President Obama proclaimed yesterday as “Religious Freedom Day.” Perhaps he thought that people would thereby forget about the HHS mandate, and other violations of religious freedom? There are two points worth making about this proclamation.
First, Obama continues to push the idea of “freedom of worship,” as opposed to freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment. The first line of yesterday’s proclamation reads:
Foremost among the rights Americans hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose.
“Freedom of worship” is an anemic shadow of freedom of religion. Freedom of worship means that we are free to worship in our churches and homes, but don’t even think about practicing your faith in the public square. And the Obama Justice department has argued in HHS mandate cases that Americans who enter secular business lose their freedom of religion.
Second, the proclamation quotes the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, a 1786 document written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia legislature. This gives yesterday’s proclamation a bit of gravitas, right? Let’s look closer.
From Obama’s proclamation yesterday:
Today, we celebrate one of our Nation’s first laws to protect that right — the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Written by Thomas Jefferson and guided through the Virginia legislature by James Madison, the Statute affirmed that “Almighty God hath created the mind free” and “all men shall be free to profess . . . their opinions in matters of religion.”
From the actual statute:
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do…
That’s a little more than “created the mind free,” isn’t it? Obama took one phrase of one sentence totally out of context.
There’s more. From the Virginia statue:
that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
See what Obama cut out? The phrase “by argument to maintain,” in other words, taking your case to the public square. And, the phrases “that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities,” in other words, you can maintain your faith in public, in business, and in government.
So, Obama and his staff are cherry-picking phrases from documents to support their attack on our religious freedom. What’s the surprise there?
A Religious Freedom Day that’s all about crushing our religious freedom.