First Amendment
February 28, 2013, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Culture, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

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

I had said a while ago that I was going to do some blogging on the Amendments to the Constitution and so I wrote yesterday on the 2nd Amendment, now today I want to go back to the 1st Amendment. This amendment restricts the Federal Government, Legislative branch from establishing a National religion. Now at the time this was written this country was a Christian nation, true there were Jewish synagogues, but the nation was made up of people who were Christian. The founders remembered what it was like in European nations, mostly in England and France. In England when a new king or queen ascended to the throne, whatever faith group they belonged to become the dominant religion. So they actually had wars between the Catholic and Protestant groups. Henry the VIII (8th) established the Anglican or Church of England as the Church, and it was beholden to the crown for its subsistence.

In other European countries the same type of thing happened, in France the Huguenots were almost completely wiped out, in Germany it was the Lutherans and the Catholics. In Spain there was a terrible time of persecution and many were killed. So from those countries came immigrants to the New World and settled in the different states, wanting only the freedom to worship God in their own way.

So with that historical reality behind them and a future free from oppression they wrote a wonderful Constitution, and then the Bill of Rights was set out as Amendments to the Constitution to make sure there would not be any doubt in anyones mind about the Unalienable rights granted to all men by God, not government. The problem happens though that as time goes on, we forget our history and we want to make changes to our founding documents. We don’t like the idea that the Constitution says, Congress cannot make any law that goes against the first amendment.

Let’s look at this First Amendment, what does it really say? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” It seems pretty clear, the Federal Legislature may not make any one denomination a national denomination, like what happened in Europe. You see along with declaring this or that denomination as the only one to be legal, the others became dissenters, while the one that was favored received compensation from the State, while the dissenters got no money from the state and had to fend for themselves. So in the United States, there would be no national church, the country was still heavily Christian, but all denominations were treated equally. In addition to restricting the right of Congress to establishment of religion, they also said that Congress could not restrict the free exercise of each of the different denominations. Oh and nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about a wall of separation, a term we hear a lot about these days, but it doesn’t exist in the Constitution.

The very next thing it says in this First Amendment, is: “or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;” Wow, that means that you or I can say things like, the Government is really pushing hard to take away our rights, and we are free to say that. In the time when this was written, Preachers would preach against what they saw as wrongs being perpetrated by the government, it was a freedom of speech issue and the founders were perfectly alright with that too. Then there is Freedom of the Press, now I don’t like a lot of the stuff I see on the nightly news, or in the newspapers, but then a Democratic Republic which is what this nation is, is not always going to be the way you or I like it or want it. That is also why we have lasted so long as a free and sovereign people.

Now for that last part of the First Amendment: “or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Remember when Obamacare was still out there and people were complaining loudly about it, that was the time when our politicians held town hall meetings and caught all sorts of grief from their constituents, they still voted it into law, but they knew that people were really angry about it. Remember the huge rallies that the Tea Party held, that was the right of the people to peaceably to assemble. They were peaceful and they cleaned up after themselves too. We do have the right to come together to talk and even to petition our Government looking for them to hear our grievance and do something about that problem.

Now that is the First Amendment to the Constitution, it gives us rights, and restricts the Federal Government from messing with those rights. The problem I see is that our right to practice our religion in public has been greatly infringed, not only by government, but by our schools, and by the courts. What do you think about this, what is it we should be doing to stop the erosion of our rights as citizens of this nation? We are a free and sovereign people, we are not serfs of the Federal Government, it is, in my estimation, time that our elected representatives began to represent us instead of their own pocketbooks. What do you think?

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