Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Religious liberty is under assault in many ways. People of faith are mocked for their religious conscience and government sees religious values as obstacles to overcome rather than a value to cherish and protect. The First Amendment has been perverted to make America not a place of religious freedom, but a place free from it. They have taken the phrase “separation of church and state” that Thomas Jefferson used to make it clear that government was not to interfere with any religious practice, to instead do just the opposite, something he never intended nor does a true reading of the Constitution endorse. Some even argue that phrase is in the text of the Constitution when it is not.
We have moved from a nation that respected and defended freedom of religion to one that now avoids and scorns it, will not defend those who hold onto the cherished right given to us by our founders, and now, that government that is supposed to guarantee it, is preventing people from living out their faith in the public arena thus restricting instead of guaranteeing their free exercise of religion.
When a right as basic as those First Amendment ones of religious liberty and speech, is freely ignored and violated, that precedent will bode poorly for the rights of others. If such a critical part of our founding document can be ignored and violated, nothing in the Constitution is safe from abuse. A perfect example is the raw political use of Constitutional impeachment authority to attempt to remove a duly elected president whose only offense is having won the office against all odds and is of the opposite party that seeks his removal.
In addition to the second-class citizen status put on people of faith, there is persecution, hateful actions and even physical attacks on them, especially Christians, the most persecuted of all faiths. Recently there have been anti-Semitic attacks in New York, a church shooting in Texas and malicious burning of churches are happening regularly. It doesn’t stop there. Violence, drug, alcohol abuse and crime are impacting the entire population as the culture continues to decline. This is a logical outcome of taking the good out of society and replacing it with greed and selfishness. No town is too small or picturesque with its near empty white steepled churches to be immune from addiction and overdose deaths, crime and violence.
As the problems in society get worse, government grows in response, but the situation continues to worsen for government is incapable of fixing the problems. Government feeds on problems and gives liberals more excuse to tax more. It was as if President Adams was able to look into the future, probably with fear in his heart, as he viewed a land, inhabited by people who had lost their way, no longer recognized or even knew what the founding principles were that made America that city on a hill that provided a light for the world. He saw what would happen when people turned from God and moral living. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.” He has described the condition of our people today and how true it is that our government is not the solution for it is incapable of contending with the evil hearts of man.
How do we turn this around to get our great nation back on track? Our nation’s religious and moral beliefs are like a string that is used to fly a kite, that at first glance, seems to hold it down and prevent it from freely flying, but in fact is what holds it up and proof of that is had by letting go of the string. The kite senses it, dips and gyrates, then comes crashing to the ground. So, it is with our nation when we cut the string of our Christian religious beliefs. Some might see it as they first see the string, thinking it holds them back and is no fun, but the reality is, these keep people free from all sorts of enslavements and lets them fly high and free and have real joy. If you remember you still have the string in your hand and before the kite crashes, that if you run like the wind with that string, when you get the slack out, the kite will rise again to new heights. If we get back to the basics of moral living and put our faith in God and live according to His Word, America can experience a revival and we will recover and truly return to the founders intentions for our great nation!