Bryan Fischer is not happy that a group of satanists are trying to argue for a religious exemption from the law, the kind that Christians demand daily, and he is once again promoting the absolutely moronic claim that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.
I have contended for years that the First Amendment, as given by the Founders, provides religious liberty protections for Christianity only. Most attorney types, befuddled by years of untethered Supreme Court activism, think it covers any and all religions you can name.
The results of this expansive but badly misguided understanding of the First Amendment have not been too costly to this point. But with Islam growing in America like a noxious weed, some of the more troublesome aspects of this distorted view of religious liberty are becoming evident, when it comes to things like school curricula, halal food, and Christian evangelism at Muslim street fairs.
These problems have been brought into stark relief now by Satanists, who are pressing for exactly the same kind of religious liberty protections the Supreme Court just recognized for Hobby Lobby…
Now if the word “religion” in the First Amendment was intended by the Founders to refer to any belief system in a supernatural power, then the Satanists are absolutely right. They have just as much a First Amendment claim as anybody else.
But if by the word “religion” the Founders meant Christianity, then they don’t. And Muslims don’t either.
Joseph Story, the longest serving associate justice of the Supreme Court and author of the first definitive history of the Constitution, wrote this about the First Amendment (emphasis mine):
“The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment…”
He loves that quote from Story. Here’s the problem: Story was 9 years old when the Bill of Rights was written. He had nothing to do with it. Notice that he doesn’t quote any of the actual founding fathers? That’s because they didn’t support his claim. Here’s what some of the key founders actually believed:
George Washington, the first president of the U.S., stated in 1783, “the bosom of America is open to receive… the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges… They may be [Muslims], Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be atheists.”
Washington’s idea of America was that the country should be founded upon religious freedom, liberty and justice for all, principles that Chief Justice Moore wants to apply only to Christians.
Washington was not the only founding fathers who extended American rights to non-Christians. Writing for the Virginia colonial legislature in 1777, Thomas Jefferson , the author of the Declaration of Independence, noted that “the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian, and the [Muslim], the [Hindu], and infidel of every denomination” are welcome to the U.S. Jefferson’s statue at the University of Virginia also shows him holding a tablet which states, “Religious Freedom, 1786,” below which is inscribed “Allah” alongside “Brahma.”
None of this is actually relevant to the issue that Fischer is discussing, of course, because the demand for a religious exemption is based not on the First Amendment but on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which undoubtedly covers all religions. In fact, it was written specifically to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that denied an exemption for Native American religions. So even if Fischer were right about the First Amendment — and he isn’t — it would have nothing to do with the issue he’s talking about. Bryan Fischer — full of shit as usual.