Op-Ed: Freedom of Belief – Our Cherished American Liberty

Human beings, as children, believe in Santa Clause, flying reindeer, elves, Easter bunnies, Halloween witches and goblins, trolls, fairies, leprechauns, bogeymen, gods, etc from family and community indoctrination although no earthly evidence exists for them. Children want and need to enjoy those childhood beliefs.

Adults cease believing in childhood myths but many continue to believe in gods because they want to believe in them and some need to believe in them. Consequently, religious faith freely flourishes. Religion prospers and profits by perpetuating this propensity. Other adults evolve to secular beliefs in humanity, nature, science, etc.

World history confirms early civilizations created their own gods, religions and scriptures their cultures continue. Naturalist religions deified elements, animals and humans. Egalitarian religions deified children, women and men. Matriarchal religions deified women and motherhood. Patriarchal religions deified only males.

There are 10,000 distinct world religions and 2,000 different American Christianities according to World Christian Encyclopedia. No belief uniformity exists. Most religions claim exclusive truth rejecting others. Some rationally recognize religious diversity. Others maliciously mandate murderous rejection (Deuteronomy 13:6-10).

Biblical scripture acknowledges “…each national group made its own gods…” (2 Kings 17:29). Renaissance Philosopher Montaigne penned “Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozens.” American Humorist Mark Twain wrote “Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them.”

World history records the human harm caused when governments and religion combined. Separation of religion and government is a fundamental liberty of free people keeping public government out of private religion and private religion out of public government. It was our Founders’ intent as evidenced by their original governing documents, countless historical records, acknowledgment of every President except the current clueless contrarian, and continuous judicial confirmation as the law of our land. It is also provided in the constitutions of most states.

We became the first nation in history formed without acknowledging dependency on a higher authority (emperor, monarch, deity, religion, scripture, etc). The Founders provided and protected freedom of belief by constitutionally removing religion from government and government from religion. Jesus even separated government and religion (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17).

The Declaration of Independence (not law nor a governing document) used universal terms and declared government derives its “…just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…”.

The Constitution Preamble states six secular reasons our nation was created for “We the People”.

Our Constitution provides “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  lawfully separating religion from government and protecting government from religion (Article VI). It was genesis for the historic United Nations document proclaiming “…everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” (Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

Our Constitution provides freedom of religious or non-religious belief (1st Amendment). It prohibits our government from “respecting” an establishment of religion lawfully separating government from religion and protecting religion from government. Its genesis was the 1785 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison mandating “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Our United States Armed Forces recognize belief diversity and require freedom of belief in the regulations of each military branch and in many other ways. For example, the US Department of Defense publishes its official list of recognized faith or belief categories which currently contains 221 different groups. Also, the US Department of Veteran Affairs official list of approved military grave markers currently includes 70 different religious and non-religious emblems.

The military, as part of our secular government, is strictly secular. The military mission is to defend the United States of American against its enemies (not proselytize a religion). The military service oath is to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States Constitution (not to a religion). Military chapels are provided for those who want religious worship and military chaplains are available for those who seek religious instruction.

Our military men and women desire and deserve the right to determine, practice and enjoy their own religious or non-religious beliefs like all Americans. They do not want the beliefs of those who do not respect their right, especially self-righteous superiors, imposed upon them in the military work environment interfering with their military duties. Such disrespectful and disruptive distractions adversely affect military morale and efficiency. Proper prevention occurs when military leaders show intelligence, integrity and insistence on compliance with the law, regulations, service oath and mission.

We Americans are very fortunate our Founders separated church and state in our establishment document, the US Constitution, providing and protecting every American with freedom of belief. We have the inalienable right to determine, practice and enjoy our own beliefs (but not the right to impose our beliefs on others). It is our cherished American individual liberty.

“Being no bigot myself to any mode of worship…”  and “…the Government of the United States,which gives bigotry no sanction.”  —1st President GEORGE WASHINGTON

“We should begin by setting conscience free. When men of all religions…shall enjoy equal liberty…we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.” —2nd President JOHN ADAMS

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others…we are bound…to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience.” —3rd President THOMAS JEFFERSON

“…religion and Govt. will exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” —4th President JAMES MADISON

 

Brigadier General John Compere, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review & US Army Legal Services Agency
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation


 

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8 Comments

  1. Allan Baumann

    Another fool who will not see heaven!

  2. Grey One Talks Sass

    Allan Baumann – a traitor to the USA who has failed to provide evidence for their claim of heaven or hell.

  3. Grey One Talks Sass

    Brigadier General John Compere, thank you for your letter. I’ll be bookmarking this post as ammunition in the ongoing battle against those who wish to turn the USA into a theocracy.

  4. G

    Baumann. Has anyone you know who has died, has come back and informed you if there is a heaven or hell?

  5. Allan Baumann

    You and every Demon Crap are the traitors of this country,vI am the Patriot.
    I personally do not know a person who has gone to heaven and come back, but the Apostle Paul, and there are many testimonies of people on YouTube who actually died, went to heaven, and came back. Just too bad you will not even make it there. Satan is waiting for your soul.

  6. Grey One Talks Sass

    Allan, am I not allowed my own opinions? You certainly feel you have the right to spread yours around as you wish.

    Waitaminute!!!! You aren’t “a” patriot, you’re The Patriot??

    Huh.

    Thought your dogma sounded familiar.

    Same lesson, different name. Learn to share Allan.

    As for your threat of Satan, I went to Hell, it was full so I was sent back. Even got a TShirt. 🙂 You forget Allan, there are some things worse than death. Scariest is I know what many of them are.

  7. G

    “I am the Patriot”

    Yeah, and there is a saying that patriotism is the last refuge for a scoundrel.

    Has Apostle Paul come back down to Earth and told you, Baumann, that there is a heaven and a hell?

    Won’t make it to heaven, Baumann? Well, as John Compere pointed out there are 10,000 religions and 2,000 different Christianities, so which Christian groups will be allowed into heaven? What about the rest of the other 10,000 religions that people who don’t believe in your Christian God and in your concept of a heaven and a hell?

    If I won’t make it to heaven, can you say that it was God’s plan for me to go to hell? Why bother to bring me into his world in the first place, if my final destination was already determined? Sound like one sick God who has nothing else to do except make people’s lives misery.

  8. G

    Baumann, if God is so powerful, then how come he can’t keep the Devil lock up Hades? If I am going to Hades, I won’t have to worry about being stuck there since the Devil always seems to walk in and out of it like it was a revolving door instead of a prison gate with guards at it to prevent people from leaving.

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