The religious, such as Megan Laffey in her opinion piece “Freedom of Religion?” (Daily Nexus, March 31), are constantly invoking the First Amendment any time they become offended. They are severely misunderstanding the nature of amendments and the protection it allows them. The First Amendment says that the government will not establish a state religion or prevent free exercise of religion. There is a time and place for everything, and religion is expected to be practiced in private. Religion and sex are both deeply personal things; we don’t allow people to have sex on the sidewalks, even if they are standing out of the way of pedestrian traffic.
Laffey graciously informs us that “separation of church and state” is not a phrase found in the Constitution. This is true, but that is what is meant by the First Amendment. Thomas Jefferson said, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence … that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”
Laffey has the audacity to say that the U.S. was founded on “Christian principles,” yet the words “God,” “Jesus,” “Christian” and even “Creator” are nowhere to be found in the Constitution. In fact, many of the Founding Fathers were publicly deists, including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Paine. Was it not a unified church and state that caused people to found America, anyway? When taking a quick glance at the Christian religion’s track record on the subject, to say that Christian principles are behind freedom of religion and speech is nothing short of preposterous.
In light of this, I ask that the religious stop trivializing the First Amendment, using it as a shield to try to block any attempt at criticizing their personal beliefs. Criticism is not illegal. Laffey should be grateful for her right to practice her religion; she just shouldn’t do it in the middle of a public sidewalk!