Here in the United States of America and around the world, the freedom of religion, speech and the press are among the most important components in the foundation of a free society.
Amendment I of the Constitution states clearly, “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.”
I have long since known and deeply appreciated this freedom in the land that I love. I am now more concerned than ever that these freedoms are in jeopardy.
Cheryl Chumley of The Washington Times this week writes, “President Donald Trump has been booted permanently from Twitter. Parler, the low censorship, zero censorship alternative to Twitter has been suspended from Google, Apple, Amazon. What’s to keep Amazon from booting books by George Orwell? Or books about Founding Fathers. Or, get this, copies of Founding Fathers’ documents, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? Other retail could quickly follow this censorship route, or else face the possibility of losing their app store presences on Apple, on Google. Truly, the censorship possibilities are endless. Stores that sell Bibles could be shuttered. The Bible itself could be banned.”
She continues... “And for those currently cheering, think on this, the writings of Martin Niemoller, who initially supported Adolf Hitler until he experienced first-hand the dictatorial surveillance tactics of the Nazi regime: ‘First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.
Political tools and useful idiots only last as long as their usefulness. The censors will one day turn on their cheerleaders. But by then, it could be too late. By then, there may be no one left to speak.”
On June 20, 1785, James Madison, in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, wrote, “The equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the declaration of those rights, which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basis and foundation of government.”
What Madison suggested and what was embraced by not only the Virginia legislature, but our young nations as well, established a worldwide principle of religious freedom. A freedom with worldwide significance, which is still understood and appreciated to this day.
Here in America, unlike other places in the world, our founding documents say that our rights come to us from God and not government. We have them because of our creator, not our group. If rights because of your group are what you are interested in, you’ll need to move to another country to find those.
The premise of our nation’s founding is clearly defined, “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.”
If it is suggested that Americans’ rights are based on anything else, reject the premise and stand for truth.
Jedidiah Morse, a historian of the American Revolution wrote, “To the kindly influence of Christianity, we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. All efforts made to destroy the foundations of our holy religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government and all the blessings which flow from them must fall with them.”
President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address reminded America, “An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection. So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion, but what’s important.”
I can’t think of anything more important to the future of our beloved nation than freedom. If we fail to keep first things first in America, then nothing else may matter.
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council, who writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.