Religious Freedom Means Freedom to Speak

Some of you have asked about my message at the Religious Freedom Rally in June, which was held at the Cox Center. I was one of a host of speakers. Consequently, I spoke briefly, and below are my remarks.

GO HOME: ALL OF YOU GO HOME: Go back to your churches, freely practice your religion in your homes and your churches, and if you must, you may occasionally say something religious in an ever decreasing selection of public venues as long as the trumpeters of “separation of church and state” grant you prior permission.

I believe in the wonderful and inviolable First Amendment. I do not believe in the transmogrification of that protector of religious liberty into secularism’s religious guillotine “separation of church and state.”

Wittingly or unwittingly, from the highest office in our land, halls of education, and neighborhood sidewalks and streets, secularists and their surrogates echo the menacing refrain “freedom of worship.”

Such a pronouncement appears to many as synonymous with advocating religious freedom or the First Amendment, but actually it quite methodically further dismantles the First Amendment by limiting it to the protection of “worship” only.

The First Amendment does not say “separation of church and state.” It does not say the government is to secure and protect our freedom to worship. Rather it emphatically says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof.” Congress means the federal government. NO LAW means NO law. What part of NO do they not understand–apparently none of it.

The First Amendment placed religious freedom jurisdictionally off limits to the federal government. NO LAW.

The systematic exclusion of religious ideas from the marketplace of imposable knowledge distorts our founding documents and catapults our country on a trajectory of religious marginalization, secular totalitarianism, and ultimately persecution.

Secularists, along with a host of misinformed Americans, have distorted the First Amendment and concomitantly seek to diminish the significance of the Declaration of Independence because it is based on the unambiguous religious foundation of America. At times you hear them refer to our “founding document” (meaning the Constitution) rather than “founding documents,” thereby diminishing the significance of the Declaration of Independence.[i]

The United States was founded upon the astonishing declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Thus, the purpose of our constitutional government is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

The two most prominent human rights crises in American history relied not upon our Constitution, but upon the Declaration of Independence.

The Civil War – I suppose one would be on safe ground assuming that President Lincoln was quite aware of whether there was only one founding document. He gave his famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 and opened with the words, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Going back in time fourscore and seven years brings one back to 1776, which was the date of the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution. The Constitution was not ratified until 1788.

Civil Rights – Martin Luther King Jr., in his “I Have a Dream Speech,” referred to the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

The oft repeated refrain of the Civil Rights movement, “I am a man” means nothing in America for anyone if religious ideas are banished from the marketplace of ideas, and the Declaration of Independence is relegated to the nook of historical curio and contemporary irrelevancy. From a secular or naturalistic vantage point, we citizens possess no more unalienable rights than a tadpole. I am from Arkansas and therefore I am somewhat of an expert on tadpoles. Here’s the truth. It is not that tadpoles ain’t got many unalienable rights, but rather tadpoles ain’t got no unalienable rights. The Declaration of Independence is America’s raison d’etre, our birth certificate, without which we lose our God given liberty and country.

Never forget, while Christianity is personal, it is not private.[ii] Some things are not only wrong for me as a Christian, but wrong for everyone: murder, abortion, and stealing. And some things are right for all: marriage between one man and one woman.

It is irrational, historically unjustifiable, and subversive to democracy to exclude our faith-based opinions from the marketplace of imposable knowledge. Laws are based on morals, not the reverse; laws can only tell us what is legal not right.

Secularism could not have given us the Declaration of Independence or the United States, nor can secularism sustain and protect those rights.

Go Home. I think not. We must stand up for our families, neighbors, children, and grandchildren and to be faithful to our God.

[i] First that is contrary to our national history, which was born and bred in a religious milieu. This is seen in the very founding documents of the United States like the Declaration of Independence (our birth certificate) and the Articles of Confederation, both of which refer to God specifically. The Constitution protects Sunday as a day of worship, and includes the words, “in the year of our Lord”. The famous Northwest Ordinance requires the teaching of religion in public education and the First Amendment protects religion from interference by the federal government.

[ii] In one of Justice Scalia’s dissents he said, “Church and state would not be such a difficult subject if religion were, as the court apparently thinks it to be, some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one’s room.” Kevin A. Ring, ed, Scalia Dissents: Writings of the Supreme Court’s Wittiest, Most Outspoken Justice, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2004), 187.

Ronnie W. Rogers