Recently, there have been a number of columns admonishing those contending for religious freedom to extend tolerance and respect to all. While these are well meaning and altogether axiomatic, their implication may not be so obvious.
Certainly, all of us should be tolerant in our personal interaction with others. Neither within the general cultural conflict nor as it includes the specific clash over religious freedom should individuals be diminished or shamed, whatever side they may be representing. Even more, we are obligated to succor those who suffer and nurse the wounded.
Nevertheless, calling for tolerance should never mean that those vigorously contending for religious freedom — the freedom necessary to secure the moral well-being of society, vital to the sustainability of the Republic — should shrink and withdraw to demonstrate they are nice.
Nor should toleration translate into weakening the resolve or compromise the effort to contend for the free exercise of religion against the forces trying to rob religion and people of religious conscience from their full access to the public square.
In other words, we do not contend against individuals but against corrupt governments and powers. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul declared: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Unfortunately, the tainted tolerance of this generation is so acculturated to debauched powers in high places that President Obama has no compunction issuing an executive order extending special sexual rights to some while disrespecting religious rights of others.
Moreover, the judiciary now feels at leave to rule that advancing morality in the law is “animus” or hostility towards others and therefore unconstitutional. Oh how far this nation has fallen because of tainted toleration for the immoral, exacerbated by efforts to exorcise religious rights out of the public square.
In contrast to this generation’s growing disdain for religious rights protecting moral standards in society, the Founding Fathers presciently added the First Amendment to the Constitution, declaring religion’s inherent liberties. In so doing, they expected that religion and people of religious conscience would exercise these liberties to fulfill the important role of securing the future of the Republic by advancing morality in society.
George Washington explained in his 1796 farewell address that: “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”
John Adams proclaimed: “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” He further stated: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
This generation’s tainted tolerance is too often promulgated to persuade the public that religion’s rights should be limited to within the confines of faith sanctuaries, not to interfere with anyone else. The Founding Fathers’ vision was just the opposite. Like never before, they memorialized religious rights and freedoms in the Constitution as first and inherent. In so doing, they set the course for religion to diversify and multiply; thereby preserving the Republic, that according to them, depends on a religiously free and moral people to sustain it.
Obviously, more passionate people are needed to contend for religious liberties or those liberties will be lost. And as John Adams warned: “Liberty once lost, is lost forever!” If religious liberties are lost, then this will be the generation that lost the Republic. At all cost, we must prevent that, even if it means others may be offended by it. To do less, will result in the de facto abdication of the Republic depended upon the moral advocacy of a religiously free people.
Stuart C. Reid is a member of the Utah State Senate.