Freedom to Exercise Religion

The response to the recent decision in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby has been…sad. The most popular argument is “They can believe whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else.”

Talk about ignorance.

The Constitution

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is simple and to the point (emphasis added):

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.

There was no fine print. This is by design.

Fisher Ames, Framer of Amendment I, wrote,

Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.

James Madison commented,

[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.

Not Just Thought

In Modern America, some have interpreted the First Amendment to (among other things) silence religion. The accusations are made that “People should leave their religion for church and at home.” That was never the intent of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment doesn’t just guarantee the freedom to believe whatever you want, but also the Freedom to EXERCISE that belief. It does not say “Freedom to Believe at Home” or “Freedom to Go to Church.” It’s the guarantee that in all aspects of our lives the founding principles of our faith are free to be lived-out—not restrained by the brick and mortar of a church building.

There is a reason why this Freedom of Religion clause was included in an amendment that also guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to assemble. The Founding Fathers designed the First Amendment to protect an inherent right to ACT out beliefs, thoughts, and to assemble in an effort to express those. It doesn’t explicitly state where they may assemble because there wasn’t meant to be a limitation.

Hobby Lobby

In the case of Hobby Lobby, they never should have been mandated to provide health insurance (if you don’t agree,  go read the Constitution and tell me where employer provided healthcare is mentioned…) In fact, there is nothing about healthcare at all. A private business (honestly, any business) should not be made to pay for treatments they know is murder. Period.

Hobby Lobby has no problem with 16 of the 20 “birth control” options available under the insurance they provide. But again, even if they had problems with all twenty, that’s their prerogative.

If you don’t like their stance there is a simple solution: don’t shop there and don’t work there. You can’t demand they provide you with a job or demand they sell to you, make them deal with all of the risks, liabilities, and expenses of opening and operating a business, then dictate to them that they must forfeit their rights to do so.

Their Right Supersedes Your Want

There is no “Right to Not be Inconvenienced” in the Constitution. There is the right to act out your religion. Hobby Lobby isn’t imposing it’s beliefs on anyone. It’s external forces imposing their beliefs on a private company.

We already protect religious expression and religious exercise. Most if not all employers are already required to make accommodations for the religious observances of their employees. This includes time off (without penalty) for religious holidays or weekly Sabbaths.

Rights aren’t privileges to be revoked. Instead, they are sacred guarantees we believe are inalienable—that is they are inherent and irrevocable. The First Amendment doesn’t grant Freedom of Religion, it merely acknowledges and protects a right that the original Thirteen Colonies believed all human beings possessed.

America, Humble Yourselves & Pray.


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