Magazine article Church & State

A Timely Reminder: Yes, Religious Freedom Is for All of Us

Magazine article Church & State

A Timely Reminder: Yes, Religious Freedom Is for All of Us

Article excerpt

We shouldn't have to say that the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom is for everyone Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, Pagan, nonbeliever, etc. It's obvious this is the case.

We shouldn't have to say it, but sometimes we do because fringe figures connected with the Religious Right are trying to convince Americans otherwise. They could not be more wrong.

Most recently, Bryan Fischer, who runs a radio show for the American Family Association, told his audience, "The blunt, simple, direct, straightforward answer is that Wiccans do not have First Amendment rights, nor do Muslims, nor do Jews, nor do Native Americans, nor do Rastafarians, nor do any practitioners of any other religion other than Christianity."

Fischer added, "Whatever the First Amendment is about, whatever protections it extends in the federal Constitution, those were just for Christianity. Christianity has First Amendment rights under the federal Constitution, no other religion does."

What is Fischer's evidence for this startling claim? He doesn't have any. And the reason he doesn't have any is because what he said isn't even remotely connected to the truth.

Nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights do we find any language singling out Christianity for special treatment. Nor is there any language implying that some faiths would have more freedoms than others. Just the opposite is true.

More evidence is found in the history behind the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, which scholars acknowledge had a profound impact on the wording of the First Amendment. …

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