The Catholic faith teachings freedom is a gift God gives to every person. In this fourth excerpt from my, TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST series, I complete the discussion about constitutional rights (which began in part three). We continue to examine the important question: Does God want us to be Free?
You can read the first part of this stream by pressing HERE.
OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS
Protecting our liberties is so essential that the freedom to speak receives high treatment—and that applies to speech vocally and in writing. Today, many laws are passed under the umbrella of hate speech. If a person holds opinion X, some legislation considers it unlawful hate speech, the person is condemned. It is difficult to overstate the societal dangers contained in this new national trend to make thoughts illegal and to legislate that opinions are more debased in their nature than criminal acts. Albeit, some people do indeed hold vile views, yet thoughts are not actions. When we start declaring another person’s thoughts illegal (no matter how despicable), it is a matter of time before our opinions are banned or are somehow legally marginalized. When will various beliefs held by churches fall under hate-crime investigation (thereby usurping our Constitutional right to free expression of religion and speech)?
If we allow the narrative of the Separation of Church and State to continue, what recourse do people of faith have to prevent the state from dictating what churches will teach? Many of our ancestors fled Europe to live a free life here and to practice their religion without interference from the State. Why would we allow the State to do to us that which our ancestors came here to escape? Are these distortions of our rights a reflection of what our founders warned us of with passionate clarity?
OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES:
Is there any real recourse for a redress of our grievances? Our government is so vast and bloated; it is so cut-off from the people and sheltered from everyday working people, that meaningful redress of grievances has become nearly impossible. Forged from a kettle of strife, the USA, in the early days, did not look as if it would come to fruition. We owe our founding fathers and citizens an enormous debt, a debt we can best repay by ensuring we pass on the freedoms they bled and died for—everything the founders fought for will have been lost if we allow our freedoms to disappear.
We have taken a brief journey through the United States founding and through Biblical accounts, all to shine a bright light on the cause of liberty—a cause too many people today take for granted. We must respect and cherish freedom—it is a precious and tenuous gift from God. We must constantly ask the critical question: Does God want us to be free?
Liberty can be lost!
In seconds, high winds can blow roofs from houses, and the same holds true for liberty—we can lose it in a flash of time. The loss of personal freedoms can slowly drift away, piece-by-piece until one-day people wake and realize they are no longer free (think of the ancient Israelites in Egypt). Through the lens of history, we see it often takes only a small step to go from freedom to slavery. Consider:
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.[Benjamin Franklin]
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. [Thomas Paine]
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. [Martin Luther King, Jr.]
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
[James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788]
The citizens of the United States fit the frog in the pot analogy. If you toss a frog into a boiling pot of water, the frog will instinctively leap away from the scalding water. However, if you place a frog in a pot filled with cold water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will boil to death. Like the frog, are we allowing our freedoms to boil away? Please consider the following questions:
What will life in this country be like if we will enable the government to pass laws governing the free practice of religion?
What will life in this country be like if our government holds power to decide which innocent lives should live or die? In other words, is it not true that life is a fundamental right in our nation, and that the State has no business deciding when innocent people should live or die?
It is not hard to recognize the frog in the pot analogy at work in our nation today. Sadly, many levels of our system have fallen prey to the slow boiling away of our national history. When people start relying heavily on the State for help in all areas of their life, it cannot be long before the country begins to think it is entitled to tell us how to live in all aspects.
We already see a growing hostility toward faith in general and Christianity specifically. Much of that hostility comes from people who feel equality is more important than liberty. However, without freedom, we will not be able to live as we desire, and we will not be able to worship as we want.
Consider how the following issues have worked out for other nations in history:
• Where religion is controlled by the state, with the state mandating that all religions propagate teachings that conform to the state’s way of thinking.
• Where the state dictates the number of children each family can bear.
• Where the state dictates the cars we will drive, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat.
• Where the state controls worker salaries.
• Where the state dictates the type, size, and location of our homes.
• Where the state dictates the location for children to attend school and their curriculum.
Perhaps those points seem extreme. Some might laugh and say, “That can never happen in the United States.” Do those naysayers think regular citizens living under historically evil dictators had any clue about the horrors their leaders intended to bring upon the world?
Thank you for reading,