Tolerance or Freedom

January 30

In 1776, at the Fifth Virginia Convention in Williamsburg, George Mason of Virginia began drafting 10 articles outlining a “Declaration of Rights” emphasizing that these rights were the “basis and foundation of good government.”

These original 10 article were later expanded to 16 and finally passed into law on June 12, 1776.

An interesting story that teaches us much today came from a brief exchange between George Mason and James Madison. Mr. Mason, in drafting his thoughts on Freedom of Religion initially used the phrase “religious tolerance” in the first draft. James Madison, with his keen understanding, approached Mr. Mason and suggested that the phrase “religious tolerance” be replaced with “religious liberty.” Madison pointed out that “tolerance” gave the impression that the state could give and take away the basic right to exercise of religion.

Madison, who was a star pupil of Princeton Professor, Rev. John Witherspoon, had been well educated by the great teacher in the differences between “alienable” and “inalienable” rights. Madison clearly saw the danger in leaving the inalienable right of religion to the tolerance of government.

The current political conversation that’s driven by the LGBTQ movement, demands “gender identity” receive special protection in the law. This would mean everyone, teachers, students, employers, employees, and business-owners would have to “affirm” the transgender agenda or risk government persecution. Some in the LGBTQ movement say these special protections will exempt faith-based organizations. One popular example of this movement at the national level is a federal bill entitled “Fairness for All.” Radicals insist that it is the “middle ground,” a logical compromise.

There are several problems with this thinking. It reverses the historic American understanding of Religious Liberty and moves us into the path of government “toleration” of an inalienable right. It also places a fundamental disagreement about what a human being “is” directly into law.

In a day in which the most basic right to life for every citizen has been decimated to the point where an estimated 61 million lives have been legally extinguished, every American who holds their rights as sacred should see the danger inherent in “Fairness for All” and other legislation like it.

We in Wyoming must be prepared to guard against these efforts. “Fairness for All” started with our western neighbor, Utah, where it was sold as a compromise bill—”advancing the LGBT agenda and protecting religious freedom”. In reality, the Utah compromise has only served to trample on the rights of Americans to freely exercise their faith. Now, federal legislation is being promoted in Washington, D.C based upon the Utah bill.

Thankfully, many see the danger in the legislation and its federal introduction has been muted. But we must still always be alert for efforts to introduce it into Wyoming.

The purpose of Family Policy Alliance® is to see the danger and protect our families. Will you stand with us?


Nathan Winters
Director of Advocacy