What Does Religious Liberty Mean to You?


2014 - 09-27

Opinion:  Patricia L Johnson

The first day of the annual Values Voter Summit began on Friday, September 26, 2014 with leading Republicans getting together to speak at a gathering of evangelical conservatives.

Their theme for the day was ‘Religious Liberty’ and it will probably be the theme that will be carried forward throughout the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race.

So, what is “Religious Liberty”?  When I think of religious liberty the First Amendment to the Constitution immediately comes to mind which reads:

Amendment I

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.

Not sure what that means to others, but what it means to me is  the United States Congress does not have the right, or authority, to interfere in any way whatsoever with our religious freedoms.  In other words, we can worship any God, or God’s that we choose, we can attend, or not attend, any church of our choice, and we can believe, or not believe, in whatever, or whoever we choose as our higher power and Members of the United States Congress can do nothing to stop us.

Five of the speakers at the summit may be planning on running in the 2016 presidential election, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,  Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.  While all five were warmly accepted by the crowd, Senator Cruz  appeared to get the most favorable response with his ‘plan to win’.

“How do we win? We defend the values that are American values,” Cruz said. “We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel.”

Republicans may say they ‘stand for life’, but do they?  Republicans are the reason we’re in the Middle East right now and will continue to be fighting a war that cannot be won for decades to come.  As of 10:00 EDT on September 25, 2014 we have lost 6,836 men and women in the military, with 52,239 wounded.  What kind of ‘stand for life’ is that?  If we’re going to stand for life, shouldn’t we do everything humanely possible to ensure the men and women in our military do not lose theirs?

Republicans may say they stand for marriage but do they? 

In the year 2000 the U.S. had a population of 281,421,906, with 2,315,000 marriages.  [Excludes data for Louisiana.]

By 2011, the U.S. population had increased to 311,591,917, with 2,118,000 marriages.  [Excludes data for Louisiana].

In other words, while the population increased, the rate of marriage decreased tremendously from 8.2 percent per 1,000 in 2000 to 6.8 percent per 1,000 in 2011.  Statistically fewer people get married and divorced during recessions because they cannot afford to, so if the Republicans truly stood for marriage what they  might consider doing is removing themselves from their pulpits, going back into the halls of Congress and allocating funds to create jobs, or increasing the minimum wage so  more young people in this country can afford to be married.   While President Obama has done a magnificent job of creating jobs with very little assistance from Congress, it takes both parties negotiating and coordinating with each other for a country to forge ahead.

And last but not least  ‘We stand for Israel’. 

In response to the events of 9/11, when we were attacked by Al-Qaeda, the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

Why were we attacked by Al-Qaeda?

On December 27, 2001 Osama Bin Laden released a video to Al-Jazeera regarding various events including the 9/11 attack and BBC posted the following excerpt from the video:

“Terrorism against America deserves to be praised because it was a response to injustice, aimed at forcing America to stop its support for Israel, which kills our people.”

Even though Israel is one of the reasons why America is at war in the Middle East, America has always ‘stood for Israel’.  in fact, the 2012 budget amount submitted to Congress in February of 2011 by President Obama for a particular weapons system in Israel was doubled by the Republican controlled House on H.R. 1540. It was one of  only three areas where the amount allocated was more than the amount requested in the President’s budget. Would you care to guess what was decreased in order to provide Israel with the additional funding? 

The latest war between Israel and Gaza left approximately 2000 Palestinians dead, (459 children and 239 women) with an estimated 10,000 Palestinians injured; compared to 64 Israeli soldiers killed, as well as two Israel civilians and one foreign national.  In addition a few dozen Israelis were injured.  Standing up for Israel, should mean standing up for peace in the region, not seeing how much military aid we can supply to Israel.

The hostilities against the Palestinians was so widespread that an independent inquiry team was formed, by the United Nations Human Rights Council, to investigate violations of international human rights and freedoms due to Israeli military operations.

The crowd at the annual Voters Values Summit was described by the media as a gathering of  “evangelical conservatives” and I’ll ask the same question now that I asked approximately 30 months ago in the following article “Conservatism – What is it and What Does It Mean?”

If death and destruction somehow fall into the category of American values, it may be time to start rethinking the entire system of values in this country.

© 2014 Patricia L Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia L Johnson is a former special assignment writer/photographer and co-owner of the Articles and Answers News and Information sites.
Patricia Johnson
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