Freedom, Politics and Personal Choice

The month of July is traditionally the month we remember and celebrate this great country we live in. This is natural given the 4th is the day we celebrate the birth of this great nation.  We haven’t always made it to fireworks, but enjoyed going to the Freedom Celebration in Idaho Falls this year. We watched from very close, so were able to get a few pictures (see above).

This is a good time to think about some of the principles that when combined have made this country great. The key principles contained in our Bill of Rights framed those things most precious to our Founding Fathers, and which continue to be fundamental to the greatness of this country.

First is the freedom of religion. Many of those first brought to the shores of this country came because they were not free to worship as they saw fit in their home land. Whether it was the government, other religions, or “inconsiderate neighbors” they were prohibited from worshipping according to the dictates of their own conscious. They came to this country to be free of the oppression caused by those who would force them to believe in a predetermined way.

Although this principle (freedom of religion) is fundamental to our nation’s strength and protected by court and law, we, as a people are sometimes less adherent to this principle than we ought to be. Consider the oppression of certain religious groups that have occurred in our history, in particular, the Mormons and the Jews. Even today, a common question is asked whether or not we can accept a particular candidate or statement because he or she belongs to a particular faith. Excuse me! The question is not whether or not they profess a particular religious point of view, but in our political arena, whether or not they can be trusted to uphold the principles upon which this country was founded. In essence, we should be looking at what they do and who they are, not which kind of church building they go to on Sunday. We can say that by their fruits ye shall know them! We should be watching and be observant of what and how these candidates go about their business. What have they accomplished, but even more, how did they accomplish it – apparent “good results” obtained by lying and cheating is not in fact “good results!”

Second, the freedom of speech. This is so critical in a free society and so at risk in today’s America. The right to give open expression to ones thoughts and views is absolutely critical to insure that freedom continues. Throughout mankind’s history, one of the first things suppressed when governments rob freedom is the right to free and open expression of opinion. Efforts to suppress the printed word (including electronic), open verbal expression (often reported in the press), and even suppression of private conversation must absolutely be resisted.  Unfortunately, we have seen that all of these rights to expression are under critical attack in recent years. I’m sure we could each relate an example or two. How is it even possible that someone could express the view that a particular newspaper or news program should be shut down because of their expressed views or opinions? I (or you) might not agree with the point of view or argument, but I will defend to the death your right to express your view. Likewise, I expect you will fully defend my right to express my view. In the end, we may agree to disagree, but we can do that without creating conflict, but by creating useful dialogue.

When we consider our founding fathers, we realize that they did not all have the same opinion on various principles. However, what they did was to reach acceptable compromises that preserved the fundamental rights and freedoms that are of paramount importance. This does not mean they necessarily agreed with the chosen path, but they realized the necessary path for forward progress. Points of disagreement should continue in lively debate, but not in hated speech.

This seems to be lost on this generation, where the expression of a point view (even when shared by the majority) gets comments to the effect that only a person full of hate and prejudice could hold that view. Taken out of context, this seems impossible, but let’s consider the question of the definition of marriage as only being between a man and a woman. In multiple elections in multiple states, and through innumerable poles, Americans are very strongly in favor of this definition of marriage. However, there are increasing numbers of voices that claim that my declaration and belief in God’s law of marriage as between a man and a woman is full of hate and prejudice. This isn’t about hate, it’s about what I believe to be right and wrong. As, Jesus loved the sinner, I hold no malice toward those that don’t believe as I do. But, and this is critical to me, do not hold me bound to believe as you do – I claim the right to my beliefs and opinions, and these cross both the freedom of religion and of speech. However, just because I believe in a certain way, does not mean I hate those that believe differently – because I do not. The hatred seems to come towards me from those that do not agree with my beliefs.

Now, to the question of Chick-Fil-A. A reporter, asks a good christian man, who is doing his best to live a good life, who runs his business according to his core beliefs – he asks him about gay marriage. What answer did he expect? He got the answer he expected.  Why did he ask it. He was trying to make a name for himself by calling out some hidden hatred.  NEWS FLASH!  There’s no hatred there that you didn’t bring. The Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy loves all of God’s children and treats all equals whether customers or employees. You can tell that by the way he lives what he believes, by the way he runs his business – by your fruits ye shall know them!

Likewise, we can see the fruits of the reporter – someone who hates anyone that does not agree with his views. Even politicians got into the mix proposing to interfere with business to keep this good man’s business out of their cities. They did get reminded that their private hatred will not be supported in this free country, and actions such as they proposed were unconstitutional.

In the end, these issues where businesses are concerned are generally handled by the market. If you choose, you can always limit your support of business to those that agree with your point of view.

That is your choice – however, a more fundamental choice is to support those that are willing to stand for what they believe in. For this reason, if you have a Chick-Fil-A in your community, I respectively ask that if you love freedom in this country – that you go and have lunch or dinner there on August 1st.  Show that we will not be intimidated by the minority with the microphone.

Thanks for reading.

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