Some Americans need to reread the Constitution
Have you noticed in recent years that some Americans have ignored the First Amendment, except when it helps their cause? The amendment reads as follows (from Wikipedia): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Two excellent examples of it being ignored have happened in AR in the last 4 months. First, in December, our Secretary of State denied an atheistic group the right to put up a display on the grounds of the Capitol because he “didn’t like the display.” However, a Christian group was allowed to put up a Nativity scene. It went to court and a judge ruled that the State must allow any group meeting the criteria for a display to put one up, since the Capitol is public land.
The second example happened earlier this month here in Northwest Arkansas. A group called the Northwest Arkansas Coalition of Reason, affiliated with the larger United Coalition of Reason, put up a billboard and bought advertising space on public buses with the following message: Can you be good without God? Millions are. The director of the bus system actually went to the city attorney and asked if they could deny the group the right to purchase the space on the side of their buses. The attorney stated that if they did, the matter would likely go to court and the city would lose. The director should have known the answer, making the trip to see the attorney unnecessary. A group of churches in Springdale, Fayetteville and the surrounding area have now joined forces to buy advertising space to state their counterpoint to the billboard. I say great, this is exactly what they should do instead of trying to suppress someone else's beliefs.
One more excellent example is the recent case in Mississippi where the prom was cancelled because a high school student requested permission to bring her same-sex date. The ACLU got involved and a judge ruled that the school had violated this student’s civil rights by denying her permission to bring the date of her choice. A coworker of mine is so ignorant that she said “Well, that’s not a civil rights issue.” My job dropped open and I sat in stunned silence.
Everyone needs to realize that the First Amendment and the Constitution apply to everyone, not just certain groups. Nowhere will you find the words “does not apply to the following groups.” Interestingly, although opponents of same-sex marriage often cite the Constitution, nowhere in the document is marriage specifically addressed. The bottom line is this: America needs to do a better job of teaching the Constitution in order to avoid baseless arguments like the ones I’ve mentioned.
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