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The Inconvenient Amendment

August 3, 2020

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.
– Amendment I, United States Constitution

I have the problem with the First Amendment. In fact, I think I have a problem with almost every part of it.

Congress Shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

What problem do I have with the “establishment clause”? I think churches are just as essential as businesses. There are many who have rightly claimed, “It’s possible to worship at home.” And for many people it is. In fact, that’s what my church has chosen to do. But, not everyone worships the same. And just as I don’t want anyone telling me how to worship I don’t feel I can tell anyone else how to worship. If someone considers it essential that meet in person, I don’t think we can say they cannot.

With that said, I don’t think churches should have special rights. But, if an essential business can operate at 50% capacity with social distancing and masks, there is no reason a church cannot operate at 50% with social distancing and masks.

Lots of people disagree with me.

. . .Or abridging the freedom of speech. . .

My “problem” with freedom of speech? Hate speech is protected speech.

In fact, hate speech is the most important speech to protect. It’s easy to protect and support speech you agree with. It’s more difficult to protect speech that you disagree with.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
– Evelyn Beatrice Hall “The Friends of Voltaire”

If we cannot protect the speech of those we disagree with, who will protect our free speech when it becomes inconvenient?

. . .Or of the press

I think my “problem” with the press is one that many people have. I hate the partisanship. I hate that Fox News is the Republican station, that MSNBC is the Democrats station.

Tell me, if you are a Conservative do you believe anything that MSNBC broadcasts? If you are Liberal do you think Fox Newss gets anything correct?

No, and that’s a shame. I think it all started down hill when broadcast companies decided to make news divisions profit centers. That led to the efforts to attrack eyeballs and later clicks.

It’s Constitutional, but that doesnt’ make it right.

. . .or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. . .

Black Lives Matter, KKK, Gay Pride, WestBro Baptist Church? Name your least favorite group. They all have a right to protest. They all have a right to police protection while they protest.

Sending troops into the streets to disperse protests? Not cool.

. . .and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. . .

Actually, I don’t have much of a problem with this part.

I guess it’s not such an inconvenient amendment after all.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Well considered positions as always. The only thing I will say is that risk of exposure is and needs to be part of the decision. Singing and the normal hugs and handshakes are part of the service and have led to, and will continue to lead to massive infections. Its part of the problem I have with the notion of ‘essential’ services. Essential is a misleading word, implying an absolute. Would we meet in church if human eating space aliens invaded? Probably not. Important? Sure, I will grant you that. But services need to be made safe before they are allowed. Some of the problem is this is new territory, so the first few instances are understandable. We know in broad what works and what doesn’t. So, applying your position (absolutely correct, in my mind) of not having special rights they need to alter services so that they can be held as would say a sporting event. Currently those are being held without spectators.

    While I am not religious, I look forward to a time when those who are can meet again safely.

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