Right now a debate is raging about an Islamic mosque being built at Ground Zero in New York City, the site of the horrific tragedy of 9/11. The question on the minds of many is this: what do we do in a country that values freedom of religion when a religion that requires conversion or death wants to run free? It would seem a loophole has been found within the pages of our founding documents. I contend this is not the case. This “loophole” has been wrongly planted in our minds over the years as our country has drifted away from the objective of its founding and away from God. When we are again enlightened on the original intent of our First Amendment, the answer to the above conundrum presents itself with startling clarity.
Joseph Story. Meet a man named Joseph Story. Joseph Story was appointed to Supreme Court Justice by James Madison, the Father of our Constitution and also the fourth President of our country. Justice Story served from 1812 to 1845 as Supreme Court Justice. He was also a U.S. Congressman from 1808 to 1809 and a Harvard Law School Professor from 1821 to 1845. He comments on the First Amendment:
“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.” [J. Story, III, Commentaries on the Constitution [section] 1871 (1833)]
Let me restate what the Honorable Justice Story is saying in contemporary language.
“The real intent of the First Amendment was not to approve or support, much less to advance Islam, Judaism, or other unfaithfulness, Atheism included, by submissively and willfully incapacitating Christianity, but to prevent all competition among Christian denominations for national government sponsorship and to prevent our national government from choosing one of these denominations to establish a national church.”
Shocked? I was. Have you ever heard the like? What brutal political incorrectness! What intolerant, career-ending thinking! What… perfectly good sense and reasoning! James Madison appointed Justice Story because they were like-minded. We have an abundance of examples today to show us that presidents only appoint those who will help them achieve or maintain their goals. How much more for the Father of the Constitution seeking to preserve the country founded on the document he helped author? It’s entirely right to conclude that James Madison and Joseph Story knew what they were talking about. It’s absurd to think that people would argue with James Madison about the meaning of the document he wrote. It appears, however, that they would even if he were here today!
The original intent of our First Amendment. Our country was founded on Christian principles. That means our Founding Fathers had one religion on their minds when they wrote the Constitution – Christianity. God’s Law is the foundation of our judicial morality. As unpopular as this truth is today, the First Amendment does not guarantee the protection of the practice of any other religion but Christianity. Its purpose is to allow all Christian denominations to be practiced equally by us, the American people, without our government forcing one denomination on us all. Context is key. Our Founding Fathers were not interested in the same thing happening in the new country they were creating that had happened in England.
Our Constitution misinterpreted. We see two misinterpretations of our First Amendment in action today that allow us to deduce how its meaning has been altered over the years eventually arriving at the opposite of its stated intent (the very definition of Liberalism). The most common departure from its original intent is the claim that it protects the right to freely practice any and all religions in our nation. The consequence of this false claim is a second misinterpretation that uses the First Amendment to prevent the practice of the one religion it was designed to protect – Christianity. Don’t believe me about all this? Let’s suppose today’s interpretation is correct. Let’s suppose that the original intent of our First Amendment was to protect the freedom of the practice of any and all religions even to the detriment of Christianity. Well, the question still stands: what do we do in a country that values freedom of religion when a religion that requires conversion or death wants to run free? I’ll tell you what we do. It is the same answer however you interpret our First Amendment. We forbid the spreading of Islam in our country. If we don’t, we soon won’t be able to interpret the First Amendment in any way because there won’t be one. Freedom does have a rule. It’s the rule of responsibility. With freedom comes the responsibility to care for that freedom. Our country’s freedom wasn’t given but earned. We had to fight for it. We fight for it now. How then does it not need to be cared for? The ultimate expression of freedom of religion would be to not allow a religion into our country that forbids all others under penalty of conversion or death.
My challenge. My challenge to you is do you want the freedom that has enabled our country to last to this day? Or, will you pursue a Rolling Stones sort of freedom by declaring “I’m free to do what I want any old time…”, which is actually lived out as “if you let me do what I want then I might let you do what you want… as long as it doesn’t interfere with what I want to do.”
What you can do practically. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are wonderful things. We have the right to pursue happiness as long as it doesn’t prohibit our right to liberty. We have the right to liberty as long as it doesn’t prohibit our right to life. This is the way it was intended and this is the way it should be. So, what can you do practically to exercise these rights? If you live near New York City, you can let any of the contractors know you will boycott them if they build the mosque. You can set up a web site listing those persons involved in the approval and building of the mosque. What can you do practically in your own community? You can pray, then go down to your local Islamic center or mosque and preach Jesus. At the most, you’ll win them to Christ. At the very least, you’ll bring due attention to this serious matter through our judicial system after you’re arrested for preaching to them and “violating” their First Amendment rights. Maybe then a patriot lawyer will step forward to defend your First Amendment rights. You can also pray to God that, perhaps, He would continue to bless the people of this great country even though He’s clearly not with our government anymore.