Constitution Voter Ediucation

We Have Freedom OF Religion, NOT Freedom FROM Religion

by Gus Faris, Director, Kingwood TEA Party, Inc., Secretary – Director

[NOTE: Gus wrote this but he speaks for all of the KWTP Directors and Advisory Board Members in attendance. Thank you, Gus for so eloquently stating our outrage at Ms. Longnion’s misunderstanding of this important doctrine, and our disgust at the lack of a means to correct it right then and there.–rhl]

Thomas JeffersonLast week I had the good fortune to attend the Candidate Forum for Humble ISD at the James Eggers Instructional Service Center on Tuesday evening. I would like to report on a hugely egregious error. First, the format was horrible. Questions were asked blindly of individual candidates without input from the others or from the floor.

Bonnie Longnion was asked what she would do in education to comply with the separation of church and state issue. Bonnie fumbled with the question attempting to describe freedom from religion and never really giving an answer except for her emphatic closing comment that the two are separate. Personally, I wanted to scream out, “WE HAVE FREEDOM OF RELIGION, NOT FREEDOM FROM RELIGION!” But, the audience had no voice at that time.

It truly frustrates me when people try to change the meaning of words to suit their own desires and expect the rest of us to follow like sheep. One little change, interpret the word of as if it were from. That is how the atheists start the conversation. And then when it has been stated and described in those terms over and over, we start to believe that freedom of really means freedom from and religion must be shunned by government. Well, I’m not going along with it.

There are two mentions of religion in the Constitution:

  1. The first is Article 6, Section 3 of the Constitution, which states, “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States“.
  2. The second is a clause called the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Many people have used Thomas Jefferson’s comment about the establishment clause when Jefferson wrote,

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State,’ as affirmation of this separation. But the entire section reads,

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,‘ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.’

All these men are truly attesting to one single issue – that there is a place for both religion and government, but that neither has the right to establish or rule the other. Many of our Founding Fathers or their immediate ancestors had recently escaped the bonds of state founded and supported religion. While they recognized that religion and sound government were both necessary, they were well aware of the recent religious wars in Europe, they were eager to prevent anything like that from happening in the United States, and the easiest way to do that was to simply separate religious and political authority.

Go back to Jefferson’s comment above, he clearly believed that religion was between a man and his God. Government had no sway over religion. He also believed that the legitimate powers of government were action items only, not opinions, and certainly not opinions of what faith others should follow. He also believed that government should not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

George Washington went further in his farewell address of September, 1796. Washington called religion, as the source of morality, “a necessary spring of popular government.” John Adams claimed that statesmen “may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.

Government is clearly the set of rules by which we run our society. In order for those rules to be just, they must have a moral basis. Consequently, the government must be based on morals. Government does not give us morals. Religion gives us morals. God teaches us to recognize right and wrong. And it is with that moral teaching that we establish our government. Certainly good government is essentially entwined with religion in order to be endowed with moral guidance. But neither entity can rule the other. People must be free to seek God with their own conscious while those same people establish societal rules for the good of all the people being governed. Two separate paths entwined for individual freedom and establishment of a state. That is what the Constitution establishes.

That is what is meant by freedom OF religion. That is what is meant by separation of church and state. There is no basis for banning religion from the government. That is how Bonnie should have answered the question.

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The Kingwood TEA Party Advisory Board has published our recommendations based on interviews and discussions with many behind the scenes p3ople involved on a regular basis.

The KWTP Board proudly recommends Angela Conrad for Trustee, Pos. 3 to bring Humble Independent School District into the 21st Century!