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.That's the First Amendment. Now, there are people who, though they project an air of intelligence and education, prove this facade to be illusory by failing to comprehend the very plain, very understandable phrase, "Congress shall make no law...".
Now, with respect to religion it means in part that Congress cannot establish a religion. So far, so good: everyone agrees. But it equally means that Congress cannot prohibit the exercise of a religion that was established by the People themselves independently of their government. And specifically here, it means that Congress can't tell you how to run your religion, particularly when the laws (and regulations established under the authority of law) are at odds with that religion.
For us... the People... it means a few things, too; such as:
- We must be tolerant of others' religion, as we expect them to be tolerant of ours. This is because the Congress lacks the authority to make people ditch their religious practices to do our bidding. Stated plainly, this means we don't always get what we want from pious people. For instance, it may mean that we can't get the pork chops we love from the Jewish butcher. So buy the veal (it's delicious) and go elsewhere for the pork.
- If we want something that's prohibited by our religion, we make hard personal choices. For one, we might want to consider whether it is our religion. Seriously. If you don't believe in the tenets of a religion, what are you doing there?
- If we are employed by a religious organization, and want secular benefits that they don't offer because of their doctrine, then it's time to look for secular employment. This holds true whether we're disillusioned with the monastic life or we're just the ones who tidy up the sanctuary and vacuum the carpet. Not all of us should work for the church.
- If we want to kill babies in the womb, and our church cannot abide aiding and abetting such activity -- even if they would forgive us afterward -- then we'll have to do our baby-killing on our own dime. Or, we could get secular employment at a firm that either has no problem with, or cannot avoid, paying for our baby-killing.
- If we don't think killing babies in the womb is killing babies in the womb, and prefer to assuage our guilt by pretending to ourselves that it is something it's not, then once again we may be fundamentally disconnected from the doctrine of our church, and we should consider whether it actually is our religion. If you can't agree on something like that... probably not.
|Yes, I defaced Lincoln's watch.|
Now, there are limitations on the separation of church and State, yes. For instance, as a nation we won't stand idly by and allow a church to perform human sacrifice, for example. And ironically, the church looks upon this HHS mandate in exactly the same way. If human sacrifice in the name of religion is bad, imagine how much more heinous it is to destroy life for no damned reason at all other than your own convenience. Remember, these are not contraceptives under discussion, but abortifacients.
“This is the sixth time the HHS mandate has been before the Supreme Court, and the sixth time it has lost. Doesn’t our government have something better to do than fight charities serving the poor?”
-- Eric Rassbach, Deputy General CounselBecket Fund for Religious Liberty.
image of Supreme Court facade via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain
image of Supreme Court stopped watch copyright by Dave Leigh for this post.
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