Bill has advanced degrees in education and political science. He has been a political science teacher for over 28 years.
Is there a freedom "from" religion? Yes, there is....if you believe in magic.....
Magic is a wonderful thing, especially for a child. He can spend hours watching a skilled magician create things, like coins and rabbits, from nothing. Of course, he probably knows it’s a trick, but that doesn’t matter: children (yes, even adults) are fascinated that they can be fooled, that their senses can be misdirected so easily.
We can be wowed by a skilled magician. However, young and old, we don’t like being tricked when we believe we’re getting the real deal. Cold fusion, pyramid/ponzi schemes, the "cookie diet," and let’s not forget that e-mail from a guy named Mr. Mombolisi Olglabombolassi from Nigeria—these scams leave us feeling humiliated if we’ve fallen for them.
Those that act in the name of religion have especially been notorious in deceiving the faithful with every type of scam conceivable. Big name preachers get in trouble and some go to jail because of their frauds against the faithful.
But while Elmer Gantrys abound, there are a number of scams conducted by atheists. One such notorious whopper is a fraud concocted by atheists against the Constitution called the “Freedom from Religion.”
The Freedom from Religion and the Constitution
I’ve heard enough atheists to stuff an elevator say, “the First Amendment guarantees Americans the freedom from religion.” There’s even a “Freedom from Religion Foundation” that’s supposed to protect America’s right to a freedom from religion. Currently, these zombies are trying to shut down the National Day of Prayer.
Is there such as thing as a freedom from religion? I know that there's a general freedom for the exercise of religion—that’s in the First Amendment to the Constitution which reads that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” However, the Constitution says nothing about a freedom from religion. So, how do you get a freedom from religion out of the freedom of religion?
Well, you can’t legitimately; you’ll have to create it from nothing, and that’s what we call “magic”: the apparent production of something from nothing. Atheists at organizations like the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” do some serious hocus-pocus by talking about things like a “freedom of unbelief” as if such an animal exists. Don’t let anyone tell you that atheists don’t believe in creation ex nihilo because it’s not true. Atheists use intangible entities such as words, and create a constitutional right out of nothing. And what atheists have done with a nonentity like the “freedom from religion” is truly miraculous.
But while it may be miraculous, it’s not constitutional. Apparently, atheists think that if they torture the First Amendment long enough, it will give up and say whatever they want it to say. But, wringing a meaning from the First Amendment is still a forced confession and no amount of legal gymnastics is going to get a right to unbelief out of the Constitution.
Give the ACLU their due credit: they’ve figured out how the courts operate. They know that the courts may seem like the granite “Guardians of the Constitution,” but they’re not unmovable. If you push them long enough, they’ll budge. The ACLU figured out years ago that if they continually inundate both society and the courts with court cases of their pet causes, they can push the law in their direction. They have had the staying power over the years to slowly see the law move their way. Their efforts have resulted in greater freedom for some (like Nazis, terrorists, and child pornographers) and a loss of freedom for others (like Christian believers). As an example, they have pushed the Supreme Court to accept the idea that a passive display of the Ten Commandments is an "establishment of religion." The problem with this interpretation is that it has nothing to do with what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they were prohibiting laws that respected an establishment of religion.
“But, don’t you think that people have a right to choose to believe or not believe”?
First of all, the Constitution does not address “belief,” which is an idea held to be true; the Constitution addresses “religion” which the founders defined as “the duty that we owe to God and the manner of discharging that duty.” Government should target wrong acts, not beliefs. As such, government has no jurisdiction over belief, so there is no practice to protect. However, when it comes to speaking, writing controversial statements, assembling to affect political change, and practicing one’s faith, the framers felt that these activities, especially as they relate to government, should be protected. Such actions receive the status of a “right” that needs special protection since they are essential to a free society, but have also been suppressed by tyrannical governments.
Second, asking me whether I think that people have a right to "not believe" is like asking me if people have a right to “not speak” or a right to “not assemble”? Constitutional protections are for actions, not inaction. You can’t protect a word not spoken, a sentence not written, or a practice not exercised. The Constitution protects words spoken and sentences written and groups that assemble and religious exercises that are practiced. You can’t protect a “non exercise of religion” any more than you can protect “non speech.” Such rhetorical gymnastics trivialize those actual freedoms that are provided under the Constitution.
Another way of putting it, you can’t have a right to inactivity. If this were true then no one would be more in need of rights protection than the occupants at your local graveyard.
I suppose those people that think that we have a “freedom from religion” will be starting a “Freedom from Speech Coalition” next week, a place where those who are doing their unbelieving and their unassembling can refuse to gather and not discuss their right to not speak.
How do you practice unbelief, let alone defend it? What if I told you that “the First Amendment protects my right of non speech”? Could you have a right of non speaking about your non religion? I wish more of the trolls at Huff-a-Ton Post would exercise their right to non speech about their non religion. Perhaps we could get another organization going called the “Not Speaking about My Non Religion Foundation.” After all, those that don’t speak about their non belief have a right to be heard.
And why should we stop with these unactivities? Why not other negative rights to go along with these beauties? Why not a right to unkeep and unbear arms?
Unbelievers have no more protection under the Constitution as an “unbeliever” than I have for being left-handed (pardon me....."unrighthanded"). As a person, I have certain protections regardless of what hand I use. Similarly, an unbeliever has certain constitutional protections regardless of what he believes, but he has no constitutional protection for what he "non-believes."
Why does the atheist brigade participate in such inanity? For some, I suppose it could be mental instability, for others, parroting what they’ve heard. My suspicion is that they see Christian hegemony in government and society at-large and, like people that see conspiracies everywhere, they’re myopic about it. You can ask them what their reasons are, but don’t expect a satisfactory answer.
If you’ve been fooled by this silliness, don’t despair; most of us have. However, once you stop and listen to what they’re saying, you can see how silly it is. If you think about it, there’s something mental about defining yourself by what you’re not. I’m not a woman, a Sikh, or right-handed. I don’t go around claiming that there are constitutional rights for being an unwoman, a non-Sikh, or unright-handed. And there are no clubs for me to join to generate camaraderie with my fellow non-Sikhs. No polite luncheons and conferences for me to attend. And if anyone is prejudiced under the Constitution, it’s not the unbelievers, it’s us south-paws.
© 2011 William R Bowen Jr
Christiana on December 14, 2014:
Fell out of bed feeling down. This has breteginhd my day!
William R Bowen Jr (author) from New Bern, NC on July 31, 2011:
Yes, this point needs to be made more forcefully by those that understand it. The idea of having a right for what you are not or what you don't do is absurd. Thanks for the kind remarks...
Pintoman on July 30, 2011:
I was recently thinking about writing about this. I could never top this article. This was great. The absurdity of atheists made me laugh out-loud.
William R Bowen Jr (author) from New Bern, NC on May 05, 2011:
Unless you are prepared to call atheism a “religion,” it is not protected under the religion clause of the First Amendment. Sure, you have the general liberty to not practice a religion and you shouldn’t be persecuted if you do not practice a religion. If you state things against religion, you are protected under the First Amendment rights of speech and the press. But you can’t call a lack of practicing a religion a “right” because the prohibitions on Congress in the First Amendment protect positive actions. But how could Congress suppress a speech not given or a religious practice not actuated?
There are no rights to "not" do things. This is a loose usage of the concept of rights.
No, you don't have to worship, write, speak or assemble. But inaction has not normally been the preoccupation of tyrants. Our very Wiggish founding fathers, in their attempt to minimize the potential for tyranny, placed protections (like those in the First Amendment) in the Constitution because these actions (the practice of religion, public speech, print, and assembly) were notably those that a tyrant would try to suppress, yet such activities are also thought to be important for a republican government to flourish.
Thanks for reading and for your comments.
AntonOfTheNorth on May 04, 2011:
Of course I have the right to choose not to speak, to choose not to assemble.
There is no such animal as 'non-belief' The person who doesn't believe in god believes that there is no god. That isn't non belief. It is an opposing belief.
If the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” how do you interpret 'free exercise thereof'? If one believes there is no god, and acts on that belief by choosing not to attend any worship gathering is this not something that the First Amendment supports?
Is it your position that the only way to receive protection from the First Amendment is to declare a belief that can be defined as an 'acceptable' religion so that you can then be free to practice it? That would seem to fly in the face of the amendment. (I'm not trying to be disrespectful, this is an honest question).
I am a Canadian Citizen, so a different charter of rights to follow so realize I have no personal stake in this discussion, I'm just asking for clarification.
It strikes me as odd that an organization with a different view can can successfully lobby for a position that violates your freedom of expression.
thanks for the hub