Wednesday, October 26, 2011
An Open Letter to Pres. Obama on the 1st Amendment
Dear President Obama,
The USA legal system has always upheld the “ministerial exception” – that we are free to choose our pastors/ministers without the imposition of Federal hiring guidelines – in accordance with the First Amendment’s church-state separation clause:
• Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Removing the “ministerial exception” represents “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. My identity and pride as an American rests upon the fact that American has always insured my right to worship and follow my faith according to the dictates of my conscience. It is because of the First Amendment that our identity as Americans could flourish. It is because of these guarantees that we can all live together in harmony, without worry that one belief system – ie. secularism – might swallow up our liberties. It is these guarantees that allow the various faiths to live together peaceably under one umbrella. It had also been these guarantees that enabled our 13 disparate colonies to form a Union, providing for us the necessary common glue.
Now these liberties seem to be in jeopardy. According to PBS:
• The Obama administration is taking a hard line in the case [Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Opportunity Commission]. To the dismay of many religious groups, the Justice Department urged the [Supreme] Court to reject the ministerial exception altogether, saying the First Amendment doesn’t offer such special protection.
According to World magazine:
• The Justice Department argued that religious institutions should be treated just like other institutions in matters of hiring. [Leondra] Kruger’s argument shocked the justices in what was already a blockbuster religious freedom case, Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Opportunity Commission. “This is extraordinary-extraordinary,” Justice Antonin Scalia told Kruger during oral arguments. “There in black and white in the Constitution are special protections for religion.” One of the liberal justices jumped in on Scalia’s side: “I too find this amazing,” said Justice Elena Kagan. (Oct. 22, p.8)
We therefore pray that, for the benefit of all Americans, you will champion the continuation of these rights and privileges that have made America great.