The First Amendment Does Still Exist, You Know

Politics really annoys me these days.  Politicians are very, very high on my gripe meter right now, so when I see yet another politician doing something stupid, I admit, it sets me off a little bit.

I read this article today and got all fired up.  The First Amendment, in which we lowly American citizens are granted this little thing called freedom of religion (as well as freedom of speech, assembly, press, and petition), does in fact still exist.  There is still this concept of separation of church and state, even though this is apparently not specifically stated in the Constitution (the concept, as far as I can tell, relies on the First Amendment to address the separation, though I’m the first to admit I’m not a great scholar of government).

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.

Some of you may have heard of the event held by Rick Perry, the governor of Texas.  This event, called The Response, was a day of fasting and prayer and a very, very Christian event.  What I didn’t know before I read this article was that Perry not only attended the event, but he coordinated, organized, and advertised The Response and used his position as a public figure to do so.

Does this man have the right to believe what he wants as his religion?  Absolutely.  Does he even have the right to talk about and discuss his beliefs in public?  Sure, as long as his speech isn’t hate speech.  But I think he severely crossed the line for a member of government to not only participate in but be so heavily involved in an event of this nature.  An event that is blatantly Christian and is essentially telling everyone else in America that they have it wrong and The Response has it right.  An excerpt from The Response’s website:

As a nation, we must come together, call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy according to His grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. A historic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands a historic response from the church. We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers. The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer – the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name.

Our hope is found in the One who might turn towards our nation in its time of great need – if we, as a nation would turn to Him in repentance, prayer, and fasting. The call of God to His people in times of great trouble is to gather together and call on Him with one voice, one heart, and a unified desire to see great blessing and great glory come to our nation again. The power of unified prayer from a humble gathering of the saints is found in the hope that He might answer us, and turn the tide of trouble and threats that stand against us.

And this man is going to run for president?!?  How can anyone trust that he won’t repeat actions like this if he should get into the White House?  How can anyone vote for someone who apparently doesn’t even understand that a politician is responsible for more people than just the ones who happen to agree with his personal beliefs?  I could never in good conscience vote for someone like this–I could never fully trust that he wouldn’t try to impose his beliefs on other people or abuse his office to host or endorse events like The Response.

This isn’t just an issue for Pagans.  It’s an issue for Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, indigenous faiths–basically, anyone who isn’t Christian, or who isn’t defined as a part of these ultra-conservative, rather powerful Christian groups who feel it is not only acceptable but necessary to push their faith onto other people and create little carbon copies of themselves with conversions.  While I would not call them dangerous, or a threat, I would label them as a big concern to anyone who does not fall into the narrow category of “a good Christian.”

Can you imagine if someone like Rick Perry or Sarah Palin actually got elected president?  While they may have to work hard to get their religious objectives passed as actual legislation, I think the debt debate has shown that the ultra-conservative radical religious politicians can actually have power in Washington if no one is willing to step up to them and call them on what they’re doing.  Because what they are doing, what they are proposing, are measures that are in fact not only very wrong, but very illegal in terms of the First Amendment and freedom of religion.


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