"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." George Washington
Welcome to the Slaughterhouse, America!!
By Nicholas Meyeres
More often than not, Americans have the tendency to want to say that “freedom isn’t free”, or talk about the "cost of freedom" as justification for sacrificing some liberties. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Take faith for instance. No government should prohibit you or prevent you from ever practicing the faith of your choosing. Having said that, by that very same principle, it shouldn't mandate that you accept or practice one religion over another, either. Too many other countries do as much.
The Islamic doctrine in Iran for instance became law right around the time I was born. In essence, it proposes to steamroll everyone in the country to embrace only one religion, regardless of any individual’s personal belief system or morality. Incidentally, that also includes mandatory prayer in a public school setting- something a lot of Christian Americans call for very loudly these days. But that’s why we aren’t Iran, and that's the very reason we have an establishment clause to the First Amendment of our Constitution.
It is the charge of no government to force religion upon its citizens, regardless of whether that religion is Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or lack thereof. In fact, just as important as the right to free speech in this country, freedom of religion and the establishment clause is GUARANTIED by that First Amendment of the Constitution, and should always be honored. That’s why we should endeavor to recognize faith for what it is- a private and very personal choice for each and every individual. After all, isn't that the basic definition of freedom- the power to act, speak, or think as one wishes to without hindrance or restraint from anyone, including one’s own government?
But there is still opposition to this way of thinking. Sadly it is from the one group of individuals whom you would think would champion that cause more than any other- from none other than the church itself. To my mind every church in the free world should be thanking those of us who are willing to stand up and fight for separation of church and state, not against us. After all, wasn’t it England who was run by the church and who burned heretics alive before we seceded from that country to form our own?
As a result, our founders and framers decided to not repeat that monstrous mismanagement of justice by subjugating its people with a state sponsored religion. They knew that religion never elevates the state, but that the state somehow does seem to always demean the religion. That's why every theocracy in recorded human history has become a tyranny.
Still, many Christian Americans say that it isn't fair that the church doesn't have a true say in how the government is owned and operated. Don’t THEY have the right to free speech, as well? Not in so many words exactly.
Individual voters pay taxes, and in exchange, we are allowed the right to inform the government on how it should be run. But in return for not being able to do the same, the church doesn't have to pay taxes and is therefore exempt from most Federal and State laws. It’s an adequate exchange I think, even though it is true that IF churches did pay taxes, our National deficit would most likely be wiped out almost overnight.
But yet, because no one church has a vested power in the government, every religion and denomination is afforded the right to flourish and prosper in this great country of ours, which is the very reason there are more churches here in the United States than anywhere else in the entire world. All thanks to "separation of church and state".
Unfortunately, some church leaders I am sure feel that if they ran the government, it would be run much better and smoother, not to mention much more “moral” than it currently is. They would also have you believe that there is in reality no such thing as separation of church and state, and that the First Amendment applies mainly to their religion and not my lack of one. I say, “If you want a voice in how the government is to be run, then you should pay your fair share of taxes just like every other American citizen.” However, more often than not these same church leaders will run to their separate houses of god yelling, “You can't tax the church, it's against separation of church and state!”
Ironic or not, you can’t have it both ways. In fact, the bottom line is: If you want the same rights each and every American citizen is guaranteed in order to shape the government as they see fit, you have to pay that same burden as a citizen. That's simply how it works.
So, yes- separation of church and state is indeed the church's best friend regardless of what they would have us believe. Besides, it's all that stands between them and their absolute worst nightmare: Finding out that some OTHER religion has the power to tell THEM what to do.
And freedom? As opposed to what you may have been told- it IS free. Every bit of it. After all, in the long run, it doesn't cost you nearly as much as you gain. And that's why it’s "FREE"!