Separation of Church and State?
Is there really a separation of church and state and has the current administration honored it? Have Democrats around the country been stepping on our rights to Religious freedom?
In February, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and said, “It’s also clear that around the world, freedom of religion is under threat…..No society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its people, including religious minorities.”
But is that being practiced here in the United States? Are our religious freedoms being taken from us one day at a time? We continue to see case after case where this “separation” has been challenged.
Recently in Houston, the mayor, Annise Parker, started quite a firestorm when she demanded local pastors be served with subpoenas in regards to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), signed into law in May. The subpoenas were issued after a law suit was filed by the pastors over a provision in the ordinance which would allow men, who identify as women, to use women’s bathrooms.
In a recent article by Dylan Baddour of PolitiFact, Texas, Parker instructed officials to issue subpoenas to local pastor’s requesting:
“All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, (HERO), the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
“All communications with members of your congregation regarding HERO or the petition.” (writings, notes, diaries, electronic or videotape recordings, emails, instant messages, text messages.)“
Jared Woodfill, who is representing the pastors said, "This is a mayor who has waged a full-scale war on the churches in Harris County. These pastors are standing up and saying enough is enough and we are not going to allow it to happen on our watch.”
In response to the mayor’s actions, more than 1,000 bibles were sent to Parker’s office in protest. In a press conference today, Parker announced that she is directing the legal department to withdraw the subpoenas.
Meanwhile in California, Governor Gerry Brown is demanding that all employers, including churches, offer and pay for elective abortion through their health insurance policies. The LifeLegal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom are representing 7 churches in a lawsuit against the requirement. Casey Mattox, an attorney with Alliance, said, “Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the most unimaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms. California is flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans. No state can blatantly ignore federal law and think that it should continue to receive taxpayer money.”
In Idaho, city officials have demanded that ordained ministers must celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time. One case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Chapel. They refused to marry a same-sex couple and as a result are now facing a 180 day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they refuse to marry the couple. The city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has a non discrimination statute and recently the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage between and man and a woman. Based on this, the city feels the Knapp’s should be forced to perform the marriage even though it goes against their religious beliefs. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion arguing that this action “violates first and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, substantive due process and equal protection.”
In 2011, family members, visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, were prohibited from bringing Bibles or any religious reading materials to their loved ones. When the policy was challenged by Representative Steve King, (R-IA), the medical facility rescinded the policy.
In 2013, The Alliance for Religious Liberty outlined many examples where the military restricted religious expression. In one extreme example, thousands of soldiers received “equal opportunity training,” where "Evangelical, Christians, Catholics and Orthodox Jews were classified as ‘Religious Extremists’ comparable to the KKK and Al Qaeda. Those attending the training were also told, in writing, that they could not support these extreme organizations by fund-raising, recruiting, attending meetings, organizing or distributing literature.“
In a letter by the Alliance, they stated, "In other words, thousands of soldiers were told that they could not go to church, lead Sunday School, tithe, share their faith, or give out Bibles.”
Congressman John Fleming, (R-LA), introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure religious freedom for service members and chaplains. The Amendment passed the House Armed Services Committee and another passed the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, President Obama said the additional provisions were “unnecessary and ill-advised.” His advisors recommended he veto the Religious Liberty Amendment.
We, as Americans must understand and demand that our constitutional rights be upheld by the very government, that was elected by the people, and for the people. The United States Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by the Committee of five, states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Have these infringements on our religious rights been equally enforced? Have the same demands been made on local Mosques or Temples? Has our government become so politically correct that they create special privileges for some while infringing on the rights of others?
As Americans, we must insist, even with changing times, that the constitutional rights granted us by the founding fathers of this great nation, must remain intact. Our government must protect the “unalienable rights.” without caving to special interest groups, political favor, or a deteriorating morality. We must not allow the government to enforce or mandate any religious doctrines, not tell us how or what to believe. Although it is not written in the constitution, we have the unalienable right to a separation of church and state.