By Alden L. Benton
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.
~First Amendment to the United States Constitution
Ratified December15, 1791
The First Amendment is the foundation of the liberties outlined in the Declaration of Independence. This, and the next nine amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, profoundly limits the power of the federal government wields over its citizens.
These rights have been challenged constantly through the years, but, however, remain intact.
Now, language buried deep in sweeping legislation, and in rules developed by unaccountable super‑governmental agencies, is threatening one of the four fundamental rights specified in the First Amendment: Freedom of Religion.
The challenge is based upon the most misinterpreted phrase in American history: Thomas Jefferson’s comment about the separation of church and state. In contemporary society, Jefferson’s words have been ripped entirely from their context and twisted to serve the quest of the political left to destroy religious freedom in the United States.
In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, Jefferson wrote:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, [the people, in the 1st Amendment,] declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
Put simply, the words of the First Amendment protect religion from government, not the opposite. However, in their quest to turn the United States into a godless state the political left, through judicial fiat, has rewritten the First Amendment so that it protects the government from religion. This concept exposes religion, and its adherents, to the discrimination and persecution the First Amendment was designed to prevent.
Contrary to uninformed popular belief, Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists supported the principles specified in the First Amendment.
Today, the principles of the First Amendment face a new challenge from the political left.
According to a September 26 News Max story, the department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has issued an Obamacare rule requiring that most insurance plans pay for contraception and sterilization as preventive measures for women. (Bishops: Obamacare Rule Targets Catholics, Threatens Religious Freedom)
In response, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops distributed a parish bulletin which states:
… The mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom. Conscience Rights Violated by Sweeping HHS Contraceptive Mandate
There is, according to the News Max article, a religious exemption, but citing the Bishops’ response states:
“Under such inexplicably narrow criteria — criteria bearing no reasonable relation to any legitimate [let alone compelling] government purpose — even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian Church would not qualify as ‘religious,’ because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists or engage only in a preaching ministry. … In effect, the exemption is directly at odds with the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus teaches concern and assistance for those in need, regardless of faith differences.”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”
Neither the president nor his minions can justify this intrusive rule with the First Amendment. This rule is clear in its attack on Catholic tenants and beliefs. This doesn’t sound like a law that allows the free exercise of religion. It is an attack on the religious principles of the Catholic faith.
This rule establishes a precedent for the establishment of a government secular religion since Obamacare forces everyone to buy insurance. It makes one wonder what part of “Congress shall make no law . . .” do they not understand.
CNS News reports today that President Obama is “proud of this new regulation.” (‘Darn Tooting!’ Obama Brags About HHS Reg Catholic Bishops Call Attack on Liberty)
In an all too typical obfuscating side step, the president pandered to a St. Louis crowd touting the benefits of Obamacare, stating “They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs.”
However, according to the Bishops, “Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase.”
A religious person should not be required to violate their faith in order to acquire health insurance, and no law should violate the religious freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
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Copyright 2011 Alden L. Benton