or MOHAMMED or ZUANGHI or some bone nosed figurine Im ok with that————– but when U TELL me –and others– that YOUR way is the ONLY way NOW we have a serious problem. NO RELIGION IS “correct”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, GOD is TOO BIG to be defined by a finite creature known as “man”

    • Tim Howe

      Rick, check your history.

      “One nation, indivisible” were words drafted in 1892, not 1776. “under god” was inserted by act of Congress, during the Red Scare, in 1954.

      The original Motto of the United States was “E Pluribus, Unum”: “Out of Many, One”. “In God We Trust” was adopted as the Motto in 1956, again, to say something (I’m not sure what) to The Commies.

      So, no, not from the “beginning” of the United States.

      Finally, no one is saying you can’t pray wherever and whenever you want, public places included. What we’re saying is that the State cannot *compel* anyone to make a public profession of Piety, nor spend State funds in the effort to do so. That’s all. Pray away!

  • George

    This is close, very close. “Marriage” is a Religious Ceremony that is recognized…not “allowed” by the State Governments. The Government of The United States was Founded on the Principle of a “Creator” and our “Inalienable Rights”, not granted to us by a “King” who was the Head of the State Church. This is the Separation of Church and State. The “Government” cannot force any Religion to marry people they do not want to marry. If the Government wants to allow any people/or group of people to join together in something other than “Holy Matrimony” than that is up to the People of the individual Sovereign States. Hijacking a “Religious Ceremony” should not be allowed. Religion and The Government are to be separate.

    • Joe

      And that is exactly what people wanting legal recognition of gay marriage want. The secular governments of the country to recognize their unions equally as they do any other unions. The secular govts have piggybacked the term marriage off the religious ceremonies of past but every religion has their own religious rules of acceptance with them. The secular government differentiated themselves from the religious aspects by writing laws and regulation into what the government recognizes as marriage, divorce, inheritance rules, etc. Once that occurred it became a secular practice and recognition outside of religion. No one (reasonable) is wanting to force any religious entity to perform or even recognize gay marriage in any sense. Not only are there plenty of religious entities that do so already, they don’t want to be forcing those that don’t into it. They want the legal protections and recognitions for the family that they have chosen to be equal to the families that heterosexual couples have chosen. Now if you want to argue that there should be zero recognition and protections for and marriage, thus negating any recognition for anyone on the basis of religion because that is inherently picking a valid religion then let’s go with that. But while the secular government issues, regulates, recognizes, and has laws relating to marriage it’s an equal rights issue outside of religion

    • 2Smart2bGOP

      Marriage is a business contract, and if anyone doesn’t believe that, try getting a divorce without a lawyer.

    • Gary Menten

      Wrong on all counts. The United States was founded on legal and not on religious principle. The document you quote from, is the Declaration Of Independence, not the Constitution, and though it’s in many ways a nice document, it has no legal force, nor legal meaning. If it did, all the slaves would have been immediately freed. The foundation of the United States, the basic set of laws governing what kind of country the US is and how it’s governed, it’s leaders selected, and what kind of laws government may or may not pass is the Constitution and ONLY the Constitution. There is no mention of a “creator” anywhere in the Constitution.

      Marriage is as far as government is concerned, a civil status implying certain legal obligations, nothing more. There are many civil officials authorized to perform marriages also. That some people may consider marriage to be sacred is entirely up to them. When churches perform marriages, they act not only on their own behalf, but on the behalf of the state and with the permission of the state, the power being vested to them by the state. Before getting married, you must obtain a marriage license from the state, and only the state can grant you a divorce that has LEGAL meaning and implications.

      Finally, Government is NOT telling any church or religion who it must allow to marry or not. If it did that would be unconstitutional, but it’s not happening so why are you even talking about it?

      • adamj2013

        Go git ’em! 🙂

      • Peter Simatos

        Oh my God(sorry) facts, do you want his head to explode. Quick George get a fix from Faux news and save yourself.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        yeah babeeeee!!!

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        “there U go again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,annoying regressive rightwingers with FACTS”

      • strayaway

        I think that you are both correct. From a religious standpoint, marriage is a religious ceremony. From government’s standpoint, marriage is about paperwork and legal obligations. From the government perspective, why is it even necessary, or is it even required, to have a justice of the peace or minister conduct a ceremony when the local department of motor vehicles or county clerk’s office could just provide the paperwork, emboss it, and cash a check?

      • Gary Menten

        No, there is only one of us correct, and that is me. The religious view of marriage has no meaning whatsoever under the Constitution. The Constitution is designed to tolerate religion and protect the adherents to any particular faith from persecution, but it was never designed to promote it.

        If the religious view had any meaning to government, there would be a great many people who could not get divorced as some religions do not recognize divorce. Catholicism for one. Yet Catholics in America can get divorced legally, even though the church may not recognize such act. Further, a Catholic who gets a divorce may re-marry, though not in a Catholic church. That’s one thing the government can’t do, just as the founders intended.

        The founders recognized that the only way to protect religious freedom for everyone was to guarantee that NO religion would ever become the basis of government policy.

      • strayaway

        You would be right if anyone was trying to say that the religious view of marriage has meaning under the Constitution but no one made that claim. Neither did anyone make the claim that the religious view had meaning to government either. Neither George nor I even used the word “Constitution”. So I conclude that your reading comprehension is the loser or you introduced a red herring. Otherwise, I concur with your red herring. Even Judge Sotomayer agreed yesterday that the (un)ACA cannot force religious institutions to provide contraceptions.

      • Gary Menten

        I am right and the person not paying any attention is you. The Constitution is brought up only because because your friend George doesn’t seem to know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence and has a confused definition of the separation of church and state which is defined in the Constitution, not the Declaration. Thanks for the amusement.

      • strayaway

        You wish you were right. You brought up the Constitution not George. I invite everyone to look at George’s comment. He speaks of foundations documents but does not mention the Constitution. In fact, in your initial response Gary, you wrote, “The document you quote from, is the Declaration Of Independence, not the Constitution” indicating that even you didn’t think he was citing the Constitution. No one is arguing that George was referencing the Declaration rather than the Constitution. Since George did not mention the Constitution, it is impossible for you to discern what he thinks about the Constitution. But go ahead and guess and declare your guess “right” if that’s what works for you.

      • Gary Menten

        No, I am right. Look at George’s comments. Particularly the passage that reads :

        “The Government of The United States was Founded on the Principle of a “Creator” and our “Inalienable Rights”, not granted to us by a “King” who was the Head of the State Church. This is the Separation of Church and State.”

        This is a spurious argument.

        1. The Declaration makes no mention of separation of Church and State or even of religion. Merely it states that King George had repeatedly violated the rights that American Colonists believed were theirs by natural law and that they would henceforth form a new government, independent of England in order to ensure these rights.

        2. The Declaration makes no mention of what form the new government would take, and for a while, Americans even considered replacing one monarchy with another.

        3. The Constitution supersedes everything in the Declaration, and it is only in the constitution that we see the separation of church and state properly enunciated.

      • strayaway

        I looked at that paragraph and can’t find any mention of the Constitution in it. Instead, as you previously pointed out, it made reference to Jefferson’s Declaration. George was correct on his point though.

        Who claimed that the Declaration “mention of separation of Church and State or even of religion?” I think you’re making things up and having an argument with yourself. I have no quarrel with your three points except for your use of the word “merely”. It is about other things too. For instance, it mentions what George said about ‘creator’ and ‘inalienable rights’. It also says, among other things, that government exists to promote such liberties. (“for this reason” which is singular). Like you say, the Constitution supersedes the declaration and other documents. I still can’t find anything wrong either with what George wrote and generally with your opinions about the relationship between the declaration and the Constitution.

      • Gary Menten

        My point being that the separation of church and state is only clearly enunciated in the Constitution. It was not very close to the hearts and minds of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, many of whom at railed at the Quebec Act of 1774 granting Catholics in Quebec rights they didn’t have in England at the time, and which the then overwhelmingly non-Catholic American colonists did not want extended into the 13 Colonies.

        I also argue that the government of the United States was not founded on the principle of a “Creator,” but on the principle of “inalienable rights,” which though first mentioned in the declaration, are not fully articulated until the Constitution is written. By this time the idea of a “creator” is dropped entirely from the language of the Constitution.

        Now these points being made, we get to what George is really arguing: that marriage is a “religious ceremony” that is “recognized,” by the state, not simply permitted by it, and that using the term “marriage” for same sex unions is hijacking a religious term for something other than a religious union and this should not be allowed.

        This is statement is spurious on several counts. Marriage is is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.

        In the US, the individual states set the laws regarding marriage, (and divorce) not any religious body. When a priest or minister or Rabbi officiates at at religious marriage, he does so not only as a agent of his religious organization but also of the state and is responsible for returning the LEGAL documents pertaining to marriage to the local civil authorities.

        Completely civil marriage ceremonies have been performed by municipal, county or state officials probably since the Constitution was ratified but it is only now that one after another individual state starts passing laws allowing same sex couples to be married in that state that some on the religious right are claiming that “marriage” is a holy and religious term and it’s use should not be allowed for same sex unions. Why weren’t they beating their breasts say 50 years ago when only heterosexual couples were having civil wedding ceremonies?

        Unfortunately for them, a number of mainstream religious groups are now sanctioning same sex marriages as well as ones between heterosexual couples. So if a state were to somehow disallow the tern “holy matrimony” with regards to same sex marriages, it would be taking sides with one religion against another, which is also, constitutionally forbidden.

      • xpatYankeeCurmudgeon

        Your Chicago Jeebus, in 2008:

        “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. You know, God is in the mix.”

      • Gary Menten

        President Obama is not the first person who’s position on same sex marriage has changed over the years; mine has too. So has many others. And frankly, he wouldn’t be the first politician to say something insincerely for political expediency, and he won’t be the last. In any case…..regardless of what he thinks now, thought then or said then, none of it changes the separation of church and state inherent in the Constitution.

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        he did NOT say he was against gay marriage
        keep crying

      • Rynne McCoy Cowham

        Nope, you’re wrong. See above. And don’t respond to me either. I’m not interested in your defenses of inaccuracy and falsehoods, thanks.

      • Gary Menten

        I rather think the reason you don’t want me to reply is that you haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

      • Rynne McCoy Cowham

        First, I don’t give a shit what people like you imagine yourselves to “think” because you don’t. Think, that is. Second, I said don’t bother replying precisely because I knew you would say something tediously vacuous and full of shit like this, and I’m not interested in either your mysterious ego trip (mysterious because no reality lends it ground even remotely) or in serving post for your wanton verbal frottage. Last, but not least, what part of I don’t need a reply did you fail to comprehend, asshole? When I say don’t reply it means just that. Know what they call a man who forces himself upon someone after she has clearly said NO? Because I do ….

      • Gary Menten

        As I thought, the entire basis of your position rests on a defensible argument but rather on attacking me personally and calling me names.

        Making “ad hominem,” attacks unfortunately, does not prove your point. Rather it simply suggests that you are incapable of or unwilling to defend anything you say, in which case, one has to wonder why you say it at all? Again…simply calling me names or claiming what I say is “bullshit” without backing it up will get you nowhere, though it does perhaps illustrate many of the failings the American educational system.

      • Gary Menten

        Oops! I meant to write “As I thought, the entire basis of your position rests NOT on a defensible argument but rather on attacking me personally and calling me names.”

        Don’t let it get to your head. This is a typo.

      • Rynne McCoy Cowham

        Get over yourself. You’re simply not worth my time, is the reason I don’t make more of an effort. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing so. But the fact that this is the only conclusion you are capable of coming to speaks volumes about the rightness of my decision.

      • Gary Menten

        Actually, I do seem to be worth your time since you took the time to answer earlier posts, are taking the time to answer now and seem incapable of not responding when I write something. What you are also incapable of, is backing up anything you say with facts. I’m calling you out, in case you don’t understand me. You are both a fraud and a chicken.

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        u replied to him; ergo U are a putz. “don’t reply to me”
        sounds like a good religious regressive mandating what others do

      • atunionbob

        He who fails to hear both sides of a issue is doomed to fail in life. Confucius.

      • FeRD

        LOL! How precious.

        “Don’t respond to me either”, in a discussion in a blog comment thread. As though responses to what someone posts online are only permitted when one chooses to welcome them, and if they’d prefer to get the last word and do a mic-drop then their wishes should be respected. Suuuure.

        Predictably, of course, when Gary chose not to respect your demand to have the last word, you not only read the response you were “not interested in” but couldn’t stop yourself from responding once more.

        If you don’t want something you post online to be fair game for criticism or response, don’t post it online! If you choose to share your thoughts publicly, you don’t get the luxury of being able to call “no backsies” on any and all reactions. Ever.

      • Rynne McCoy Cowham

        Wrong again. You’re wrong. You’re misinformed or willfully ignorant, not sure which, but whichever it is, it makes you wrong. There is no such thing as being morally right while being factually wrong, because “right” actually means “correct”, and to be morally correct you must begin with the solid, sound premise of factual accuracy — a basis you consistently lack. What was that about building upon solid rock versus shifting sands, again?

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        the founding fathers did NOT want ANY religious intrusion upon our legislation. no laws helping ONE religion or religious views over another; and NO RELIGION having its ‘views’ placed upon we who don’t share its ‘view’
        what part of that eludes U? the so-called MORALS of the 21st century schizoid Christians are only to suit the white trash regressives who are controlled by the purse strings of the elite

    • Michael Moerland

      No one is forcing your church to marry anyone. Freedom of religion forbids that. However, it also forbids you, not your church, to discriminate legally married couples from other churches. In other words if your church, following Jesus’s example, wants to shun certain people in its practice they can. If your church wants laws passed to do the same thing outside the confines of its pathetic, small minded confines they can’t.

    • Michael Frei

      please be better informed before you offer your opinion. marriage is not, I repeat IS NOT a religious ceremony. before the church corrupted the marriage contract, it was always a contract… a business contract. merging two families, farms, names, etc together for economic means. religion I.E. the chritians took… no stole the act of marriage because it would yield MONEY for their respective gods… all factual and all readily acknowledged by scholars who study religion, and its corruption of civil laws for its own purpose. up until the 15th century there were same sex marriage ceremonies conducted by various groups including churches. Again religious men corrupted this for their own purposes. FACT

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        there U go again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, irritating a regressive rightwinger with FACTS

      • xpatYankeeCurmudgeon

        I’m in Asia.

        Hates to break it to you but pretty much the world over there is a religious dimension to the ceremony of marriage, even if it’s the participants and their families simply going through a time-honored ritual.

        The supreme court in India – world’s largest democracy – recently came down against gay marriage.

        I rather doubt the Hindu majority in that nation takes their bearings on this issue from outside authorities or missionaries within their borders.

        It’s amusing to see ardent young lefties like yourself mindlessly bash Christianity on this issue.If you examine the growing trend around the world for recognition of same sex unions it is hard to miss the FACT (as you like bellow) that it began in, of all places, the Christian West. And apart from Israel every nation that recognizes such unions as legal was or is culturally Christian.

      • Michael Frei

        first of all it’s HATE not hates… second I’m not a young liberal… I’m old and just as much of a curmudgeon as you I’m sure. As for a religious aspect to marriage, yes many places put a religious twist on it but it is still a civil right. You must obtain a license from a civil office before you can marry. no church or religious organization may marry you with out one. I also am not bashing Christianity. I am a catholic. I just believe that marriage is still a contract, not a religious right. and I’ll BELLOW all I like. now I will bellow about the fact that the U.S. is not a Christian nation. NO religious affiliation is to be put forth as the ruling body of this nation. Now for the original topic… freedom of speech…If you say it you need to be prepared to suffer the fallout from it. Phil does have a right to say what he wants and others have a right to fire him if they don’t like it. His last comment about picking out a 15 year old to marry…. say it if you like but don’t try it, not in the U.S. whether its part of your religion or not.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      that should “trickle down” to the same principle of GOVT—any GOVT ( including states/ cities ETC) NOT having any ‘religion’ speaking as a SOLE “DEITY” in who can perform a marriage or say who can / cannot be MARRIED. States rights are LIMITED when they infringe upon AMERICA as a whole entity. EXAMPLE: If Florida VOTED–as a STATE — to not allow their residents to pay federal tax the US GOVERNMENT would overrule. Many states simply cry for what THEY want as many of the voters in said state are not affected by social/ economic events involving other states. Witness the turbulent 60’s racism. States got what they deserved: Federal intervention. Marriage is NOT an economic issue ( initially),it is a “BS” control mechanism to keep our lemmings in “order” and it is hung out as a CARROT to all those who adhere to archaic superstitions ( SEE: VOODOO/RELIGION)

    • Nualaan

      (Secular) MARRIAGE is a legal contract entered into through the license from the secular state. “Holy Matrimony” is a separate religious ceremony recognizing that secular state MARRIAGE within the context of an individual’s religious beliefs, a sort of church “blessing” of the secular MARRIAGE condoned per the government entity as a lawful contract between consenting adults and their government without regard to their spiritual belief or non-belief.

      Neither secular folks nor governments has ever “hijacked” “Holy Matrimony”. Secular or Religious ceremony, no one is legally married without that secular government MARRIAGE license.

      The individual states may not arbitrarily withhold rights of citizens, simply because one group within a state feels superior and wishes to deny others those same rights which they themselves enjoy without question.

    • strayaway

      In a related controversy, Judge Sotomayer yesterday temporarily blocked a requirement that some religion-affiliated organizations provide health insurance that includes birth control. One of her comments was that she wanted to “strike the balance of providing women with free contraceptive coverage (under the (un)ACA law) while preventing non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage.” I wonder if this can be extended to pharmacists who don’t want to prescribe abortion prescriptions on religious grounds.

    • giankeys loves shemale porn

      how about govt forcing religion to NOT marry people who want 2 marry?
      ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,that’s what pseudo-Christian legislation in a state level will do – keep gays from marrying.
      NOTE: creator is an intangible term which is NOT saying JEEEEESUS is “GOD”. If a so-called sovereign state has its regressive scumbag voting majority vote YES to racism or child abuse or polygamy see how our FEDERAL govt reacts. Same with a bullshit ” religion”….. nice try George. NO RELIGION in legislation is what founding fathers meant.

    • reverendflash

      Well, how marriage is seen within one’s religion and how it’s seen by the government are not exactly the same. Your religion usually requires a religious ceremony to be recognized by the church. Your government requires a marriage license to be recognized by the state. The church doesn’t really care about the license, and the state doesn’t really care about the ceremony. In fact, people get married all the time via a quick non-religious ceremony often held in a government office, headed up by a government official like a judge or a mayor.

  • JDUnfiltered

    The problem with articles like these is only people that agree with what you are saying read them. Just an echo chamber really. Now how do you get people to read outside there comfort zones. That is the question.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      impossible as the regressive scum who watch FOX “news” will simply erase this

    • Darwin

      You can’t, and even if they read it, they would call it “liberal propaganda”. All we can do is hope justice scalia has the big MI and President Obama can appoint a judge that isn’t a religious bigot.

    • grannieannie2

      Maybe we should carry a copy of this article with us at all times. Of course, that will only help in the case of those who know how to read which obviously is not the case of all right-wing followers.

      • Why5ks

        Reading isn’t the problem it is comprehension. They need someone to tell them what it means or they have no way to intellectually digest the information. That is why so many “born again Christians” are always protesting and attempting to ban books they have never read. Someone told them they were evil and thus the marching orders were received.

      • Terry Eugenio Martin

        I am a Christian and I agree whole-heartedly with this article. Not all Christians are mindless conservatives. Some of us believe the Christian Right has done immense damage to the message of Jesus, which is love others uncoditionally, love the marginalized, love the outcasts, feed the poor, give shelter to the homeless, heal the sick. Nowhere did Jesus say we are to judge others; in fact, he said the exact opposite. Am I perfect at this? No. But this business of condemning gay people and focusing so much energy on claiming that we are a “Christian nation” is just plain wrong. We were never a Christian nation. Not when we drove out and killed the Native Americans, not when we owned slaves, not when we enacted Jim Crow laws, not when we started the war on drugs that criminalizes millions of Americans, disproportionately minorities, and certainly not when we allowed atrocities like Trayvon Martin’s murder to go unpunished. And have many Christian friends who hold similar views to mine on these topics. The Christian Right just happens to be so loud and aggressive.

      • Neil Adam Stringfellow

        You give me hope for Christianity.

      • cozyk

        BRAVO! MY kind of christian!

      • NOT!

    • DownriverDem

      It seems that the internet is a good way to make sure folks know the truth. Getting our side to vote in 2014 is most important. All we hear is how the repubs are going to take over the Senate. They are masters of marketing and propaganda. They don’t want us to vote. Dems in many states are putting issues on the ballot to get folks out in 2014. (pot & marriage equality proposals). That is what the repubs did with their anti abortion and traditional marriage proposals. The majority of young folks think the repubs are bat shit crazy. They don’t identify as Dems, but those that vote, vote for the Dems. That is what we need to do. Get those folks to vote in 2014.

      • Timothy Kelley

        3rd party is always an option. And dont feed me that bs line that “no one votes 3rd party” or “a 3rd party will never win.”

        If every person i have heard that tired ass excuse from voted 3rd party, we would have had a 3 party system already

      • Neil Adam Stringfellow

        I do believe that we do need a third option when it comes to voting, but third parties need better representatives than Ron Paul. Like a lizard or cancer.

      • Daniel Boyd

        There are better options than the Ron Paul/libertarian party. I personally voted for Jill Stein from the Green Party last election because I felt her platform fell a lot more in line with me as a liberal than any Dem could.

      • Pedro De Oliveira Verissimo

        Hey! Do not insult cancer or lizard by comparing them with Ron Paul!

        With cancer, you have at least a change that it goes into remission or that the doctor can cut out the tumor, while Ron Paul’s stupidity seems to be eternal and only increases.

      • MegaLolman2000

        Nice argument.

      • Howie Sandak

        Thought your third party is the Tea Party….

    • disqus_3T0GaFQeyV

      No where in the First Amendment does it say anything about separation of Church and State, Alan makes reference to Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists and the English Translation of Adam’s Treaty of Tripoli which is different than the translation sent to Tripoli as proof of a separation of Church and State.

      While the First Amendment only refers to an establishment of religion or preventing free exercise thereof, what seems to be lost is that it should also be just as wrong for the government to pass a law that requires someone to have to go against their own religious beliefs. That would be a true separation of Church and State.
      If I don’t want to eat ham, then the country should not force someone that does not eat ham because if violates their religious practices to have to eat ham.

      • Scott Furciniti

        The “English Translation” is precisely what was passed UNANIMOUSLY by our English speaking Congress. The fact that it was somehow translated incorrectly when sent to Tripoli does not change the meaning of the ORIGINAL English document one iota.

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        would this include ersatz dubious ” beliefs”?

    • Why don’t we go door-to-door, passing out pamphlets with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? We, too, could proselytize and being exceedingly annoying. You know . . . shove it down their throats. :0)

  • DavidHarley

    We would like to believe this, but it really doesn’t work. We have to argue on the basis of what makes political sense now, not what we would like to believe the Founders intended.

    They did not want the federal government to privilege one Christian denomination over the others that were strong in the colonies. Neither the Congregationalists of New England nor the Anglicans of New York and the South were to become tied to the federal state. It would create chaos in the colonies if the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, or the Catholic Church in France were to be imitated.

    There were established or dominant denominations in the colonies. If one looks at the founding constitutions of the 13 new states, all manner of religious exclusions from office are to be found. By some, atheists, Deists and Jews are excluded. By some, Catholics. By most, Quakers and Baptists. Some of these formal exclusions continued well into the 19th century. Informally, of course, they continued longer.

    The letter of the Danbury Baptists, to which Jefferson eventually replied, concerned their fear that the federal government would persecute them, just as the Connecticut Congregationalists and the Virginia Anglicans had done. As the Boston Catholics and New York’s Jews discovered, they were not free from local persecution.

    “The separation of religion from the state” did not become part of Supreme Court jurisprudence until the 20th century. It has gradually extended across a range of previously accepted practices, such as religion in schools. It is not to be found in the Constitution, nor in the first century of Supreme Court decisions. It was brought into currency by Jews, freethinkers and, especially, liberal Protestants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    This judicial precedent has been resisted, over and over again, by those who believe that Christianity, or their denomination of Christianity, or their theological tendency within that denomination, is the foundation of a godly society that will be safe for their children and one where their they will not be lured into atheism, or drug use, or homosexuality, or Presbyterianism.

    As we have seen in recent years, no judicial precedent is cast in stone. Just as the principle had to be fought for, it has to be defended on the basis of reasoned argument. Our multi-cultural society needs a free and open tolerance of belief and unbelief. Calm debate is one thing, but strident antagonism is destructive, serving only partisan interests.

    History can be used, to point out to conservative Baptists the long history of their denomination’s being persecuted, for example. The legal precedents and arguments of the Supreme Court’s decisions can be used. But the Constitution is simply not enough. Like any sacred text, it can be bent to many different purposes.

  • Julius Balloons

    You’re putting words where words don’t belong and have never been said! Freedom of religion MEANS ALL RELIGIONS DUMB ASS! Christianity happens to be one of them!!!! I’m a Jew, and I count my lucky stars that I LIVE IN CHRISTIAN NATION, and served 8 proud years in the US Army during the Vietnam war, I’m a disabled Vet. Many Christian soldiers fought and many died fighting the NAZIs so that I as a Jew can worship as I feel is right. And I’ll be damn if I let you take Christianity out of this great nation of ours! Got it!!!

    • Tim Howe

      And here we have an example of someone reading the words, and not understand their meaning.

      Christianity is not mentioned in the Constitution, and there are only two mentions of “religion” in the whole of it, and both say “keep it out of Governing”: The aforementioned First Amendment, and Article VI, which forbids a “religious test” to hold political office. Even if the majority of the Founders were Christians (They weren’t, see below), they went out of their way to remove Religion of any kind from the machinery of Government. That says something pretty profound.

      A nation may have members of a Faith as a majority of its citizens, but that doesn’t make it a “Faith Nation”? I mean, more than 50% of the people in the building where I work are Black. Does that mean I work in a Black Office? If I am in my garage, does that make me a car?

      And finally, if the religious outlook of most of the Founders (the process of Ratification by the State be damned, right?) informed us what religion the Nation holds, Conservatives should be complaining about the fact that this is “a Deist Nation”, not a that it’s a Christian one.

      All that said, can Julius or anyone for that matter, tell me how anything the author wrote takes away anyone’s right to worship as they see fit?

      • Julius Balloons

        Ha Ha Ha It appears that you’re the one who can’t read, I’ll repeat the jest of it and please try to learn! It’s really not that difficult! Really simple! Now here it goes again! Read and learn! “Freedom of religion MEANS ALL RELIGIONS DUMB ASS!”!!! LMAO I just love my clowns!

      • cozyk


      • Hannah

        The problem is that the idea of separation, which, in our current society is nothing like it was intended, is used to suppress religion. THAT is what all the fighting is about. As for the law, majority should rule, shouldn’t it? If the majority of people believe that a law is right, than it is right. Period.

      • Scott Furciniti

        Wrong. Our system of laws is not built upon the idea of majority rule but rather upon the idea that the rights of minorities are to be protected even in the face of dissent from the majority. That’s precisely why our laws are NOT supposed to be crafted in a way to suit the beliefs of religion, even if those beliefs are held by the majority.

      • giankeys loves shemale porn

        what part of ” separation of church and state” do U not grasp?
        the only religion(s) being suppressed are NON Christian religions,,,,,,,,by pseudo-Christian regressives who are lemmings to john birch white trash

      • Vincent Tarver

        Hannah, my dear. That is bullshit. If the majority believe in slavery, is that right? That is why we have protections like the 1st amendment to keep people like you from running roughshod over minorities.

    • XansMom

      Take your meds, Julius.

      • Julius Balloons

        Good advice, have you taken yours yet?

      • XansMom

        THAT was your witty reply? Two thumbs down.

      • Julius Balloons

        Aww, that just breaks my heart LOL

    • giankeys loves shemale porn

      im willing to wager U are a pseudo “Christian”…not jewish. Jewish people know whats happening; and they know that the white trash “john birch” scumbag ersatz Christians are NOT in favor of Judaism in any capacity except accumulating their votes

  • atunionbob

    Ah heck….Your all wrong….I am the only one who is right here……what are we talking about again…would some one remind me? ( joking people….joking …had to add this because surely some one out there is a republican)

  • Sonny Fellers

    Seperation of church and state is to protect the free expression of religion, not limit it. If you want to tell anyone when where, how to worship because it offends your atheist or other beliefs then go back to England. We have religious freedom and freedom of expression here. Including the freedom to display crosses on government properties. This twisting of the truth is bullshit.

    • Heathen Hillbilly

      NO! Crosses displayed on Gov’t property IS Gov’t endorsement of religion. Why is that so hard to understand?? Freedom of expression does NOT mean you can go around vandalizing everything in sight with GOD stickers. You want to put a cross on public property where it’s allowed…. fine…. just know that ALL people are allowed to put symbols of their ideologies there too…including atheists. Just because you don’t have privilege over others does not mean you’re being limited.

  • JoseAgua

    Though I myself would not say that I am an expert on the Constitution, I could not pass up the opportunity to comment on this post.

    I am in agreement with you that the Founding Fathers do not mean any religion in particular when the expressed that there would be “freedom of religion” (though these exact words do not appear in the Constitution, I digress). However, where I begin to disagree with you is the part concerning the quotation from both Thomas Jefferson and “John Adams”. Between what the Constitution says and what you interpret to mean seem to me to be two different things.

    Firstly, the Constitution only mentions laws regarding the establishment of religion. Establishment of religion would be similar to those of England before the Revolutionary War. In that time, the Christian Church (Church of England) was politically tied to the government. This have been past societies and current societies that have their governments set up in this manner. Some have been called theocracies; in Arabic countries they sometimes allow for Sharia Law.

    Secondly, what the Constitution does not say is that any law based on religious belief is a violation. If this were the case, no law could ever be made. Most religious people act out their beliefs and thus push for laws based on their belief, so if any law were made with even the slightest reliance on a religious belief, then the law would be in violation of the Constitution and not bind. Literally applied, this interpretation would mean that laws against killing would not be constitutional as many religions hold the belief that this is bad.

    Thirdly, I am also in agreement that we can look to outside sources of the Founding Fathers to aid our understanding of why they put what they did in the Constitution. The Jefferson quote is just a restatement of the Constitution with the addition of the “separation of Church and State” which effectively means the same thing, though it could be interpreted differently, as you have. Based on the historical background of England at the time, it means the same thing as the previous sentence. The reason I put John Adams in quotations is because he did not write the quote you attribute to him. The Treaty of Tripoli was originally written in Arabic. It was then translated (poorly) and passed to the American diplomats who signed it, including Adams. So at best you could say that the quote was endorsed by Adams. However, the Treaty gets more dubious as support when you see that the original Arabic draft does not actually translate to how it does in the quote you provided.

    Lastly, you would also need to show how religion is defined. From how you use it, you make it sound like you mean religion is just a person’s personal beliefs, which would include atheism and agnosticism. I know you probably mean to exclude these two, but it is hard to put a real definition on religion. Does it only apply to theistic religions? If so that would mean that Buddhism is excluded, since they do not have a deity (Buddha is just an example, not a deity [even though certain sects may consider him to be]).

    This all leads us back to the conclusion that the Constitution is ultimately there to prevent any one group from taking political control, which is a form of ‘checks and balances’. So I agree with the assessment that religion should not be established in the government and that people should not be allowed to prevent the rights of others, but I disagree that the Constitution says that even religious ideas should be excluded.

  • Robert Rubolin

    Religion should be treated like your dick.When you’re home you can have it out and do whatever you like with it. When you’re in public put it away and keep it to yourself. It’s that simple !!!

    • Denzidrine

      This is why I don’t go out much.

  • Sonny Fellers

    Better yet, if you want to experience freedom FROM religion, go to North Korea for a while. Let me know how that works for ya …

    • XansMom

      I’m free from religion every day right here in the good ole’ US or A! My choice, my business.

      • Sonny Fellers

        Well thank you very much for not needing to take away everyone else’s freedom of religion. I am glad that you can feel free from it while respecting the freedom of others here. Of course naturalism and secular humanism are religions also … Not sure exactly where you are standing on this though.

      • XansMom

        You are free to practice any religion that you want. You can believe in any diety, book, etc that you like. You just don’t get to make laws that effect others based on your beliefs. It’s fairly simple. 😉

      • Sonny Fellers

        Likewise, thank you.

    • CDub

      State worship is a form of religion too. Where did you get the idea it isn’t? North Korea treats their leader as if he is god.

  • JoeCool4ever

    Ok, so here it goes. The entire point here is religion is a personal belief. Freedom of and from religion is meant to protect your own personal belief. It doesn’t extend to any group of people, nor should it. When you comment on your religion to somebody else, you are in fact breaking someone else’s first amendment right.

  • TommyNIK

    The Religious Right is waging a war on the EC of the 1st. Don’t doubt this for a second. They are passionate, well-financed, and they have many allies in government at all levels. Their aim is to establish a soft theocracy one law at a time.

    Opposition to women’s reproductive rights…religion.
    Opposition to life-saving stem cell research…religion
    Teaching creationist and ID nonsense in public schools…religion
    opposition to contraception….religion
    Huge tax breaks/housing allowance for mega churches…religion
    Exporting hate to Uganda to support the anti gay laws…religion
    Opposition to marriage equality….religion
    Diverting tax money away from an already underfunded public school system to fund voucher schools….primarily religion.

    Each law which is influenced primarily by religious dogma and enacted constitutes a law “establishing religion.” The Religious Right will tell you that the EC is a one way check valve i.e the government cannot establish a state religion but the church may influence the government. This attitude was enhanced by two books from pseudo historian David Barton; “The Myth of Separation” and “The Jefferson Lies.” The second book was so full of made-up quotes and inaccuracies that the original CHRISTIAN publisher withdrew the book.

    I have debated these people ad nauseum. Please take this seriously. Free thinkers, atheists, people of reason and common sense, agnostics and even believers who have the will need to become active. This is a problem….a serious one.

  • LegalWatcher

    Nothing in the 1st Amendment addresses communications between citizens. It does not address anything having to do with citizens pushing their religious beliefs on other citizens. It only acts as a limit on government action regarding interfering with a person’s free practice of his or her religion of choice.

  • XansMom

    You have the right to believe any fairy tale that you see fit to believe. That is your right. You have the right to pray, worship, etc. You do NOT have the right to dictate what others believe, how they behave (according to your religion), the right to make laws based on your religion. You also have the right to NOT believe any religion. My religion is………..”Don’t be a dick!”. The end!

  • Dan

    I’m just going to throw something out there from the perspective of someone supporting the tea party… this article is right on. Many people are too stubborn and brainwashed to get it, and it is kind of hopeless. This is a generic trait of all groups of people, though, not just the religious right. I for one think taking part in homosexual acts is sinful, and nobody can convince me otherwise. But I also recognize that not everyone follows my religion or believes in God, and I don’t have a right to force that on others. If I had to vote, it would be aye despite my personal disagreement. I have a number of friends who helped with the tea party, mostly the college crowd, and they have similar views. Not all is lost. We are trying to inject some sanity into the party that might actually do some good (what’s the joke? I tried to vote republican but the GOP wouldn’t let me). Honestly, when I look at the current administration, all I see is Bush 2.0, and I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone was trying to avoid when we (myself included) voted Obama in in the first place.

    So I just ask, when people go on a generic bashing rampage, realize there are similar ways to reciprocate and it doesn’t actually apply to everyone. Usually, it just makes you look like a hateful, ignorant fool. Not everyone is drones to what the newscasters say (though the incredible bias is probably the leading cause to a lot of the discontent).

  • fairness_rules

    Combining religion and politics is a dangerous road indeed! When you do there is no way to prevent imposing your religious beliefs and values upon others. It will always end up subjugating those who have other beliefs when yours is the dominant religion. The “goings on” in Iraq and with the Taliban are perfect examples. It hasn’t worked for 1,400 years over there, why do some think it will work here?

  • wikiBuddha

    Anyone who believes that freedom, in its pure unadulterated form, exists in America is a fool. This has become apparent to me over the years. And I think that this is actually a good thing. It’s called “checks and balances”.

    True, natural freedom might not quite exist the way some people think, either. As you pursue your dreams, whether they be noble or sinister, lofty or modest, you will encounter resistance, friction.

    The beauty of America, and more specifically its Consitution, under which our nation operates, is that it places restrictions that [should] level the playing field, egality.

    A corporation is (should be) limited in its ability to control a market, restricting monopolies. Banks are (should be) restricted in their ability to control money flow and to prevent deals which prevent repayment and invite serfdom.

    Freedom of speech and religion are a little different, but there’s some things that make no sense to me. How, in a country where there is a supposed proclamation of free speech, can censorship exist? This quite seems to be a result of religiosity. Honestly, the most offensive word I know is “god.” God is practically meaningless. It basically means “unknown”, “undefined”. Words that are supposedly offensive have far more practical usage than god. I guess “ass” isn’t offensive these days. I can show you a shit, a dick or a fuck, but I can’t show you a god. I’ve always wanted to censor out the words “god”, “jesus” and “heaven” from a sermon. Do you know how offended that would make many religies? And how hypocritical of them to fail to see how that makes them feel is how their attempt to restrict others’ freedom of speech makes others feel. Who gets to decide what’s offensive? Well, nobody should, because it’s so subjective.

    Now, the constitutional restriction on religion is essentially governmental. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
    religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” I argue that tax exemption status for religious organizations is unconstitutional. It “respects the establishment of religion” and gives them some benefit as a result. I once went to a nudist hot spring. In order for me to be allowed to be nude in the public space of the private resort, I had to join the resort’s “religion”. This is utter bullshit that I have to be considered a member of some made-up religion, just so I can be in my natural state of being!

    That leads to my probably prime litmus of freedom. When I am forced to be clothed, because some (many) people would be offended because they have to see a natural human body is completely un-free. I’ve never once heard a reasonable argument that justifies being forced to be clothed. I’ve thought of one reason that makes the act questionable, but only in certain restricted circumstances. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to sunbathe in the nude on my front yard. I guarantee you will experience no harm or side-effects of it. It’s also bullshit that religious people get off the hook for things like vaccinations, because of their beliefs. How can it be that if I don’t believe in their fairy tale, they get a right that I don’t? Fuck that.

    Lastly, I’ll address “prohibiting the free exercise thereof [of religion]”. This is where things get complicated from my view. I don’t think government employees should be restricted from decorating their cubicles or saying “Merry Christymas”. However, legislating the placement of a religious article, say the 10 commandments, in a public place, is unnecessary and unacceptable. You have to respond to that one of two ways. Either every belief has to have the equal right and opportunity to place their symbols and relics and teachings in public place or you don’t allow any.

    Constitution says no law respecting an establishment of religion. Establishment is defined as “to install or settle” or “to show to be valid or true”. The ten commandments, a religious matter, shall not be “established” on public property. Simple. Anyways, it’s not like churches aren’t already occupying most of the world’s prime real estate, burning holes into the eyes of passerbys, who would otherwise not have to even think about such ridiculous matters.

    I hear people calling for complete and utter freedom for people to do anything their religion approves. But, certainly some line must be drawn. What if I want to worship Mixcoatl, Neith, Enyo, Ku or Mangala and I need my daily blood sacrifice to please my god? Do I get to practice murder since it is a practice befitting my belief? No. Again, I refer to my original point that America is not in fact free. You can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t cause some kind of physical pain to others. I don’t care so much about emotional pain. Words are either just sound waves in the air or dots on a screen or paper. Your reaction to those rather innocuous matters are your own problem. If you get so offended, just “take it up with god” and I’m sure he’ll take care of the matter after you die.

  • xpatYankeeCurmudgeon

    Lefties oppose and want eradicated any competition to worship of the Almighty State.

  • Howie Sandak

    I am so glad to see this in print. I have been “preaching” this forever…that what you practice in private has nothing to do with your other than personal life. If you open a business, you must be authorized (get a license) to opearte that business. That authorization comes from the state in which you open your business…a government agency. Once you are authorized by that state, you are obligated to obey that state’s laws. Therefore one cannot impose their private religious beliefs at their business (see any recent businesses saying they won’t serve LGBT people because it goes against their “private” beliefs). It is ludicrous that any court would support that belief as it is as you say a direct contradiction to separation of church and state. Again thank you for your article.

  • Jason Westerly

    Conservatives are traitors. Yes it is true. Traitors.

  • Eugene Staten

    I call bs here Allen…

    If your religion promotes telling other about your faith, then you can and must talk to others.

    Both side of this discussion are guilty of repressing religion.

    Christians try to repress “others” while the irreligious try to promote some “freedom from religion” doctrine.

    The key is to have friendly discussion without knee jerk hostility.

    They key is honesty without political agenda.

  • MegaLolman2000

    I’m confused. What if it is in the religion of someone to discriminate? Does that cover all religions or only organized religion? What about abortion, is that covered? What if murder is involved?

  • Lonely Shadow

    There’s no real freedom of religion because Muslims, Jews, and Satanists are constantly having Christianity in our faces.

    -A Satanist

  • Mitch

    Everything was fine up until the Adams quote, after which you basically just made up your own definition of “freedom of religion.” There is no “private home” or “place of worship” requirement, as you god-haters seem to insist upon. And in no way is there some inherent requirement that people default to agnosticism when forming their views that will influence their political decision making, in order to ensure no “forcing of religion on anyone”. Any form I authoritarianism is essentially forcing views on someone. There are plenty of your dumb fucking liberal views that you try to force on me, but I don’t go around crying about it not being fair. It’s called democracy. Get over it.

    The one who is attacking freedom of religion is YOU. You are making up your own interpretation of the Constitution that suits your dream worldview of not one lick of religion interrupting any moment of your public-heavy day to day lifestyle. You’re trying to censor religious expression by claiming the Constitution promotes such. That highly offends me as an American. If you don’t like seeing people being religious, or hearing them discuss religion, or God forbid someone sharing their faith with you, then you serious need to get the fuck out of this country, cause things are going to get real ugly if you keep tainting it with your anti-God crap disguised as “progression.”

  • Cynthia

    The young man in the white shirt and black tie that rode his bicycle up to my front door to espouse his religious beliefs was not Muslim.