“Freedom of Worship” Isn’t True Religious Freedom

January 16
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Friends,

I recently attended the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations. Although the event was hosted by private law and advocacy groups including the Idaho State Bar, it was held at the state capitol building.

During one of the event sessions, a liberal panelist kept referencing our supposed “freedom of worship.” She argued that while every person has the right to believe whatever they want and teach those doctrines in church, they do not have the right to act on those beliefs in the public square.

The term “freedom of worship” was popularized by the Obama administration. Although “freedom of worship” and “religious freedom” sound similar, they are not interchangeable. And much too often, those trumpeting the former are trying to undermine the latter.

Genuine religious freedom includes the right to practice your faith without undue government interference. In other words, you have the right to live and work according to your sincerely held religious beliefs.

This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”) and in Article 1, Section 4 of the Idaho State Constitution (“The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed”).

Freedom of worship, on the other hand, is a far more limited protection. It merely protects an individual’s right to worship within the four walls of the church as he or she sees fit. This truncated view permits you to believe what you want, so long as it doesn’t motivate your actions or rollover into your everyday life from Monday to Saturday.

Thankfully, recent survey data provide promising evidence that the American people still remain squarely on the side of religious liberty. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty recently published their findings that 73 percent of Americans support the right of businesspeople to operate their businesses according to their religious beliefs. Additionally, 76 percent believe people or groups should not be forced to participate in actions or work that violates their religious beliefs and conscience.

Sadly, the opponents of religious freedom aren’t dissuaded by the broad support for this inalienable right among the American people. Nearly all the proposals offered at the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations­ infringe religious freedom. Whether it’s “Add the Words” in Idaho or “Fairness for All” in the U.S. Congress, these pieces of legislation (which Family Policy Alliance of Idaho® opposes) endanger our constitutionally protected right to live, work, and raise our families according to the dictates of our faith.

That’s why the work done by Family Policy Alliance of Idaho is so important. We are working to build a state and a nation where religious freedom thrives. Will you join us?

Standing for religious freedom,

Blaine Conzatti
Director of Advocacy