I don’t care if you’re liberal, conservative, progressive, straight, gay, atheist, or Christian, without the first amendment, our nation is not free. Without it, we descend into fascism and totalitarianism. Without it, we are not the United States of America. The amendment reads:
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.
When a private citizen engaged in commerce utters a moral or religious opinion, and government authorities PUNISH him, we no longer live in America. When that opinion conforms with traditional values espoused throughout the history of America, we are doubly in danger. When that opinion represents a Judeo-Christian worldview and is punished BY GOVERNMENT, we are ALL in trouble.
The PEOPLE give government officials their power; the US and State Constitutions limit that power. That power can in no case diminish our liberties, especially our freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
Yet that is exactly what is happening before our eyes in the Chick-Fil-A controversy.
It is one thing to boycott; that is our right. It is our right to organize legal protests. It is right to voice our disagreement. It is right to rally voters to fill legislatures with lawmakers sympathetic to our causes. Private citizens and groups can make all the noise they like. They can take their business elsewhere. That is our right. That is our great freedom in this land. That is the diversity that makes America great.
But when GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS use the power of office to PUNISH an opinion that deviates from theirs, when they DESTROY a person’s or a group’s right to make a living, when they COERCE citizens against their conscience, we are no longer free. A narrow view of pretended-diversity has become a cudgel to bludgeon outliers. Tolerance? Only in the fantasy of Orwellian double-speak.
What’s to stop Mayor Emmanuel (Chicago) from hindering the proclamation of the gospel? What’s to stop government from punishing the message of faith alone in Christ alone? What’s to stop Sharia law? If Chick-Fil-A can be punished for its CEO’s opinion, by what principle can any private citizen or group articulate an unpopular or contrary opinion without fear? Unchecked government power already threatens to force the Catholic Church to pay for abortions, and to coerce private Catholic hospitals to perform them — against conscience. What’s next, jail time for pastors who refuse to officiate same-sex marriages?
My point is that citizens enjoy rights that government officials, acting from office, do not. That is the essence of our American system.
In ancient Athens, a city of the Roman Empire, philosophers gathered on Mars Hill to enjoy debate — religious, political, philosophical, and moral. TRUE DIVERSITY existed, and competing views were easily aired. At the end of the day, the thoughtful crew enjoyed cold beverages together and went their way, no harm done.
Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:17-21, NKJV).
Here’s the result:
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. (Acts 17:32, 33, NKJV).
That is diversity.
No opinion-staters were harmed during the production of that meeting.
Were Christians of the Roman Empire more free to express an opinion than Christians today in the USA?
There may come a day when the shoe is on the other foot; when conservatives enjoy majorities in Congress. On that day, I pledge to fight for true diversity. I will fight for my gay friends’ right to make a living and for my atheist friends’ right to be free from government’s attempts to cram religion down their throats. I may not agree with what you say or believe, but I will fight for your right to say it and believe it. The pendulum of public opinion swings both ways. Let it. And keep those in government on their leashes.
We have more to fear from unchecked government officials than from criminals.
Actually, what’s the difference?