Freedom Of Religion Versus Freedom From Religion

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Re: Bob Tamasy: A Problem Of Prepositions

Mr. Tamasy,

As a lifetime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I was sent a link to your article.  Unfortunately, the basis for your pro-religion assertion -- that freedom of religion isn't the same as freedom from religion -- is definitely not the way the Supreme Court has interpreted the Establishment Clause for decades.

See these Supreme Court case law citations: 

"We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a state nor the federal government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any 'religion.¹ Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions against nonbelievers." (Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495 (1961)).

"(T)he individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith, or none at all. This conclusion derives support not only from the interest in respecting the individual¹s freedom of conscience, but also from the conviction that religious beliefs worthy of respect are the product of free and voluntary choice by the faithful, and from recognition of the fact that the political interest in forestalling intolerance extends beyond intolerance among Christian sect­or even intolerance among 'religions¹ ­to encompass intolerance of the disbeliever or uncertain." (Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 53-54 (1985)).

Santa Fe Ind. School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 309-310 (2000) and Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S., at 688 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring)

As a "veteran journalist" (your words) and hopefully a responsible one, you should make a correction that informs your readers what the law of the U.S. actually is.  

Or at the very least, you should publish my response to your blatantly incorrect assertion that "that our revered Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion ... If anything, it assures freedom from the establishment of non-religion."

As you've seen from the citations above, that's clearly not the position the Supreme Court (whose primary function is to be the final law of the land in interpreting the Constitution) has taken for over half a century.  You owe it to your readers to be factual, not fanciful, when it comes to legal issues.

Perry Mitchell


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