“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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government of a redress of grievances.’’
Thomas Jefferson once claimed, “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free.” John Adams predicted the success of America’s republican form of government would prove dependent upon the virtue and morality of her people; and that virtue and morality are necessarily founded upon religion; by which the founding Fathers meant the Christian Religion.
The framers and writers of our Constitution were convinced that the State must be held accountable to the authority of higher ethical and spiritual standard, what the framers described as “the Natural Law” or the “Law of Nature’s God.” The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were born out of a deep understanding and collective rejection by our Founding Fathers of the human rights abuses they had observed in Europe; and were determined to not see repeated in the new Republic.
The enemy of abuse is freedom.
The enemy of freedom is abuse.
Hartley Coleridge asked the question; “But what is freedom? Rightly understood, a universal license to be good.”
What is freedom? The license to do as one wishes or the freedom to make the right choice?
The champions of freedom in a free society are; to worship, to speak, to publish, and to fellowship and to gather and remind each other of these freedoms.
The first amendment contains five freedoms;
The Constitution prohibits government from establishing a state sponsored church and compelling its citizens to join that church and believe the tenants of that church. It protects each person’s right to practice or not practice any faith without government interference.
The first Amendment guarantees that people have the right to speak freely without government interference.
The First Amendment guarantees that the press will be able to publish news, information, and opinion without government interference. This also means that individual citizens; the people of the United States, also have the right to publish their own papers, newsletters, magazines, radio and television shows, blog spots and internet publishing sites without government interference.
The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to march, to protest, demonstrate, carry placards; to express their views in a non-violent manner. It also means that people can join, associate, and otherwise interact with other people, organizations and groups without government interference.
The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to appeal to their government; to affirm or deny its policies; whether those policies personally affect them or not. The citizen has the right to voice opposition or support, to gather petitions and signatures; to lobby legislative bodies for or against legislative proposals, laws and other enactments.
In a recent poll: “37 percent of those polled couldn’t name even one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. Those freedoms are: the right to worship, speak, publish, assemble and raise grievances with the government.”
William Havard wrote, “The greatest glory of a free born people, is to transmit that freedom to their children.” How can we with a clear conscience promote freedom to our future generation and leave them ignorant of what those freedoms are? Was Thomas Paine correct when he told our Founding Fathers “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it?”
There are those who say they love freedom. There are those who say they love truth. Carl Henry challenged a generation when he said, “Our professed love of freedom is increasingly shown to be a sophistry that replaces wisdom and righteousness with self-gratification.”
Who said these words? “There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are Obedience, Endeavor, Honesty, Order, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Sacrifice.” You would never know the author—unless you heard the final sentence, “and love of the Fatherland.” What Hitler left out was obedience to him, the twisted honesty of a madman, order in the Third Reich, cleanliness that consisted of cleansing what he perceived to be the filth of inferior races, sobriety as a commitment to his own warped agenda, truthfulness as the truthfulness of his own twisted perceptions and sacrifice as sacrifice to the twisted vision of a man who perceived himself a god.
Hitler abused his people’s freedoms, threw them in the fire of adversity and forged them into a spear that pierced the side of western civilizations.
There are two freedoms: the false where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true where a man is freed to do what he ought. —Charles Kingsley
The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are not free to do. —Eric Hoffer
We are free to worship as we see fit. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “And what greater calamity can fall upon a nation than the loss of worship? Martin Luther said, “to believe God is to worship God.”
Do I fear when a man or a nation refuses to worship God? C.S. Lewis said, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling “darkness” on the wall of his cell.”
Daniel Webster said, “God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”
How can I help you love liberty? How can I impart to you respect for individual rights?
The First Amendment may guarantee the right to worship—but it will not impart the motive for worship. The First Amendment may guarantee the right to speak, but it will not give us the words to speak. The First Amendment may give us the right to publish, but it will not give us pen and paper. The First Amendment may give us the right to form friendships and fight abuses, but forming friendships and fighting abuses can only come when we choose to become like that which we love most.
Make no mistake about it, you learn love by loving; and you will become like the thing you love most. Jonathan Edwards perhaps the most influential thinker born on American soil wrote, “Love is the sum of all virtue, and love disposes us to do good.”
The freedom to worship, the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish and the freedom to form friendship and fight abuses may be guaranteed by The First Amendment; but like all moral absolutes it rests in the end in the character of God and the willingness of man to honor that character. We are created in God’s image; and we are told through divine revelation that the standards of morality, virtue, wisdom and love are embedded deep in the character of God.
Love freedom. Guard freedom. Defend freedom.
Benjamin Franklin calls out to us through the corridors of time warning and challenging us,
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I will find my safety in my liberty and I will find my security in the God I worship; in the words of freedom and in the published legacy given to us by our Fathers; written in the blood of faithful servants; and I will oppose those who seek to erode my freedoms and erase the legacy of love left by the brave men and women who gave their lives for me.