Freedom of Religion is a Right

Allen West Old School PatriotBY ALLEN WEST

One of the “teachable moments” from this COVID-19 issue comes from the fact that we have many in America who do not comprehend, nor understand, civics. There is so much confusion with people who believe that an elected official can unilaterally issue mandates, decrees, edicts, and orders and that it constitutes law. So many do not realize that America is a Constitutional Republic. That means we abide by our rule of law, the US Constitution, and individual rights, freedoms, and liberties are sovereign over the institution of government.

Government exists by the “consent of the governed” in America and we are to be governed, not ruled, by our duly elected representatives.

Laws are passed by a legislature, lawmakers. Laws are enforced by the executive branch. Laws are interpreted to ensure accordance with our constitution by the judicial branch, judges. None of this has anything to do with ideological agendas, but since we do not study our own founding documents — dismissed as the rantings of old white men –, we are set adrift on a tumultuous sea. Thus, we can even have someone running to be our chief executive, president, who asserts, “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” and have people cheer wildly. Vladimir Lenin would refer to them as “useful idiots.”

When you allow yourself to become a useful idiot, or worse, a mindless lemming, others can usurp your unalienable rights, manipulate you, and subjugate you. Let’s be honest, that is what progressive socialism is all about. One supporting branch of progressive socialism is secular humanism, and we have it on full display in this COVID-19 situation.

Simply explained, our rights come from a sovereign Creator God, of the Judeo-Christian faith heritage. These rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is the theory of the classical liberal political philosopher, John Locke. He called it the “Natural Rights” theory. Since the individual is endowed with their unalienable rights from a sovereign Creator God, then the individual is sovereign, but not to secular humanists and progressive socialists, who believe their ideological agenda defines your rights.

The belief in individual rights is a precious jewel we hold dear in America. And that is why our constitution was not ratified until it contained an individual Bill of Rights, our first ten amendments, to the Constitution — our rule of law.

The very first right, freedom, in our Bill of Rights is freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof. We do not have a state religion. We do not have a head of state who could be the head of church. Thomas Jefferson articulated that concern in a letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist Convention. Separation of Church and State does not mean separating the individual from their Judeo-Christian faith heritage. The concept, which is not a law, was meant to ensure that, as had happened in England with King Henry VIIIth, the state, or a ruler, could not institute a policy of religious persecution, and prosecution. King Henry created the Church of England based upon his ideological, personal, agenda of seeking a divorce. Today, in America, leftists are doing exactly the same: making their agenda their religion, and persecuting any and all who do not bow down.

Our first liberty is religious liberty, but not to leftists. As reported in Christian News:

“Churches and other houses of worship will be among the last things to reopen in New York state, along with concert halls and stadiums.

Religious institutions will be part of phase four of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s four-phase reopening plan. That’s because they invite large gatherings, which are a big concern as health officials try to minimize the spread of Covid-19. The earliest they could reopen, then, would be June 26.
During a briefing in Buffalo Monday, New York Budget Director Robert Mujica said the state is still considering whether to permit small gatherings at houses of worship. But large, regular services will be among the last types of gatherings to reopen.”

As I stated, our first liberty is our religious liberty, and no elected official has the enumerated power to undermine that right. Elected officials should issue guidelines for churches to follow, but they do not have any right to close any church. Actually, I find it funny that we have folks still in Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, but not churches? Who came up with this idea that our first liberty, religious liberty, was not “essential?” I have never read in our constitution anything about the “freedom to buy liquor,” yet liquor stores were deemed “essential.”

Please, do not give me the drivel about large gatherings of people. There is another individual right enshrined in our constitution called the right to peaceably assemble. But consider this, in Kentucky, the Democrat governor there ordered that even cars driving through on Easter Sunday for communion would have their license plates recorded…that’s really spooky!

Add to this the abjectly “stuck on stupid” punitive restrictions in place by Illinois Governor Pritzker, as reported by Fox News:

“Chicago has begun fining churches for holding services that do not comply with the Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order, with the Chicago Police Department telling Fox News that three churches will be hit with penalties for services held on Sunday, May 17.”

Governor Pritzker has publicly stated that churches may have to wait 1-3 years before they can open. Something tells me that the Chicago Cubs will be playing baseball later this year.

In Oregon, the progressive socialist Governor there has teamed up with the State Supreme Court to block churches from opening.

“The Oregon Supreme Court granted an emergency motion Monday evening putting on hold a lower court’s injunction earlier in the day granting churches statewide preliminary relief to Gov. Kate Brown’s restrictions on mass gatherings and in-person worship.
Oregon Supreme Court Presiding Justice Thomas Balmer granted the motion per the request of Brown and other unnamed defendants hours after Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Balmer explained that the plaintiffs, which included 10 churches and ministries throughout the state led by Elkhorn Baptist Church of Baker City, had until Friday to submit responses to the defendants’ petition.

“Following swift action by the Oregon Supreme Court, my emergency orders to protect the health and safety of Oregonians will remain in effect statewide while the court hears arguments in this lawsuit,” Brown said in a statement.  ”From the beginning of this crisis, I have worked within my authority, using science and data as my guide, heeding the advice of medical experts.”

Funny, Oregon Governor Kate Brown states that she has worked within her authority, using science and data? Needless to say, she has not read the Constitution, as she violates the very First Liberty, religious liberty, of Oregonians.

Even when Christian churches seek to act within guidelines, it is to no avail. Back to what is happening in New York:

“The Central Bible Baptist Church in New York, which had to discontinue its drive-in worship services after being threatened by the Massena Police Department that a fine of up to $1,000 would be imposed, on Friday challenged the claim that drive-in services violate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 Executive Orders.

“You are mistaken in your assertion that church ‘drive-in’ worship services are prohibited under New York’s current emergency orders and could result in fines,” wrote The Rutherford Institute, a national, nonprofit civil liberties organization, to Police Chief Adam J. Love on Friday on behalf of the church.

The Chief of Police warned Pastor Samson Ryman, who held drive-in worship services on May 3 with 23 worshipers in 18 vehicles, that his church violated the law and he could be subject to prosecution for holding the drive-in services and would face a fine of up to $1,000.

“Although federal and state governments have adopted specific restrictive measures in an effort to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the current public health situation has not resulted in the suspension of fundamental constitutional rights such as religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right of assembly,” the letter said. Police “threats … are grounded in a misunderstanding of the law and a misapplication of the Governor’s Executive Orders, which severely chills their exercise of the fundamental right to practice their religion,” it added.”

This is not about “the public good.” This is all about despots, tyrants, seeking to “restructure things to fit our vision” — the words of Democrat Congressman James Clyburn.

Sadly, some churches are facing backlash for practicing their constitutional right to assemble and worship. From Fox News:

“A Mississippi church in the midst of a legal battle to stay open despite local shutdown orders was burned to the ground early Wednesday morning. According to first responders, the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs was vandalized and suffered a large explosion to the back of the church. The incident is being investigated as a criminal act of arson.

“I Bet you stay home now you hypokrits,” [sic] read one message spray painted on the church parking lot, Thomas More Society senior counsel and lawyer for the church Stephen Crampton told Fox News on Thursday.”

I am reporting on all of these stories to say wake up, folks! Arise, pastors, men, and women of God, as this is the opening salvo. Don’t tell me about being able to go online and have church.

The internet shall not become the new “catacombs,” and just remember, the left does not have to subpoena your sermons, they have you videotaped online. That is what the ChiComs do to Christian churches

Editor’s Note: This column previously appeared at The Old School Patriot. Used with the permission of the author.

Lt. Col. Allen B. West is the former U.S. Congressman representing Florida’s 22nd District, a Fox News Contributor, Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, former Executive Director of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas Texas, and the author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom. Col. West is the third of four generations of military servicemen in his family. During his 22 year career in the United States Army, he was awarded the Bronze Star, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals (1 with Valor device), and a Valorous Unit Award. In 1993 he was named the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year. Col. West believes it will be principled constitutional conservative policies, not politics, which will secure a sound economic future for Americans. LTC West is running for Chair of the Republican Party of Texas. To support his efforts, please visit his campaign website

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