Obama’s “Freedom of Worship” Leaves Christians as Second-Class Citizens
Obama's war on Christianity is ramping up, as his bureaucrats rewrite the First Amendment itself.
Words matter, both in God’s law and in man’s. The framers of our Constitution drafted the First Amendment to read:
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.
Those are among the loveliest words ever penned in the English language. Now let’s edit out one of them: “no.” Go read it again, with “no” crossed out. Suddenly, you live in a completely different country, some place more like Iran, or Venezuela.
An infamous printer’s error in 1631 resulted in thousands of copies produced and sold (before someone noticed) of the “Wicked Bible,” in which Exodus 20:14 reads, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
Well, the Obama administration has just issued the “Wicked Constitution.” As The Daily Signal reports:
A Republican senator from Oklahoma pressed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson at a hearing Wednesday about why the U.S. is “misrepresenting” Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion to immigrants who are applying to become U.S. citizens.
“We in the United States actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told Johnson yesterday during a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing.
Lankford was referring to the department’s decision to include “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion” as a basic American right listed in the civics test that all immigrants must take to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
What’s the difference, you might ask. Isn’t it just semantics? No, friends, it is part of a plan, whose intent is to whittle away our constitutional freedom as Christians to live our faith. For years, Hillary Clinton and others on the left — lawyers and politicians who choose their words very carefully — have been speaking of “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion.” They have their reasons. As I warned back in 2011:
It is only by the thinnest of threads that the Church still has the right to teach the biblical doctrine on sexuality and practice it in its institutions. In Britain, Catholic adoption agencies had to close because the Church’s teaching doesn’t measure up to Leviathan’s standards. If it weren’t for the political muscle of Evangelical Protestants, we’d face the same situation in America. We may soon, anyway; higher courts have upheld the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ official denunciation of Catholic teaching on homosexual adoption. How many Democratic appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court will it take before the First Amendment ceases to shelter us? As former senator Rick Santorum warned in his talk last month at the Harvard Club, influential voices like Hillary Clinton’s are already switching the language in which they describe the First Amendment. Instead of “free exercise of religion,” Clinton has started speaking of “freedom of worship.”
Those two things are very different; free exercise means that Christians, Jews or Hindus can pursue the implications of their faith in the public square. Christians can fight abortion and pornography; Jews can lobby to keep America’s alliance with Israel; Hindus, if they wish, can push for tougher animal rights laws. Each group can pursue its religiously grounded values in law, provided they never cross the line of creating an “established church,” as banned by our First Amendment. Both good manners and good tactics, however, would urge each group to make arguments based not on revelation but reason — in terms of prudence and natural law.
“Freedom of worship” is something much closer to what the Muslims grudgingly permit the Christians in their midst: You can have your infidel services, so long as you don’t ring bells or attract too much attention. That is the kind of marginalization modern liberals wish on us. In Iraq, and Egypt, and Turkey, they have a name for it: dhimmitude.
On Wednesday, we learned what American dhimmitude could look like: Churches that won’t celebrate same-sex marriages, that won’t teach that such arrangements are part of God’s will, could lose their tax immunity. They could face the same civil fines as bakers and florists who won’t take part in the fabulous frenzy of dismantling human marriage. Such churches (and their schools) might soon be taxed, and fined, and regulated, as churches in Turkey are. Soon enough there would be restrictions about building them in the first place.
And if you think that can’t happen here, think back to 2005, and remember how likely you thought it was that by 2015, same-sex marriage would become the public orthodoxy, the litmus test of decency. Gay totalitarianism is accelerating fast. Those in the know have already started using the language that marginalizes freedom of religion. At this late date, why think they won’t back up their words with actions if given half a chance?