Which Rights Are Righter?

I love the United States of America! I won’t say that we’re the greatest nation in the world—so many people believe that about their native land. As soon as we proclaim one to be the greatest, we automatically infer that all others are somehow inferior; a thought I won’t entertain for even a nanosecond.

I do believe that our forefathers displayed noble and brilliant thought in drafting our Constitution. We seem to have forgotten; however, that our system of government was designed with a low opinion of human nature in mind. Our nation’s founders had had their fill of tyrannical governments and their oppressive tendencies. The result is a system of freedoms, checks and balances that, while imperfect, has in many ways been the envy (and inspiration) of the world for over two hundred years.

The First Amendment of our Bill of Rights reads: “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.”

I would be in error to say that all of our forefathers were Christians; although the vast majority held to some type of Judeo/Christian ideal (as evidenced by the Bible passages adorning our government buildings). Still, they stood unified in their perspective that religion had all too often been improperly employed as a tool to oppress people of various beliefs. Thus, the very first article of the First Amendment addresses the freedom of religion, while the second wisely brings freedom of speech into the picture. These two freedoms helped construct the foundation upon which our free nation stands in spite of our natural human tendencies toward control.

Photo by hyku – CC BY-SA 2.0

Here is the fundamental problem: As gay rights (which are not protected by the Constitution) have been championed, our freedoms of religion and speech (which are protected) have been squelched. (Please read my previous post if you have not done so already.)

Having conversed with national college ministry leaders (and Christian legal counsel) at various conferences since the early 1990’s, I have become well aware of the proliferation of illegal anti-discrimination statements and hate speech codes in government funded public universities. According to researcher Gerald Uelmen, “There were approximately 75 hate speech codes in place at U.S. colleges and universities in 1990; by 1991, the number grew to over 300.” These vaguely worded codes (which do not hold up in court) continue to be utilized to discriminate against the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Such trends are becoming increasingly evident in other sectors of the general public.

I don’t believe for a minute that every proponent of the LGBT agenda is antagonistic toward conservative Christianity. Most are concerned more about the freedoms and well-being of the gay community in general. I think the same could be said about the conservative Christian community—most Christians are not anti-gay; nor do they advocate the promotion of hate or discrimination. The majority just wants to preserve the freedom of religion for themselves and their children.

Which rights are righter? The answer is not simple because the pain of the gay community is very real. However, intended or not, the push for special rights for the gay community is steadily eroding our First Amendment freedoms—a terribly dangerous trend.

It’s difficult for us to imagine the United States not being a free nation, but just a few short years ago we didn’t envision this country not always being financially prosperous. Our forefathers knew what they were doing! Removing our foundational freedoms of religion and speech will pry open the door to totalitarian government. If (or when) that happens, I don’t think it will go well for either the conservative Christian or the gay communities!


http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v5n2/codes.html <accessed 10/19/11>