Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Freedom of worship, in a nutshell

In my previous incarnation (which lasting through 9/11) as a democrat, I never thought the day would come when I would quote approvingly from an article that Oliver North wrote. I admired his steadfastness and his presence, but I thought he was absolutely and completely wrong -- a Reaganite nut case. I've since come around, but I will say in my own defense that I would always have agreed with the sentiments North expresses in this article about the true nature of the Constitutional right to freedom of worship:

The antipathy Newdow [who sued to block mention of God in the inauguration] and other non-believers feel toward the president began during the 2000 election campaign, when then-Gov. Bush was asked during a debate what 'philosopher' had most influenced him. Bush's response: 'Jesus Christ. He changed my heart. He changed my life.' Four years in the Oval Office haven't changed that perspective. A few days ago, President Bush, reflecting on the challenges he's had to face as chief executive, said he doesn't 'see how you can be president, at least from my perspective, how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord.' It was enough to make atheists like Newdow race for the microphones and cameras. But rather than howling about the president's admission, they should have thanked whatever non-God-like entity they consider paramount that a man of faith like George W. Bush is our president. It is precisely his 'at least from my perspective' stipulation that separates George Bush from those who would impose their religion -- or lack of it -- on others by decree or the sword. In a recent interview with the editors of the Washington Times, Bush made it clear that 'the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit. That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban.' Far from establishing a state religion, as Newdow alleges, President Bush has clearly expressed precisely the opposite. This conviction of personal faith, balanced by a respect of each individual's right to worship -- or not -- according to his or her conscience, isn't unique to George W. Bush. In fact, it extends back 215 years to the foundation of our republic. This week, Bush visited the National Archives to view our first president's inaugural address and the Bible George Washington kissed after taking the oath of office in 1789. Later that year, Washington -- an Episcopalian -- wrote to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, 'Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.'
The liberals don't seem to understand that there is a difference between freedom of religion, which allows people to arrive at their actions through whatever freely voiced avenue they prefer (religious or non-religious), or the absence of religion, which leads to moral chaos. People must be judged by their actions, and if a profound belief in God motivates intelligent, benign, brave, decent actions, more power to them. To silence them, or ridicule them, because their faith animates them is the antithesis of what the Founding Fathers envisioned, and replaces freedom of faith with a Godless version of the Inquisition.