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September 04, 2003

Religious Freedom

What's the religious aspect of the First Amendment all about?

* The right to display religious symbols in public spaces.

Yep- for all that conservatives bellyache about judges or schools not being able to themselves promote one particular set of religious beliefs, the flip side the Constitution's hostility to state control of religious expression is that it protects individuals' rights to use public space for religious purposes in all manner of ways.

Children can pray quietly as they wish in school and even meet extracurricularly in school facilities. Preachers may harangue passerbys in public parks. Soldiers and prisoners have the right to religious materials of their faith.

And librarians have the right to wear a cross if they wish to personally.

No one can dictate worship to other people and judges can't erect monuments to their personal faith in court rotundas, but it's far more important that government can't shut down personal beliefs than that individuals temporarily holding political power be able to shove their faith down the throats of the population.

Protecting the former and stopping the latter was what the First Amendment was all about.

Posted by Nathan at September 4, 2003 10:17 AM