It’s a concept enshrined in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution:
“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.”
Our founders often were people, or the descendants of people, who fled religious persecution in the countries they came from. The Puritans are just one example. That gave our founders a first hand understanding of what it was like to have government dictate how you were allowed to worship.
For the most part, Americans today take the non-interference of government in their religion for granted. They’ve never seen the oppression that is commonplace in other countries. Lebanon is a prime example. When Islamists were able to gain control there, they drove Christians underground with harassment and even death. Another example, to our shame, is when, during World War II, our president turned away Jews fleeing Hitler and his Nazis. Many of those Jews then fled to Latin America where, ironically, they were captured and sent to an internment camp in the southern USA.*
But, if you are a non-religious person, or, even an Atheist, you don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s unimportant to you if government makes laws regarding churches and the practices within. It has no relevance to your life. Right?
Your freedom to worship as you see fit is about far more than just what words and prayers and rituals you can participate in at church or synagogue. Your freedom to worship as you see fit is about you being able to think the thoughts and ideas you need to, as well as share them with others.
It’s about being a free, independent, and sovereign Individual unhindered by the whims of government bureaucrats and elected officials.
We see what government is capable of when they decide someone is thinking the ‘wrong’ thoughts. Look at what is being said and threatened against people who do not accept the government’s narrative that Man is the driving factor for global climate change. Look at what the IRS did to those applying for tax exempt status but with the wrong political ideas. Remember when government essentially fined a family run bakery out of existence because they refused to compromise their conscience? Even government employees are expected to toe the ideological line. A southern California county literally demands an employee fill out a ‘Declination of Influenza Vaccine’ when that employee demurs from getting their ‘free’ injection.** The list is as endless as there are those who stand up to think for themselves and be labeled heretics rather than accept the government’s diktats.
Our freedom to think as we see fit is fundamental to a free and prosperous society.
When you see some person advocating taxing or taking control of churches and their sermons, remember the churches and the people in them are not the only ones at risk.
You are too.
** DOPH Policy P-2 Rev. 09/16