When the Founding Father drafted the First
Amendment, Freedom of Religion was actually more like Freedom FROM Religion in
that it was a distinct reaction to hold the Church of England (Anglican) held
on the colonies:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." So the Christian Right hates the first part, but takes advantage of the second part: in it, "belief" is only assumed, while "exercise" is more explicit. Any "Belief" can be castigated, while the act of bludgeoning anyone over the head with a Bible cannot. Had the Amendment said that every man had the freedom to believe what he wanted, but not the freedom to proselytize to the the detriment of another's beliefs, then it might have served Americans much better throughout it's freedom-loving history.
For it is with the exercise of beliefs that the Christian Right has gained the upper hand politically and has gained power over all other sects, denominations and religions: its organizations (like the Family Research Council) and media (Christian Broadcasting Network and Glenn Beck) and promotions (OpEd letters and billboards) trumpet "values" that instill fear of any other belief or creed.
In other words, the second part of the Amendment has unleashed a monster against the first part and against religious tolerance. And only by strengthening the first part, can we ever hope to achieve true freedom of religion.
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