While searching for something else this morning, I ran across my little pocket-sized copy of The Constitution of the United States. I brought it back to my recliner and started looking through it. I’d forgotten how dry and detailed some of it is. My hat is off to anyone specializing in the study of Constitutional law.
This small booklet opens naturally to the very middle, which is where the Amendments to the Constitution begin. As I hope most of you already know, the first ten are the Bill of Rights.
After reading some of the dry detailed other parts of the Constitution, the first amendment was wonderfully straight forward:
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 peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What too many people don’t realize is that the statement regarding freedom of religion was included for a very specific reason. Several of the colonies had a state-dictated religion. The founders of my church, Winn’s Baptist Church, had been beaten or jailed during colonial days for preaching illegally here in Virginia, where only the Anglican Church was recognized and tolerated.
So the framers of the Bill of Rights were making certain that Congress would not be guilty of establishing a state church the way England had done with the Anglican church. And Congress wouldn’t prevent people from worshiping freely at their choice of churches.
Did you notice the key word in that amendment? Congress. The Constitution of the United States doesn’t say anything about protecting people from religion, a concept that has become a real thorn in the side of this country and of the various states. Neither does it prohibit the practice of religion, even in government meetings or schools. It certainly doesn’t forbid the display of nativity sets in public places or the placement of the Ten Commandments (upon which all law is based) in courtrooms or anywhere else.
Yet our First Amendment rights are under attack daily. How can that happen when the meaning of the First Amendment is so clear?
The Supreme Court is largely to blame, although Congress and “We the People” have allowed the Court to do it. The Constitution originally contained 4,543 words, including the signature of the signers. The addition of the amendments brings the total to 7,591. Decisions made by the Supreme Court have expanded its interpreted meaning to many hundreds of pages.
The Harvard Law Review published a scary article called “The Constitution Means What the Supreme Court Says It Means.” And too many Supreme Court Justices openly ignore the text of the Constitution and apply their own biases to create meanings that are completely contrary to the Constitution. When liberal justices are in the majority, that happens more and more.
Several months ago I wrote that the most important reason for Americans to vote in the November election was to select a president who would appoint only conservative justices who are committed to upholding the Constitution. The president-elect has promised to do that. Appointing a conservative to the bench will result in a conservative majority–one we can count on to uphold the Constitution and make decisions based on it.
I pray daily that God will enable that to happen.
This is a controversial subject, but your comments are welcome.
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