By A.J.(Tony) Powell
Would you read a column about the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
Probably not. It is interesting that anyone and everyone has an ‘opinion’ about ‘Freedom of Religion’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ but have never bothered to read up on it. So I thought I’d take a look.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says “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.”
Not that complicated – Is it?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. That seems simple enough. But, for whatever reason, the US Supreme Court claims it to mean that the government can OUTLAW religion.

This contradicts the next line “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Why then cannot our children pray in school? Why can’t our local Commission Meetings, or any group meeting, start with an invocation?

-Next line says, “or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press”. Doesn’t that mean that you can write or say what you want to, wherever you want to, whenever you want to?

-If an American Citizen wants to say a prayer here, there or anywhere, why is it any business of the government?

-Next line says, “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Doesn’t that mean that the police should not attack an individual, a group or a crowd who are walking down the street with a bunch of dumb signs claiming their ‘rights’? Stupidity isn’t illegal. If it was, most of our Congress and Senate would be in jail!

“and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”– That means only that American Citizens can legally ‘Petition-The-Government’ BUT, the government is not obligated to listen.

Their answer is, ‘next election’ But, that doesn’t work either, because the new candidates turn out to be as crooked as the ones just voted out.

Apparently, when the First Amendment was drafted, it applied only to the U.S. Congress and not State and Local Governments. Then, in 1940, the US Supreme Court used the Fourteenth Amendment, (The Free Exercise Clause) to override States Rights.

Here’s a few more ‘perspectives’:-
“Everybody is free to discuss religion, but no-one does!”

“When the government bans our faith, they are demanding submission.”

“How is it that freedom OF religion, has become freedom FROM religion”

“Who is to be free? It has to be all of us, or none of us.”

“A life without faith, is a life without purpose.”

“Deny your God and worship mine or I will destroy you.”

“Only faith is capable of purity.”

“Can we get rid of Christianity and keep its’ values?”

“Faith is about making the right choices, doing the right things and leading the right life.”

“For you to believe what you choose, you must allow me to do the same, especially if we disagree.”

A writer says, “People with different faiths or no religion at all might feel excluded. Or worse, they’d feel that you think that your religion is better than theirs. The writer asks, “Put the shoe on the other foot, how would that make you feel?

My answer, “I’d feel just fine. Respecting other people’s beliefs is important. My ‘faith’ (or lack thereof) is irrelevant.

As I See It, if others wish to believe differently, that is no business of mine.

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