The First Ammendment — 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.
With all the hoop-la the past few weeks over the latest decisions by our Supreme Court and the discourse by Church leaders and some in our Congress, I thought it just may be interesting to explain what the First Ammendment is all about.
In it’s forty-five words, the First Ammendment covers an astonishing amount of ground. It’s guarantees fall into two halves — religious guarantees first, guarantees of expressive rights next.
It is fairly clear what Congress, or the Government, can or can’t do in regards to churches as far as the establishment of religion or for the free exercise of any said religion. The key phrase here is ‘free exercise’ and our Country, as much as we hate to admit it, is based on diversity of religions, along with people and not based solely on the ‘Christian’ religion. In 1784, when the Constitution was developed, Churches were more setup and controlled by the States and the writers wanted to make sure it was understood by all the Federal Government had no place interfering.
The second section covers the freedoms we are guaranteed under the Constitution — The freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble and the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. These all sound good, but the Government can stipulate conditions on these freedoms pretty much at well. Over the years they have only stepped in a few times, for National Security.
The Church, using the second section of the ammendment, petitioned the Court for a redress of grievances and asked the Court to make a judgment over several issues covering abortion, birth control and LGBT marriage. The Court, not wanting to get into the issue, pushed it back to the State. Unfortunately the Church was not satisfied and pushed until the issues found themselves back in front of the Court.
It may be interesting to note that at the same time the Church was complaining about how the Government was sticking it’s nose into the business that is considered sacred ground, violating the ‘separation of Church and State’.
In the end, the Court was forced to become involved and the decisions they made were not quite what the Church was expecting, so the whole mess blew up in their face. The diversity of our country required the Court to exercise equal rights for all since all Americans are covered under the Constitution and all have the same rights guaranteed.
To the Church the Court was making laws changing the intent of the Constitution and the whole foundation of the Church a direct violation of the Separation of Church and State therefore the Court was wrong in their eyes and they set out on a campaign to discredit the Justices.
The Court was right in it’s decision guaranteeing the rights of all Americans. Right or wrong, the diversity of the United States is what makes it so strong. I agree with the Court, in part, that if the Church wants Government to stay out of the Church, the Church needs to stay out of Government. We would be less divided, as a Country, if we would recognize the diversity of the people in the Country and remember we all have the same rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
I was once told by a minister that these rights are God given, what he failed to realize that we live in a country where these God given rights are guaranteed by a Constitution. Not every country in the world can say that.
If we, as Christians, believe that God puts people in Office for His Glory, we must also believe He led the Supreme Court Justices to these decisions for the same purpose. I trust God and know He has a purpose for everything. I am happy to follow the Bible and let the latest decisions work their way through to fruition, for His glory. His commandment to love your neighbor as I have loved you offers Christians an opportunity to display their love for all regardless of race, color or belief by setting the example on how Christians are supposed to live. Not judging, but standing firmly on the message of the Gospel leading others to Him.
Walk daily with God at your side.