Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Freedom for me, but not for thee" of the day

From the American Family Association's spokesman, Bryan Fischer:
Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.
Isn't it interesting how people claim that the Constitution is not a "suicide pact" when they want to refuse to acknowledge something clearly guaranteed in it, but dollars to donuts are the same ones who will be thrusting said document into the air and yelling at the top of their lungs should someone come along who says the same thing about something they actually value?  

The First Amendment, last I checked, singles out no particular religion when it acknowledges both our freedom to religious expression and restrains the government from foisting its own expressions upon us.  Nor is it accurate to say that the founders had no intention of protecting freedom of religious expression for Muslims:

In his seminal Letter on Toleration (1689), John Locke insisted that Muslims and all others who believed in God be tolerated in England. Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Jefferson followed Locke, his idol, in demanding recognition of the religious rights of the "Mahamdan," the Jew and the "pagan." Supporting Jefferson was his old ally, Richard Henry Lee, who had made a motion in Congress on June 7, 1776, that the American colonies declare independence. "True freedom," Lee asserted, "embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo (Hindu) as well as the Christian religion." 
In his autobiography, Jefferson recounted with satisfaction that in the struggle to pass his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), the Virginia legislature "rejected by a great majority" an effort to limit the bill's scope "in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan."

And the atheist? Well, that's another story. But it's absurd on its face to claim that the right to religious expression exists for Christians alone. If it did, then the word "freedom" would hardly describe it.

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