Freedom Of Religion or From Religion?

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.

This is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the first ten of which make up the Bill of Rights.  The framers of this document considered this to be so important that they placed it first.  Why?  Many, if not most of them had risked their lives, left their families, given up their homes and made major sacrifices to cross an ocean for the chance to be able to worship as they saw fit without fear of persecution.

This concept has been grossly perverted today.  The “separation of church and state” was intended to prevent any one religion from controlling the legislative process as a means to ensure that all men and women would be able to worship in their own way…or choose not to worship at all.  Today we have courts that are prohibiting people from honoring their chosen religion under the guise of Constitutional protection.  But one person’s right to NOT be religious does not trump another’s freedom.

If you see someone praying, you do not have to join in.  Even if the vast majority of people at an event are holding a communal prayer you can politely opt out.  When I was in grade school (yes, it was quite some time ago) we explored many religions; Judaism, Christianity, Hindu, etc.  Not in any great detail, but if there was a student in the class who practiced something other than Christianity we talked about whatever holiday it was for that religion and we…LEARNED!  It was enlightening.  I never had a desire to convert, mind you, and I never felt uncomfortable.  But I did learn to appreciate other view points.  And I learned that we are not so different in our overall philosophy.

It amazes me that in today’s society, where the politically correct pundits preach tolerance of others there is a skewed sense of fairness and the “tolerance” is for a limited few.  Should we not all be respectful of each other’s right to worship…or not worship…as we see fit?

Do The Ends Justify The Means?

It has been held by some as common knowledge that the end result, if for the “greater good” will justify doing things that would otherwise be classified as unacceptable behavior.  But is this really the case?  I was stopped in a sobriety checkpoint recently and from what research I have been able to do online this activity is deemed legal in many states under specific circumstances.  However, if one reads the US Constitution these  random traffic stops are no where near legal and violate the individual’s Constitutional rights.  Remember, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to reiterate things that were held to be God given or inherent natural rights that could not be granted or denied by man or government.

So how do the courts justify allowing this activity to transpire?  The guise is that it prevents traffic deaths due to drunk drivers and therefore the end justifies the means.  However the “studies” conflict and many do not back up the claim.  Some say that only 1% of those who are checked at DUI roadblocks are charged with driving while impaired.  By comparison, 2.5% are ticketed for “other infractions” which is still a very low percentage of those stopped.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own data shows that the police catch drunk drivers three times more often while on routine patrol than they do in these questionable checkpoints.  It could be argued as well that the expense of setting up these roadblocks is unreasonable, especially given their lack of effectiveness.

So why do we tolerate this behavior?  No one wants to see injuries or death due to drunk driving or any other careless activity.  But is violating everyone’s right to unencumbered passage, freedom from unwarranted search or being detained without probable cause really keeping us safer?  Does the end really justify the means?  Would it not be more effective if we simply stopped those who we knew were driving under the influence ourselves before they got behind the wheel?  Freedom is, after all, a great responsibility and it is up to each and every individual to maintain it and to hold each other accountable for our actions.

Different states have different laws, but only 11 states stand by the Constitution and ban this highly questionable and intrusive practice.  They are Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon Rhode Island, Texas, Washington (state), Wisconsin and Wyoming.  If you live in one of the other states and want to live life as a free person perhaps you should petition your state legislature to change the law.  After all, they are supposed to work for US, not the other way around!

What Is Freedom?

Most of us think that we are free.  We have the ability to make decisions, choose where we live, work in occupations of our own selection, etc.  But are we really free?  Let me ask you a few simple questions.  Then you decide for yourself.

Do you keep the fruits of your labor?  Here in the USA, where I live, we keep a portion of the money we earn, but we also are required by the governments (note the plural syntax) to surrender a portion of our earnings to fund public projects whether we agree with them or not.  We are also required to pay for the privilege of owning assets, even after we have paid a tax when we purchased them and the people who made them were taxed for the right to make them.  So are we really free?  Do we really have the right to own and retain the fruits of our labor?  That doesn’t appear to be the case.  Do you think you own your real estate?  Go without paying your taxes and see if you do. In fact, look at your deed…it names you as a TENANT!

Let’s move on to the family unit.  Surely we are free there, right?  But wait, if you want to get married, you need permission from…you guessed it…the government!  Suppose they don’t like the choice you make; can they deny your right to get married?  Nah, they would NEVER do that, right?  Or would they?  There was a time when interracial marriages were outlawed, but we have moved past that, right?  What about gay marriage?  It may not be my choice, but if you don’t have the right to choose for me, how do I have the right to choose for you?  And why do we need permission from the government to select a given mate anyway? (Hint, it goes back to the taxes thing, but I digress)

Surely there is freedom of speech, at least in the USA, right?  Really?  And what exactly IS freedom of speech?  Some say that we have the right within limits but the public good trumps our right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater.  Others say that we have the right to speak freely as long as we don’t practice “hate speech.”  I say, you have the right to say whatever you like….BUT you are responsible for the result.  That is what freedom is…it is a proverbial double-edged sward, with responsibility being the other side of the blade.  Whatever you do, you own.  Whatever you say, you must take the credit for.  Words have domino effects.  They are the seeds of ideas.  You can plant beautiful flowers in the minds of others or you can plant noxious weeds.  As an individual, it is your choice to make.  But if you yell “fire” in the middle of a crowd and people or property get hurt, it is your fault and your responsibility to atone for your actions.

So the point of this blog is to inspire free thought, to share ideas, to reflect the concept that our Founding Fathers believed in.  In fact, their conviction was so deep that they risked their lives to cross an ocean for the chance to think like free people.  If the posts inspire you to rethink your concept of freedom then I have planted the seed.  You may end up where you started, believing that the application of freedom is limited based on the “greater good” or you may alter your outlook.  Either way, the choice is yours in your reality, just as it is mine in my world.  I don’t ask you to agree with me (or to disagree), I only ask you to look honestly at the world around you, question everything, take nothing for granted, and make up your own mind.