America: Land of the Free?

Are we free? Or just freer?

I am no student of the U.S. Constitution.  I am not a lawyer or a politician.  I am no longer in the U.S. military.  I am not an expert on anything theological.  I know that there is no such thing as a free lunch and there is always fine print on a Buy One Get One Free offer.  I make no claims to be a purveyor of freedom, but when we are talking about truths we hold self-evident, shouldn’t free mean, “without stipulation?”

The Foundation of America

Yes, I realize there is an argument for the “framer’s intent” regarding the Constitution. And yes, I understand that laws are meant to protect the majority from the minority. I also can empathize with the religious desire to help all the lost souls be found.

I once held a strict belief that all America’s problems were rooted in a mass movement away from Jesus. I once held firmly to the idea that laws were correctly enacted in the best interest of the greater good. I also thought that an infringement on my freedoms was acceptable as long as it was in my best interest.

My interpretation of history has always been that America was founded on the idea of freedom. The foundation of America was based on ideas surrounding freedom of speech, of religion, freedom to bear arms and the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

However, two incidences in the last couple years have forced me to question these previously held beliefs. Numerous encounters with close-minded individuals have forced me to question my interpretation of history, my definition of freedom and the very foundation that America was built on.

Did the framers of the Constitution really mean freedom to worship God as we choose? Or did they mean we are free to worship the God they choose?

Did the framers of the Constitution really intend to allow us to speak freely? Or did they mean we could speak out against England, in agreement with them?

Warren Jeffs and the FDLS

Warren Jeffs is currently sitting in jail because the religion he chose is illegal.  His expression of faith is based on communal living with multiple wives.  He is a polygamist.  I am not saying all roads lead to Heaven, and I am not saying polygamy and/or incest is acceptable.  What I am questioning is, why this man, an American, is not allowed to worship God as he chooses?

Dale and Leilani Neumann

Dale and Leilani Neumann are both currently in jail because the religion they chose allowed for the death of their child. Their expression of faith is based on the idea that God heals when God deems it appropriate. They are Pentecostal Christrians. I am not saying that human sacrifice is acceptable and I am not saying that a child should be allowed to suffer needlessly. What I am questioning is why this family, two Americans, are not allowed to worship God as they choose?

Who are we to say that it was not in God’s plan for this child to die young? Who are we to say that this family wouldn’t grow into amazing people through their loss? Who am I to say their beliefs are wrong?

Beliefs cannot be right or wrong – they are just like opinions – they are not fact. They are open to interpretation, analysis and growth. When we are open to others’ beliefs and opinions, we allow ourselves to gain perspective, increase compassion, and grow spiritually.

When asked about religious freedom,people will typically demand if for themselves, but refuse it for others.
When asked about religious freedom,people will typically demand if for themselves, but refuse it for others.

Again, I tell you, I am a Bible-reading Christ follower. I have very strict guidelines I choose to live my life by. I am not interested in offering freedom of speech to Larry Flynt or freedom of assembly to the Ku Klux Klan or freedom of religion to members of the Order of the Solar Temple or freedom to pursue happiness to cannibals.

But yet, I have to then wonder – is America really free?

Should Americans be allowed to worship HOWEVER they choose?

  • That's a ridiculous idea. Of course there has to be limitations to freedom. Humans are debased and will do dastardly things.
  • Yes, of course. Freedom is just that. The ability to do whatever, however we choose. There is no reason for the government to be involved at all.
  • I don't know. You've raised an interesting question. I need to think it over.
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Comments 14 comments

Scott.Life 7 years ago

In America you are not free. You are just more free then most. If you don't believe me just exercise your constitutional right to disagree with those in power forcefully and see how long your freedom lasts. All too often we say we stand for liberty, what we mean though is our liberty to dictate what is wrong or right to those we deem less worthy then ourselves. Either freedom applies to all men under God or we are nothing more then elitist power brokers pushing a self serving agenda.

In my travels I have found that many nations do not take us seriously because our sense of democracy is so skewed towards the privileged and powerful. We preach freedom for all but shout down any whose voice speaks out against the popular trend. We crucify those who preach equality, and ridicule them as idealist.We can not secure democracy in our own government is it any wonder we can not instill it onto others. We are a nation of many ruled by a few who serve only their own self interest and masters in money.

Governments should fear their people! Not people their government. Leslie I have often spent long hours in debate wondering what i was doing in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Were we there to bring freedom? It seemed like it, but looking at the results I have to say no. Iraq was a cultural wonder of the middle east and now it is a wasteland of anarchy. What have we done in the name of freedom? We made the same old mistake we always do. Freedom can not be given to any nation or people. It must be earned fought for and taken by force. We earned our freedom from England and paid in blood. Those unwilling to stand and fight will be slaves. That is the terrible cost of it. The Afghans bless their hearts, know this all too well 35 years now they have been fighting for a country of their own and still it goes on. This was a good topic and one that has stirred some buried feelings in me.

What is the price for real freedom and would you pay?


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Although I a firm believer in freedom of religion, I also believe that we must have certain guidelines for worship. You do bring up an interesting fact, Leslie. Polygamy is actual acceptable in my country but strangely as it sounds, it is low-key. Men are allowed mia noys or "minor wives." These women provide what traditional wives cannot or will not for their husbands.

As far as allowing those under our adult supervision, euthanasia is another matter that Pentecoastal Christians may justify (I apologize, as I don't know the full details). But I can understand why this is illegal.

Although these two cases don't apply, I'm accepting of any and all religions that exhibit love and compassion, especially to those who give to charity. So long as a religion does not promote harm to others, I'm pretty much okay with. Thank you for sharing this, Leslie. You brought up a very controversial issue.


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 7 years ago Author

Scott,

Thank you for sharing your opinion on the matter. I appreciate your well thought-out addition to my hub. I have no interest in debating, just learning.

I agree that America seems to have become a group of elitest power brokers pushing their self-serving agenda. I'm not a conspiracy theorist or even one who thinks "the man keeps me down." I just have seen so often in individuals and collective groups a lack of desire to actually listen, to appreciate, to learn from differences.

I'm not some new age universalist, I honestly am a very conservative Republican Christian, but I cannot help but question my own elitest mentalities...

Thank you again for your comment. I am glad my writing has once again stirred something in you.

Blessings,

Leslie


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 7 years ago Author

Dohn,

Thank you for once again reading my work. I always appreciate your responses.

I truthfully do not know where on stand on this issue of religious freedom. I was trying to stretch myself as a writer by delving into a controversial topic without being polarizing. Hopefully, I succeeded.

I don't think Christians typically accept euthanasia; they would probably see it similar with abortion. However, they do wholeheartedly tend to fight for capital punishment. I do not understand the desire to fight for life of an unborn fetus, but demand a "sinner" be killed by the government. It seems like a contradiction to me. Are you for life? Then you have to be for ALL life.

Anyway, thank you again for your opinion, Dohn. I appreciate your perspective.

Blessings,

Leslie


Scott.Life 7 years ago

I think on the issue of Euthanasia, people like the couple you mentioned have allowed their faith to give them tunnel vision. They believe God is the only true healer, while this is admirable it is also extremely short sighted. The Lord has created all the universe and everything in it. Thus modern medicine is a resource of his power and will. We read again and again in the Bible that men are the workers of God's miracles and the manifestation of his power. Saying that God will heal your child but only in the way you determine and wish is limiting God's response and power in your own life. Yes they killed their daughter by not allowing God to work through every possible avenue available. It was not God's will that their child die, but their own. Unfortunately most will never be able to stretch their mind far enough to grasp the truth of it. You can not dictate the circumstances of God's miracles. This is not faith, faith is letting go and expecting that the answer may come in many ways unlooked for and unimagined. What a shame. My heart goes out to those parents for their loss.

Their crime came not when they chose to follow their freedom to worship but when that freedom overode their daughters right to live. Denying her medical aid that may have saved her life was a violation of her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Just as murder is a sin not because you have killed someone but in doing so you have assumed the authority of God over life and death, and destroyed what he has created. This girls parents through ignorance I feel took it upon themselves to assume God's authority not surrender to it. If after pursuing every possible avenue and finding none that worked, their child still died then I might believe that it was her time.


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 7 years ago Author

I agree with you, Scott. The reason we have to have laws in place that restrict freedoms, is because the parents' freedom to worship overrode the daughter's right to live...it's a difficult situation, I think. A rock and a hard place, really. I still don't know exactly how I feel about the issue; I just wanted to stretch my writing skills and open up a discussion about religious freedom (without starting an argument). I don't know that there is really ever going to be a resolution to the idea of actual, literal religious freedom so long as humans are in existence.

Thank you for your opinion on the matter. I appreciate you taking the time to think about religious freedom.


By Grace 7 profile image

By Grace 7 7 years ago

an excellent and thought provoking hub, much to mull over


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 7 years ago Author

Thank you, Grace. I am glad I have impacted you in some small way.

Blessings,

Leslie


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

This is thought provoking alright. I'm not sure we can have complete religious freedom. The problem with Liberty is too many people consider it license. Some can claim they have founded a new religion that requires crack in their ceremonies. What then? Or polygamy, or marrying 10 year old girls, or butchering chickens to drink the blood, or Satanists and Witches. The Founding Fathers certainly had Christianize in mind when they wrote Freedom of Religion. I think Judaism is widely accepted here and JW, SDA, LDS, and so on (that are a tad outside the mainstream. As I said—tough question. Who decides what rituals or ceremonies are legal? And furthermore, tax exempt?


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 7 years ago Author

Excellent point, James, "The problem with Liberty is too many people consider it license." The manner in which people have come to define anarchy is actually completely different than the definition. Yes, anarchy is a governmentless society, but the intent was to have the people govern THEMSELVES, not to have a the freedom to whatever whenever however they choose.

I think that your question, "Who decides what rituals or ceremonies are legal," is my exact question. Why is polygamy illegal and not communion for children?

Thank you for visiting my hub; I hope you enjoyed your time here.

Blessings,

Leslie


WIlliam Belle 5 years ago

Freedom is a strange word and an even stranger concept. We think we know it until we run into specific cases which make us question what our forefathers may have actually meant. Does freedom truly exist? I have to pay my taxes. Is freedom, "total freedom" merely anarchy? I'm not free to drive through a red light. There is more to this than meets the eye and it is certainly not as simple as one would think.

Imagine this freedom:

http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/freedom-of-sp...


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 5 years ago Author

"We think we know it until we run into specific cases which make us question what our forefathers may have actually meant."

I couldn't have said it better myself! Thank you, William Belle for reading my hub.

Leslie


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 5 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

But Leslie, using Warren Jeffs as an example, if he is free to worship God as he chooses, then that means that the little girls in his congregation are not free from being held down and raped by him, as a part of his worshiping God as he chooses. Warren Jeffs is currently sitting in jail because he is a pedophile and rapist, not because the religion he chose is illegal.


broussardleslie profile image

broussardleslie 5 years ago Author

Silva, thank you for reading my writing.

I understand the point you are trying to make - his religion infringes on another's rights - which is probably EXACTLY why it is currently illegal in America.

All I'm saying, is if we are going to make a religion illegal, then we aren't REALLY free to practice whatever religion we choose. We are freer (than other countries), but not truly free.

Again, thank you for your comment.

Many blessings,

Leslie Broussard

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