AMERICAN BILL OF RIGHTS DAY (December 15)

REMEMBER AMERICAN BILL OF RIGHTS DAY!

Our American Bill of Rights is celebrated on December 15 commemorating the day in 1791 when the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution became effective after passage by Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.

32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated December 15th as the official national observance on the 150th anniversary in 1941 and declared our Bill of Rights “…the great American charter of personal liberty and human dignity.” .

The Bill of Rights guarantees all Americans the following individual liberties –

1st – right to freedom from religion, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, press, peaceable assembly and grievance petition.

2nd – right to keep and bear arms.

3rd – right to freedom from forced housing of soldiers without consent or law.

4th – right to freedom from search and seizure without probable cause and sworn warrant.

5th – right of criminal accused to grand jury determination, no double jeopardy, no self-incrimination, and no private property seizure without just compensation.

6th – right of criminal accused to fair and speedy trial by impartial jury, witness confrontation, compulsory process for witnesses, and defense counsel.

7th – right of civil litigants to jury trial, and fact determination by jury protected.

8th – right to freedom from excessive bail, fine and punishment.

9th – rights provided may not deny or disparage others retained by the people.

10th – rights not provided federal government are reserved to the states or people.

The First Amendment provides our historic religious freedoms by prohibiting government from “respecting”  religion establishments and requiring government to refrain from religion remaining neutral (i.e. neither pro-religion nor anti-religion but religion-neutral).

Constitution Article VI (“…no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office…), together with the First Amendment, lawfully separates religion from government (aka: separation of church and state). Jesus also separated government and religion (Matthew 22:21;Mark 12:17).

Genesis for the First Amendment was the landmark 1786 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison separating the State of Virginia from the Anglican Church and mandating “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever” .

The Bill of Rights First Amendment also provides and protects individual freedom of belief (religious or non-religious) for our US Armed Forces. The regulations of all military branches therefore recognize, respect and require belief freedom. Other examples include the US Department of Defense official recognition of 221 different faith or belief groups for the military and the US Department of Veteran Affairs official recognition of 70 different faith or belief emblems for military graves. Military chapels are available for those wanting religious worship and military chaplains are available for those who want religious instruction.

It is historically significant that the United States became the first nation independently established with no acknowledgment of dependency on a higher authority (e.g. emperor, monarch, dictator, deity, religion, scripture, etc.).

The Declaration of Independence used universal terms and declared governments derive their “…just Powers from the Consent of the Governed”. The Preamble states six secular reasons the Constitution was established by and for “We the People”. The Constitution contains no reference to superior authority other than the people and their government.

Our Bill of Rights also provided the basis for the historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 declaring “…everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and designating other human liberties.

It is important to note there is no individual constitutional right to carelessly spread a deadly disease (e.g. COVID-19) that can kill fellow Americans.

On this 229th anniversary of the American Bill of Rights, we can truly cherish with patriotic pride, respectful reverence and genuine gratitude the individual liberties constitutionally guaranteed for all Americans.

“The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.” – George Washington (Founder & 1st President).

“Liberty must at all hazards be supported.” – John Adams (Founder & 2nd President).

“A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse…” – THOMAS JEFFERSON (Founder & 3rd President).

“The purpose of the Constitution is to restrict the majority’s ability to harm a minority.” – JAMES MADISON (Founder & 4th President).

 

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

 

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4 Comments

  1. G

    Too bad there is no Bill of Rights for the American workers. Corporations and wealthy people always seem to have more rights than the rest of us.

  2. Tom O

    Yes, America operates on the Golden Rule: those who have the gold make the rules.

  3. Patriot Pastor

    Gen Compere, should read the first amendment again, no where does it say there is a freedom from religion. He is reading into what is not there in the original Constitution. Morons like him want there to be a freedom from religion.

  4. Mark Sebree

    PP,

    You obviously cannot read for comprehension. The first clause of the First Amendment, as well as other clauses in the US Constitution provide the Freedom FROM Religion by limiting the actions of the government. It is an effect of what was written, even if it is not stated explicitly.

    The First Amendment states in its first clause that the government cannot make any law that “respects the establishment of religion”, which means that it cannot make any law that favors or disfavors any religion or religious practice. The only exception to this is where those practices have a secular reason to forbid them, such as human sacrifice, child marriage, and female genital mutilation, and where the law would apply equally to people inside and outside the religion that promotes it.

    Article VI states that the government may not use religion as a criteria for employment, i.e. any elected office or public trust.

    The 14th Amendment extends all the restrictions on the federal government to the state and local level.

    Just because the Constitution does use the exact words “freedom from religion” does not mean that it does not protect people from having other people’s religious beliefs imposed on them by the government. You not only have to look at the words that are written, but you also have to comprehend what those words mean and what effect they have.

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