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Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Worship?

Church buildingIt has been a subtle and (for many) an unnoticeable shift  away from the Constitutionally protected “Freedom of Religion” to what the liberal left is calling “Freedom of Worship.” Seeking to silence the Church in the public square and reduce their religious “practice” to what happens during a worship service, some in the government (in the U.S. and around the world) are trying to solidify this shift as Constitutional-when it’s not.  We need to be aware of what is happening and how it can impact the practice of our faith outside of our “place of worship.”  Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, wrote a good article about this issue on the First Things blog that you should take time to read.  The first couple of paragraphs are re-posted here, but follow the link at the end to continue reading.

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Freedom of Worship’s Assault on Freedom of Religion

by Wesley J. Smith

Until very recently, the West saw religious liberty as a weight-bearing pillar of human freedom. Thus, the very first clause of the First Amendment (1789) states,

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

More broadly, Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides:

 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

That’s unequivocal. Freedom of religion means the right to live according to one’s own faith, that is, to “manifest” our religion or belief in practice , both “in public or private,” without interference from the state.

These days, that and $2 will buy you a small cup of Starbucks’ coffee. Strident secularism is on the march and freedom of religion is the target, with secularist warriors attempting to drive religious practice behind closed doors by redefining religious liberty down to a hyper-restricted, “freedom of worship.”

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Continue reading this article (705 more words) at the First Things website . . . 

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