Right off, that’s going to anger a lot of people.
Too bad. Them’s the breaks and they’re facts, not ‘alternative facts‘ (which are lies, BTW).
“The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.”
Remember that quote from this post about the First Amendment being attacked? Well, it’s time to expand on that like I said I would.
So, our country has what you call (and is stated above, in our constitution) “separation of church and state“. As stated above, that means that the government cannot pass legislation to establish an official religion, meaning that, while you can argue that the US has roots that come from Christian beliefs, it is not a Christian nation.
And it never will be. At least, not without ceasing to be the USA.
There’s also another part of that statement, saying that the government won’t pass legislation showing preference over one religion over another.
Now, clearly, if you’ve been paying attention at all in the last, oh, forever, that’s not been held true. Meaning that, pretty much since its inception, the United States has been violating its own constitution.
These violations have slowly been rolled back, but over the last decade or three, there’s been a bit of a snag… A snag called the religious right.
Also known as the evangelical right, the religious right (herein referred to as RR) is primarily made up of Christians who seek to impose their will and religious beliefs onto others. I could put it more delicately, but that’s what it is.
When you look at civil rights specifically, it becomes more and more clear that this is what’s happening.
With women’s rights, the right to vote, choose her healthcare, make choices about her body, etc. so on and so forth, opponents to these basic freedoms are almost always combatted with religious beliefs. (I’m going to stick with the ones I know best, so the right to vote is, unfortunately, not going to be discussed in-depth.)
- Control of healthcare, specifically, but not limited to, birth control (including permanent birth control in the form of a hysterectomy).
- Back in 2014, Hobby Lobby, the craft store, brought a case to court in an, unfortunately successful, attempt to stop being required to pay for women’s healthcare if they chose to use contraceptives.
- They argued under the principle that, because the owners of the company are religious, the law that mandated them to provide health insurance (the Affordable Care Act) was prohibiting religious freedoms, which would be in violation of the First Amendment. However, because HL is a corporation, which is very clearly not a human being, this is somewhat baffling.
- Now, yes, corporations are given certain rights and protections. However, religion should not be one of them. Religion is an individual belief system; not a set of bylaws. Moreover, you cannot refuse to hire someone on the basis of religion.
- Choices for one’s own body. (This one also has to do with birth control, albeit in the form of abortion – which is only technically birth control.)
- Combatants of abortion, purveyors of the anti-choice* movement, often tout religious morality as a reason to prohibit a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body.
*They are anti-choice, not ‘pro-life’. More on this in a future post.
These are two of the biggest issues with women’s rights. Also a huge issue is the pay gap between women and men, but if I get into that, I’m going to be here for hours.
(Note: I’d planned to speak about LGBTQ+ rights, but decided not to simply because of time and because I could, and plan to, make an entire post about this very large swath of issues.
I also plan on making a post expanding on my post about feminism with a more in-depth look at women’s rights. I just had a thought with that post and accomplished it. Also coming up is a post about POC (specifically Black) rights; that’s a very large, important issue that deserves its own post.)
So, back to the issue of how the RR wants to impose their will and beliefs on you.
Hobby Lobby brought up a court case citing religious freedom in order to skirt around a mandate that required them to treat women like human beings and provide them health insurance that covered them adequately.
Far and wide, opponents of allowing women to decide what they want to do with their bodies, cite religious morality in attempts, sometimes successful, sometimes not, to bar women from having full autonomy over their bodies.
Getting back to the main issue at hand, when you look at these examples, just two of many, it becomes increasingly clear that the US has been, sometimes successfully, disregarding the Constitution by using religious beliefs to make laws, in clear violation of the Establishment Clause.
Look at the recent Muslim ban: the Trump Administration attempted to bar people coming from seven Muslim majority countries and putting Christians in those countries ahead in the priority list.
Again, clear violation of the Establishment Clause. Which is why it was shut down by judges.
I don’t really have a point to this post, to be perfectly honest with you. I could go on and on and on, citing parts of our history, times when laws were made that violated the Constitution and when they were (or weren’t) found unconstitutional, but I’d be here for days. Literally.
I’m also trying to keep these posts on the short-ish side and I’m already approaching 1000 words. (Sorry. Gotta keep it real.)
I guess, if I had to make a point for this post, I’d say this: we still have a lot further to go. And, unfortunately, with the current Administration, it’s much more likely that we go backwards rather than forwards.
The clock never stops ticking. The fight never ends. But, still, we persist.
Yesterday, 2/24/17, the government itself, specifically the Trump Administration, attacked the First Amendment, which includes our right to freedom of expression, most commonly referred to as freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition.
So, immediately, that’s a lot of information. Let me break it down for you simply. (Source for this section, here.)
Under the First Amendment, you are given the right to freedom of:
- Expression, AKA Freedom of Speech: “The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government.”
- Possible prohibitions: “speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence”
- Press: The allowance of “an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination”. (Note: this does fall under freedom of expression.)
- Religion: This is a two-parter: establishment and free exercise.
- Establishment: “The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” (This is important; I’ll be coming back to this in a later post.)”
- Free Exercise: “The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.”
- Assembly: “The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief.”
- Protesting, put simply. (There is a clear difference between protesting and rioting.)
- Also could possibly be interpreted from this is your right to go to church. (While also protected by the Free Exercise clause, this reinforces those protections.)
- Petition: “The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action.”
- This reinforces the right of assembly.
Okay, so you got all that? It’s very simple. I’ll sum it up for you further:
The First Amendment is where the bulk of your freedoms come from. It is the basic ideology of the United States of America.
There is a reason why it is the First Amendment and not the Second.
The First Amendment gives you your freedoms in America.
The Second Amendment gives you the capabilities to protect those freedoms.
Understand? It’s all really simple. Just go read the last five lines before this one, as many times as you need. It’s very important to understand what your rights are and where they come from. Take your time.
Understand this clearly: without the First Amendment, you do not have any true rights. You have the idea and illusion of rights.
Read those last two sentences again. Read them until you know every word by heart. Read them until you fully understand them. Get them tattooed on your arm if you have to.
Now, do you remember what I opened this with?
Yesterday, 2/24/17, the government itself, specifically the Trump Administration, attacked the First Amendment, (…)
Do you feel that chill in your spine? That sense of impending doom? That terrifying moment that shifts your entire world?
Good. That’s what you should feel.
“They say that we can’t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the First Amendment, you know, they always bring up the First Amendment.”
Those are the words of the Commander-In-Chief himself.
“But he’s not the government or his administration.”
To quote CIC himself and put it simply: Wrong.
The President is the government; he is his administration. He is not just one person any longer; he ceased to be a single person when he took that oath of office on January 20th, 2017. At the moment he said those words, he became an entity, an idea. He became the face of the government itself.
His very words are policy. His actions are government actions. They are actions on behalf of the United States, and it’s citizens.
The world does not consist of only the USA. The entire world is watching us. They are watching the words and actions of our government, and they are scared.
The entire world thinks us a laughingstock, but that does not mean that they are not taking us seriously.
The world knows what we can do, what we have done, and they see what we just did, what we are doing, and they are terrified.
The United States has long since been held in people’s minds as the place to go when you’re in trouble, when you want a better life; this is, in part, due to how we’ve held ourselves in high regard and treated our fellow humans in times of need.
They see us imploding; they see our rights slowly being eroded away.
They see our supposed leader disregarding our Constitution, our laws, our ideology, and they are wondering what will happen in their country.
If we, the supposed “greatest nation on Earth”, has this happening to it, what does that mean for their nations? If we go the way of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or any of the other infamous examples of toppled governments, what’s to stop them from following in our lead, as so many countries do on a myriad of issues?
Yes. We should be scared with our rights, our freedoms, being stripped away, but not just for ourselves.
We are standing on a precipice of history, a knife’s edge. How we uphold ourselves, and, indeed, our government, will shape the entire future of the world.
Are you ready?