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March 20, 2009

The Assault on Our Basic Rights

Joe Charlebois

Whether one believes in a higher being or not, our founders did. Those who finesse the issue that they may or may have not been Christians obfuscate the point. They believed in a higher being. They more importantly believed that all rights that were bestowed upon man were given by that higher being, God.


They did not want a federal government with a state sponsored religion. They fought to assure that citizens would be able to worship freely. They fought to assure that those same citizens could choose the doctrine that they believed in – not one mandated by a centralized government.


Anti-religion advocates, such as Michael Newdow, are attempting to strike another deadly blow to our founders’ principles by removing any and all references to a higher being from public institutions, including currency.


I understand that those who do not believe in a higher power may feel that they are a minority that is subject to the greater will of the majority, but the fact is a vast majority of Americans believe in God and overwhelmingly support the use of phrases such as “In God We Trust.”


For the most part, the courts have ruled in favor of the traditional uses of “In God We Trust” and “Under God” referenced in the Pledge of Allegiance.


The Declaration of Independence clearly states that unlike other sovereign nations, our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are God given, not state given.


Once the state takes the role of God in society, it will be able to rule on issues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Godless states have littered the recent past with a horrific results.


I am one who is strictly against the state issuing any ruling that would impose religion on any person. Likewise the state should not inhibit the right of those of faith to profess their faith.


An example of religious suppression is on full display just to our north, no, not Canada, but The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The teachers, by law in Pennsylvania, are not allowed to wear any religious medallion of any sort. This includes necklaces adorned with a cross, Star of David or other religious symbols as it concludes that it is a tacit endorsement of a state sponsored religion.


We are a country founded on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assembly, and to petition our government for redress. The first item mentioned in this article states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”


Congress has never attempted to establish a state religion. To the contrary, there has been a continual assault on the free exercise of religion.


And it will only continue, not in the legislative branches, but in the courts.


As the Obama administration moves forward, it will likely have the opportunity to add numerous judicial appointments that will favor more hard-line opinions on “separation of church and state.”


Those who wish to be able to practice their faith as they wish should fight to have such judicial appointments thwarted. The political battleground has changed drastically over the years with the initial salvo being fired at then Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork. Those who have bowed to political pressure in the past can do so no more.


Those who believe in limiting judicial activism need to step forward and fight to defend a strict interpretation of our Constitution. The power of the judicial branch will continue to grow until it becomes the all powerful legislator. When this role comes to be, this “super legislator” will not be accountable to the people as Congress should be.


You don’t have to be a liberal or conservative to understand the potential problems that are inherent in “legislating from the branch.”


The founders knew that freedom to exercise our faith was as important to address in the Bill of Rights as any other freedom, which is why they addressed it as they did. If our ability to freely express our faith is limited, what else will be limited?


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