The New First Freedom: Sexual vs. Religious Freedom

Barb Wire

Take a look at the Bill of Rights. What’s the first freedom listed? And why is that first freedom on the ropes today?

By John Stonestreet

The first words of the Bill of Rights read, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Two hundred and twenty-five years ago, the Founders thought enough about the importance of religious freedom that they put it at the top of the Bill of Rights.

One can’t help but wonder where religious freedom would rank if we held the debate today.

The question occurred to several of us here at BreakPoint after reading an article at Yahoo entitled “From Peyote to Sex: Religious Liberty Fight Recast.” In it, Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press described how the religious freedom issues being litigated in the courts have changed over the decades.

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Seventy years ago, courts were deciding whether Jehovah’s Witnesses could be compelled to pledge allegiance to the flag. Forty years ago, the issue was whether Amish children could be compelled to attend school past ninth grade. But today, mainstream Christian groups like Catholic nuns, evangelical businessmen, and Christian nonprofit organizations are being told to do what just a few years ago was unimaginable for them. And the issues being decided all boil down to the same thing: can Christians be compelled to go along with the Sexual Revolution as a condition for full participation in American society?

Now if that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s not. Last summer, a justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court wrote that the state’s anti-discrimination law compelled Christians to “compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”

He called this compromise “the price of citizenship” and argued that this compromise was “part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

Now leaving aside the one-sided nature of this “compromise”—notice the other side is never asked to compromise its beliefs—it’s telling that the “tolerance” being called for concerns sex.

In many ways, sexual freedom is becoming, if it’s not already become, the first freedom to Americans.

If that sounds like an overstatement, consider the fact that just about the only speech our culture will not tolerate is any which calls the sexual revolution into question.

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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