"Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship — no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society."
In 1990 the Supreme Court dramatically narrowed its protection of the free exercise of religion, holding in Employment Division v. Smith that neutral and generally applicable laws can legitimately interfere with religious practice. Instead of acknowledging religious freedom as a preeminent right, the court has given officious bureaucrats the upper hand in regulating "the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith." People of faith need to come together and re-enshrine the free exercise of religion as our nation's most important civil liberty. But first they need to understand that today's bureaucratic threats to liberty are every bit as potent as an occupying force.