Letters to the editor — Thursday (2-6-2014)
A definition of intent on the First Amendment can be found in a document Thomas Jefferson wrote and considered his “most significant,” the Religious Freedom Act of Virginia.
In a nutshell, it protects religions from the persecutions of another, separating state and religion so that none could use that power against another. Jefferson even listed by name the religions whose freedoms are to be protected, saying “whether they be Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindi or infidel.” Seemingly, this is to halt any from declaring to another “You’re not included” or “This country’s for us alone, so get out.”
Our country is founded on values represented in the rights, liberties and freedoms given in the name of the people by our Constitution. Having a state independent from religion was the first thing they did to safeguard them for all, empowering the people, not a particular religion.
From its founding, this nation was multicultural and religiously diverse, a melting pot that inspired our nation’s motto: Out of many, one.
Now there seems to be a sweeping religious movement, claiming it’s all by and for them, claiming rights above others, demanding the authority and power they covet, a mob that storms seats of government.
Are these the values of the Founding Fathers — or a neutrality that fosters a free and just society? No, this is what the Founders feared. And this is why the values we cherish are entrusted to the people to hold and protect, not to a religious authority from whom they are being protected. So that, as Jefferson stated, even the infidel has the fullness of his freedom through a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Power to the people.
— Leland DeMent