In our opinion: Three chances for U.S. to reaffirm commitment to religious liberty


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  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Oct. 24, 2013 9:46 p.m.

    @Mike Richards 7:18 a.m. Oct. 21, 2013:

    "Freedom from religion is a concept that does not come from God or from godliness. To be free from religion means that you reject God, your creator, and all that He has done for you."

    Get this and get this right. This is only YOUR OPINION. And many people and gods would argue that it is entirely incorrect.

  • rjwilson Riverton, UT
    Oct. 22, 2013 9:42 p.m.

    Can someone please enlighten me as to how religion is being threatened by the government? Churches are threatened by their own congregation leaving though.

    Prayer does not belong in a city council meeting. It belongs in the family and in the church.

    Religious faith does not belong in the decision for one's health care. This is why the government has stepped in and said that they must cover contraceptives. A company such as Hobby Lobby is being forced to offer coverage for contraception but they are not being forced to encourage the use of and they are not being restricted from encouraging the avoidance of contraception. It is not right for a company to restrict health care based off religious belief though.

    Spend 20 minutes doing a little reading at reputable sources about the American Family Association and you will find a lot of the reason why they are considered a hate group. The AFA is the reason people are beginning to leave organized religion.

    Offer choice and truth, lead by example and focus on the what is truly good.

    This is too hard these days so the focus is skewed on calling an anti-whatever movement a pro-whatever.

  • Sunset Orem, UT
    Oct. 22, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    @ Mike Richards

    "There is no 'establishment clause' in the Constitution."

    Absurd, especially since you immediately contradict yourself when you turn around and discuss the very thing you claim does not exist. The Establishment Clause is a very well-defined subject in law.

    "'An establishment' means just what it says, an already existing religion."

    Your interpretation is too narrow and is not supported in any jurisprudence. "An establishment" is a noun referring to some existing, established thing, such as a church. But "an establishment" is a noun also referring to an act or instance of creating, or establishing, something new. The choice of the indefinite article "an" signals that Congress is forbidden to respect ANY (not just one) establishment of religion (whether that is a fixed church in existence or an act of creating a new church). This is not some progressive, "communist," reading (misused political terminology aside); this is a well-settled, common sense, plain reading of the text.

    Your other comments about God are, respectfully, irrelevant to the discussion at hand. We're talking about religious freedom and the law, not your personal theology. How to interpret the law has nothing to do with your beliefs about God.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Oct. 21, 2013 4:15 p.m.

    And which side of the political spectrum didn't want Muslims to have cultural center in New York,
    keeps claiming America is a "Christian" nation,
    and the GOP vaguely stand for "God's Own Party"?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Oct. 21, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    Mike Richards; I still don't agree with, or that matter completely follow your "article" argument. Using the article "the" simply means that they are referencing a specific and known noun "free exercise".

    First of all I doubt they believed that free exercise of religion allowed someone to disregard laws. Remember things like burning witch's wasn't that far in their past. So the use of the definite the means they undoubtedly accepted some restrictions on "free exercise" or what qualified as religion (I would bet on the later).

    Secondly, laws such as health care laws don't force you personally to use contraceptives. You can believe and act as you choose personally regarding contraceptives. Your actions only become an issue as your actions deny others their free choice.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 21, 2013 7:18 a.m.


    You have not done your homework, choosing, probably, to cherry-pick those things that Madison and Jefferson wrote that agree with your viewpoint. What the important point is, is that the Constitution is the Law, not the cherry-picked writings of any who brought forth the Constitution. The words laid on paper govern us, not the arguments made before or after that Constitution was written.

    The founders knew how to use English. They were not illiterate. They knew the difference between an idefinite article and a definite article.

    You can easily see for yourself if you Google "define: indefinite article".

    Religious freedom is a gift from God. Freedom from religion is a concept that does not come from God or from godliness. To be free from religion means that you reject God, your creator, and all that He has done for you. That is your right, but that "right" comes with the most dire of consequences - to be separated from Light and the Bearer of that light for all eternity.

  • Contrariusier mid-state, TN
    Oct. 21, 2013 6:58 a.m.

    @Gildas --

    in re: the stenographer

    Do you think an evaluation is worse than being fired?

    Also, this brings up a recent case in Russia. Yup, the country that's currently touting its Christian faith while it represses the freedom of speech of homosexuals.

    Well, they've got a protester there (not gay) in prison for more than a year already -- just for protesting. And they've just sentenced him to forced psychiatric treatment. They claim he's "unable to realize the "public danger of his actions" due to a "chronic mental disorder.""

    Where's his freedom of speech?

    And btw, that stenographer didn't just make a "conspicuous religious profession". Among her rants were the following:

    "He will not be mocked. He will not be mocked. Don't touch me. He will not be mocked," "The greatest deception here is not 'one nation under God.' It never was. Had it been, it would not have been." "The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God." "You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ."

    -- all while she advanced on and took over the Speaker's podium.

    Does that sound particularly sane to you?

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:48 p.m.

    Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

    We don't have an established church and Congress will never, I suspect,ever try to promote an established church, so I skipped that part. Some nations have an established church: the Catholic Church in Spain, the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, the Anglican Church in England, both the Catholic and Luteran churches in Germany, but no state church in the USA.

    I think there is an atheistical hostility to Christianity arising in government and a desire to erode religious liberty beginning with the denial of free speech.

    An example of this is forcing a stenographer in the House of Representatives to have a psychiatric evaluation after making a conspicuous religous profession publicly. I would have understood if she had been fired because she was creating a disturbance outside of her professional privileges but to treat her as insane is just the kind of reaction you saw in the atheist USSR back in the day.

    I think that the view of the universe sans intelligent design is mad but I am against humiliating atheists with psychiatric evaluations and denial of free speech.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    @the truth – “Your interpretation is based on a modern "progressive" (read communist), not the original interpretation or intent.”

    One of the benefits of media like Fox and AM Talk Radio is they are unintentionally sharpening the public’s ability to recognize obfuscations, sophomoric tactics, bad arguments and logical fallacies.

    Your comments employ at least two of these and perhaps all four – first, loosen up the audience with a cheap ad hominem and then go on to make an argument that would make then 1st Amendment views of none other than Antonin Scalia “communist.”

    For anyone interested, please read Scalia’s opinion in Employment Division v Smith – and in that case the defendant’s action were not even impacting anyone else - or the full texts of the snippets Lightbearer has posted; the words of the Founders – esp. Madison (hint: he thought chaplains in the military violated the establishment clause).

    @Furry1993 – “It's best to just ignore them…”

    I try except when ignoring can too easily look like defeat.

    But thanks for your comments… and everyone else who is helping to poke some much needed holes in these faux persecutions.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:43 p.m.

    If Foxnews says it then it must be true!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 6:25 p.m.

    @TylerD 9:58 a.m. Oct. 20, 2013
    @Lightbearer 1:19 p.m. Oct. 20, 2013

    Your interpretation is based on a modern "progressive" (read communist), not the original interpretation or intent.

    And more importantly completely ignores the very first words, "Congress shall make no law respecting..."

    NOT "establishing" a religion!

    But "respecting" AN establishment.

    They dis not want an officially recognized religious establishment being favored over others.

    And that limit was aimed at congress NOT the people nor their business.

    The modern progressive interpretation is wrong. And is only being used to be hostile toward religion and the religious, something the founders did not practice, and to silence and render religious people as second class citizens especially in regards to the public square.

    Quite the opposite of the original intent.

    Religions people and religion are equally entitled to the public square, as the non-religious and non-religions.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Oct. 20, 2013 5:05 p.m.

    Counter Intelligence, the fight is what does "free exercise thereof" mean. I don't think it means you can break existing law by forcing your belief on others. It does mean that you are allowed to believe pretty much anything you want and act on those beliefs as long as you don't violate other laws. For instance, regardless of your beliefs you would not be allowed to practice human sacrifice, and regardless of the law you are not required to abort a badly deformed fetus.

    Therefore it doesn't matter whether you believe contraception amounts to abortion, or the killing of a baby. The law says other wise and you are not allowed to deny someone that specific right.

    If you don't agree with the law don't participate in voluntary activities that obligate you to the law. It's as simple as that.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 4:29 p.m.

    Religious liberty has NEVER been threatened in the US.
    The Dnews is upset that they can't claim religion as a reason to prevent gays from enjoying the same civil rights that straight people can enjoy.
    That isn't a loss of liberty, that is a victory for civil rights.
    It gets embarrassing to read between the lines and see that you just want to prevent the civil rights of other, disguised as "religious freedom".

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 20, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    Bryan Jonathan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), said this about Mormons...

    "One evidence that [the Founding Fathers] were not dealing ... they weren't even intending to deal with non-Christian religions is what they did with Mormonism in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Mormonism - they call themselves by the name of Christ, but it is not an orthodox Christian network of churches, it just is not."

    He went on to say....

    "The Mormon Church, by the way, has never denounced the practice of polygamy. It has not. What it did in 1890, if you go back to the Doctrines and Covenants, what the Mormon Church did is they advised - it wasn't even an order - they advised the members of the LDS Church to obey the law which said one man, one woman, period. So my guess is that if those that are trying to legalize polygamy "

    So sure DN.... go ahead and use this organization as your poster child for religious freedom. And this was all said in the context of why they were upset that Mitt Romney was to speak right before him at the Values Voter Summit.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Oct. 20, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    @Counter Intelligence: Your straw man argument is weak. No one is preventing anyone from exercising their religious freedoms from under their own vine and fig tree. It's when people try to exercise their freedoms under the vines and trees of others that do not share their views where religious persecution rears it's ugly head. In America it's typically so called Christians who persecute others.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    @TylerD 9:58 a.m. Oct. 20, 2013
    @Lightbearer 1:19 p.m. Oct. 20, 2013

    Unfortunately some people believe that all they have to do is peruse the constitution to be able to understand what it says and means, and how it works without having studied it and without really understanding it. Also unfortunately, several with that mindset post on this site. I have asked them on occasion what law school they attended and/or where they studied the Constitution with a competent instructor, but had my questions "blown off" without an answer. They just ending up posting things that are pure fiction, while seeming to be authorities on a subject about which they have no knowledge. It's best to just ignore them, let them have their own circle party, and post the real, truthful answer without giving them the satisfaction of a reply. Your comments are correct, and correctly interpret the Constitution. Good job.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 20, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    5th try

    The So. Poverty Law Center classified the American Family Assoc. as a "hate" group when the AFA named Bryan Fischer as its Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy.

    According to the SPLC, Bryan Fischer has made incendiary statements against gay people. Other sources report Bryan Fischer has made incendiary statements about Native Americans, Pres. Obama and others.

    In 2012, Mormonvoices, associated with FAIR(LDS), and reported in Deseret News, an article titled
    "The Top Ten Anti-Mormon Statements of 2011," included a statement by Bryan Fischer about the LDS Church.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    Oct. 20, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    So... pretty sure all three "examples" of religious liberty lost cited by the DesNews have nothing to do with religious liberty or practicing one's faith freely but everything to do with people of religion utilizing the channels of formal government to further their religious beliefs: 1) preaching in the military, 2) a US ambassador, and 3) town council meetings.

    DewNews, coming from someone who is LDS, please stop the victimization. Religion has no place in government and government has no place in religion. Never in my life have I ever been precluded, at any level, from practicing my faith in the United States; however, you do members of our faith a great disservice when you trump up false claims of persecution. It undermines your legitimacy should any actual issue arise.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    Re: "'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...' 'An establishment' means just what it says, an already existing religion. The words are not 'the establishment' which would mean what those who have twisted the words of the 1st Admendment wish that it said."

    So which "existing religion" did James Madison have in mind when, expressing his objections to the appointment of chaplains to Congress, he wrote:

    "The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion."

    Thomas Jefferson thought it was inappropriate for the President even to RECOMMEND a day of fasting and prayer, citing the Constitution's provision "that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion."

    Madison also wrote:

    "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

    So according to Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," who certainly knew what the intent of the Bill of Rights was, the Constitution "strongly guards" the separation between religion and government.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    I think that everyone's commitment to religious freedom is manifest in their respect and tolerance of other religious views. Wiccans, pagan, Mormon, Baptist, Catholic, Hindu, Moslem, atheist, Buddhist. One of these is acceptable to most people who read this. What about the rest?

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    re: Mike Richards

    "What we really need, world wide, is freedom from government interference in religion."

    Because those darn secular moderates in the near East are ruining it for the rest of us. ROFL.

    re: Tyler D

    Agreed. The whole crux of the 1st Amendment as was explained to me yrs ago. Your freedom ends when it endangers others i.e. you have the right to scream fire; you just can't do it in a crowded theater.

    Jefferson's wall is meant to prevent both sides from "influencing" the other not just to stop Gov't encroachment.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    There is no infringement to pray in private, with family and sectarian settings. Jesus condemned the man who prayed loudly in public, praise the man who prayed privately and said those who pray to be seen by others will get no reward. Prayer at public and political gatherings is imposing a particular religious belief on a CAPTIVE and DIVERSE audience, and it could be said it is infringing on their religious freedom.

  • LiberalEastCoastMember Parkesburg, PA
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:29 a.m.

    You can do better Deseret News! Supporting a good point with questionable news sources, in this case Fox News, delegitimizes an otherwise good point. Too bad.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    Religion needs to be de entrenched from the military because the military is an environment where individual freedom really doesn't exist. There is a heirarchy which must be followed that religion too easily takes advantage of.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Somewhere there may be a document with words quoted from George Washington, but the authors do not mention where that is and how it was validated. Not that I think the authors might lie to us, it’s only that the wide variations in the story that religions give us would seems to indicate that some may be lying.

    The seemingly insatiable need for churches and religions to advertise their product above all other concerns does not bode well for the truth of their message. In business, if you have a really good product, word-of-mouth alone will bring people to your door. If your product is less than perfect, you advertise.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 10:02 a.m.


    Your assumption that Washington would approve of forcing religious people to violate their faith in order to get a business license is precisely why religious liberty is threatened.
    The law is:"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". Any other law in violation of that law is an unconstitutional law. The HHS mandate prevents the free exercise of religion, it doesn't matter whether the intolerant left likes it or not.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 20, 2013 9:58 a.m.

    @Mike Richards – “"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" "An establishment" means just what it says, an already existing religion.”

    You’re wrong Mike… if it meant what you think it would have read “establishment of ‘a’ religion.”

    Like so many writings of our founders writings, the message “freedom FROM religion” underwrites all the sentiments involved in allowing everyone to be as religious (or not) as they wish to be.

    But one person’s religion stops where another’s liberty (not to mention a constitutionally passed law) begins as constitutional scholars & Supreme Court Justices (e.g., Scalia in Employment Division v Smith) have affirmed for over 200 years.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Oct. 20, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    Now seriously, do you think that George Washington would understand the killing of millions of babies in America? He would have to be educated that some of these were unavoidable, and that others were choices made in desperation. However, he would be shocked to hear that many were choices of convenience. I'm sure it would be a struggle for him to comprehend how any parent would choose that route for convenience.

    Of course, he would be surprised to find that there is a law that would force employers to support those choices, whether unavoidable, desperation, or convenience. He would be too steeped in the concept of freedom.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Coupla molehills; don't see much mountain.

  • redshirt007 tranquility base, 00
    Oct. 20, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    Religions have changes on many issues already. Inter-racial marriage was seen as a problem in the 60's that churches wanted no part of.

    So will churches accept gay marriage 50 years from now? Some churches already do. I imagine many more will in 50 years.

    Marriage is about the spirit not the body.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    It is really quite humorous to see those who keep thinking that President Obama somehow doesn't rule exactly how he intended, as if some sort of 'clarification' is surely coming. How naive can people be!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 20, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    There is no "establishment clause" in the Constitution. The "establishment clause" is made of whole cloth by those who want to impose sanctions agaisnt our freedom to worship. The first part of the 1st Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

    "An establishment" means just what it says, an already existing religion. The words are not "the establishment" which would mean what those who have twisted the words of the 1st Admendment wish that it said.

    We are free to worship the God of our choice and to follow or not follow the doctrine that He has revealed to us. The government cannot change the tenets of our religions nor can it impose on us sanctions that would keep us from being obedient to our God.

    What we really need, world wide, is freedom from government interference in religion.

    God gave us agency. Government tries to remove that agency. Those who remove a gift given by God will answer for their actions and bear the total responsibility for their actions. They would enslave us to their godless ideas.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Oct. 20, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    Seriously? a single soldier reported by Fox News (no I don't believe a word they say), a religious ambassador resigns, and a Supreme Court case and once again we have a "headline" about the poor religiously down trodden.

    My bet if, George Washington knew that an employer was breaking the law by denying an employee benefits because of their personal religious beliefs, he would side with the Obama administration.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Oct. 20, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    From the article:

    "Will Inboden notes that the nation cannot adequately counter radical jihadi groups without a strategy 'of which religious freedom must be an integral part.'"

    Agreed. We must show that the US is not the enemy of Islam or of any religion. That we welcome and celebrate all religions (or even the lack thereof). That we are a true pluralistic society where each can do as Washington so eloquently wrote.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Oct. 20, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    Those were wise words from George Washington that the article quoted. Now if those that wish to push their religious agenda on others would just heed them and "sit in safety under their own vine and fig tree" as they so freely can do, then this country can move forward from the straw man argument of religious persecution and on the real work of removing the bigotry that exists towards minorities and same sex couples.

  • KarenSp Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 7:04 a.m.

    "No doubt some of the recent claims have been overstated. But some are true, lending to an atmosphere of suspicion and fear."

    I can't believe I just read that. This is an admission that the Deseret News is trumping up the claims, and that some of them are false. I guess that's OK as long as it promotes the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that seems to be the goal of the Deseret News' incessant campaign promoting "religious liberty."

    You might want to read a little about the American Family Association and decide for yourself if it's a "mainstream" organization.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 20, 2013 1:42 a.m.

    Well written. Need I say more?