Do you think that your First Amendment rights regarding the free exercise of religion are being protected by the powers at be, or are they being sidetracked by sensitivity quirks?
Let’s talk about the First Amendment to the Constitution and how it applies to Religious Freedom. What does the amendment say?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
Four year ago, in Morgan Hill California, four students were told by school administrators to cover up the American Flag on their t-shirts because it was Cinco de Mayo. Some Hispanic students were offended that they would wear the American flag shirts on a day they were celebrating their own heritage. They complained to school officials and they asked the students wearing the flags to turn them inside out, or leave school. The action led to a lawsuit, and the appellate court backed the school administrators. One of the students is now at the University of Nevada and is an Army reservist. Despite the amount of time that has elapsed since the incident, he is still ready to appeal the case.
Two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and to stop praying in the name of Jesus. When the men objected to those demands, they were subjected to ridicule and harassment that led to one of the chaplains leaving the program and the other being ejected. A federal lawsuit has been filed.
A grieving mother erected a roadside cross where her son, Anthony Vincent Devaney, was killed crossing the street in May, 2012. The American Humanist Association filed a complaint and demanded that the cross come down. They say the display of these crosses around the country remembering those killed offend them and cross the line between church and state. This is the same group that filed a legal action against the Lake Elsinore’s proposed veterans memorial that would have depicted a soldier kneeling in front of crosses and Stars of David. Anthony’s cross has been taken down.
Within the Military we have seen many examples of actions against Christians. Atheists are battling over a cross that was placed at Camp Pendleton in California, there is a continued push for non-believing chaplains , a cross was removed from an interfaith military chapel in Afghanistan and the U.S. Air Force Academy backed out of a toy drive because it was sponsored by a Christian group, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center implemented a policy that prevented family members of wounded soldiers from bringing Bibles and other religious materials to their loved ones.
In Florida, at Park Lakes Elementary School, a school teacher told Giovanni Rubeo he was not allowed to read his Bible during “free reading time” in the class. As a result she called his parents in front of the class and left the following message,
“I noticed that he has a book, a religious book, in the classroom, He is not permitted to read those books in my classroom.”
The Rubeo family is currently being represented by the Liberty Institute.
In Lake City Florida, a Christian ministry who has been providing food to the poor and hungry for 31 years, had a state government worker tell them
“They would not be allowed to receive USDA food unless they removed portraits of Christ, the Ten Commandments, a banner that read “Jesus is Lord” and to stop giving Bibles to the needy.”
Daly and her staff were stunned when the government officials also informed them that the Christian Service Center could no longer pray or provide Bibles to those in need. So, faced with a choice…God or government food, they chose God.
“We decided to eliminate the USDA food and we’re going to trust God to provide.” “If God can multiply fish and loaves for 10,000 people, he can certainly bring in food for our food pantry so we can continue to feed the hungry.”
Churches across Lake City have filled the void left when the government took away their food.
In 2011, Mark Mackey and Bret Coronado were arrested and charged with misdemeanor offenses for reading the Bible outside a DMV location. A Superior Court Judge, found the men not guilty of any offenses and also pointed out that what the prosecutors tried to invoke was unconstitutional.
Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk found himself relieved of his duties because his Air Force Base Commander wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to gay marriage. She demanded Monk share his own personal views on marriage. When he said he disagreed with her opinion, he was relieved of his duties. His beliefs are a court martial offense in the Air Force and it is quite possible that the 19 year veteran with a spotless record could be booted out of the military because of his Christian beliefs. He is being represented by the Liberty Institute for religious discrimination.
A professor at Florida Atlantic University told his students to write “Jesus Chirst” on a piece of paper, throw it on the ground and stomp on it. When a student refused to do the assignment, a formal disciplinary action was started against him. When the word got out, Christians became enraged and the University changed its mind and the professor was put on administrative leave.
There was a complaint in Arizona from an Atheist that she was offended by the Bible in the nightstand at her hotel near two public universities. Rather than protecting constitutional rights, the universities removed the Bibles. Alliance Defending Freedom argue that removing the Bibles is actually discriminating against religion. The Supreme Court has repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials and activities as viewpoint or content discrimination at universities and elsewhere. A law suit will be filed against the universities. David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice said,
“Incidents like this will continue to unfold against religious expression in the public sphere as long as a “quirk” in the law provides “special privileges to offended citizens.”
The list of examples of discrimination against Christians and persons of faith continues on a daily basis. Is the punishment of those who choose to practice their faith an infringement on their rights to exercise their freedom of religion? Can the government and private organizations make laws prohibiting the practice of religion when the Constitution “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion? “
Are these examples truly concerns over the separation of church and state, or just intolerance from those with sensitivity quirks?