From his remarks at the Iftar dinner on the 10th of August, 2012:
Of all the freedoms we cherish as Americans, of all the rights that we hold sacred, foremost among them is freedom of religion, the right to worship as we choose. It’s enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution — the law of the land, always and forever.
No, Mr. President, Freedom of Religion is not only “the right to worship as we choose.” Freedom of worship is an anemic shadow–it is the right to worship in the privacy of our homes and in our churches. Freedom of Religion, which is what is protected by the First Amendment, is much more robust. Freedom of Religion includes the Freedom of Worship, but much more as well. It is the right to live and practice our faith in the public square–at work, while shopping, at public events, at school–anywhere and everywhere.
Even the United Nations gets it right. Article 18 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
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.
This is not Freedom of Worship. Notice the right to “manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.” That is Freedom of Religion.
Am I being paranoid? Let us remember that the President’s public remarks, especially at a formal White House event, are carefully crafted and edited. These are not words that just slip in by accident–this is not casual small talk that you and I might make before dinner. They are reviewed through layers of staff and read from a telepromter. These are not accidental words.
The Soviet Union had Freedom of Worship. The United States of America has Freedom of Religion. That is, we will have Freedom of Religion as long as we are willing to defend it.