Defending against Attacks on the First Amendment

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
-- First Amendment, United States Constitution

 

The 5 Freedoms Project educates the public on First Amendment rights, and defends the same against government intrusion.

 

If you have had your rights violated please:

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Religion – underpinning of culture

Government schools have virtually eliminated tolerance for people of faith, asserting that even the study of religion has no place in the syllabus. Courthouses are devoid of anything but snowmen and reindeer: no crosses, no menorah, no star, no green trees. Purging any vestige of the transcendent is the mission of pressure groups that voice objection to the mere mention of faith. For instance, federal judges brazenly block the name of Jesus Christ in prayers at the convening of a government body. Colleges drive student groups off campus by requiring that their officers adhere to positions antithetical to their faith and conscience. Profession of faith principles by Christian businesses are punished by government. 

Religion supplies guardrails for the safe and free pursuit of the American dream. 

 

Speech – individual expressions in word and deed

Early sedition laws subjected citizens to business and reputational ruination and, upon prosecution, even imprisonment. Today, governmental entities and government-run schools are proscribing “Hate Speech” and “Bullying,” constricting reasonable debate. Such speech codes endanger the underpinnings of a free society. Government-approved norms empower states, cities and educational institutions to select winners and losers. Required or compelled speech is a relatively new assault on this fundamental freedom. Colleges actively enforce speech codes, safe zones, trigger warnings, and ban “disruptive” speakers. Free Speech is now derided as “weaponization,” and a real and present danger to the general welfare!

Free speech is essential to the healthy public discourse of a self-governing people. 

 

Press – revealer of falsehood, forager for facts

Our Founders understood the human propensity for corruption, and bestowed on a free, honest and independent press the ability to expose the workings of government. The Founders also relied heavily on publication of the 85 essays of The Federalist, using print to circulate their opinions about the draft Constitution. Now, in the same vein, open dissemination of knowledge and conviction via electronic media is critical. Today control of information wielded by vast internet powers, colluding with acquiescent public officials, puts at risk freedom of the press. A new Orwellian control of the Internet belies what was to be a modern “open forum” of ideas. A tech oligarchy has created an unfettered new leviathan, controlling social media and other posts, suppressing persons with whom this “New Tech Oligarchy” disagrees. By shutting down access to conservative voices, freedom of expression is suppressed. In this age, governments have turned a blind eye to the people’s First Amendment rights. 

A free press, continually bathed in integrity, remains of utmost importance to our republic. 

 

Assembly – individual association, group collaboration

In 2016, a prior restraint on lawful assembly, speech, and the practice of faith was twice issued by the Mayor of Houston, Texas. Churches were expected to produce advance copies of sermons. The announced rationale was to determine whether ministers had planned to talk about what many pastors considered Biblically-proscribed sexual activity. Other efforts to hijack rights of assembly routinely appear in government-run universities, which burden Christian student organizations.

The right to assemble affords citizens the ability to collaborate freely without disruption by government. 

 

Petition – redressing grievances with government

Unelected bureaucrats have amassed a government more powerful than ever imagined at its founding. These most treacherous words appear in federal legislation: “The Secretary is authorized and directed to take such actions as are necessary to promulgate the intent of this act.” Presidential edicts by using “a pen and a phone” undermine the ability of the public to exert its influence. By denying or slow-walking of tax exempt status of public interest groups, hostile agencies exercise power over ordinary citizens.  Sadly, persons of faith are marginalized, with government agencies and schools misapplying the separation clause as a means to restrict rights solely on the basis of religion.

The right to petition the government fortifies the voice of the people as they stand for their liberties.


...when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasy, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something––but then it was too late.
-- (adapted from writings about Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran pastor and theologian)