Freedom of speech, religious freedom cut from same cloth

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Accused of being “the enemy of the people” and threatened with overturning long-established law assuring freedom to openly criticize American leadership, journalists might be forgiven for forgetting that the same First Amendment protects religious beliefs that may go against current political correctness.

Be assured people of many faiths in other countries are acutely aware of the lack of protection provided by the U.S. Constitution: “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.”

And, Article I-4 of the Nebraska Constitution recognizes that “All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.”

The Open Doors nonprofit organization announced its 2018 World Watch List with an annual ranking of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.

While Muslim countries dominate the list, that faith is actually among the persecuted for some of the top offenders, including No. 1 North Korea, where citizens are forced to worship the leader and his family, and China, farther down the list, which has been cracking down on religious activities of all types.

Persecution of Christians was judged to be worst, in order, in North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran.

Nationalism and radical Hinduism were judged to be new threats to religious freedom, according to the report, http://bit.ly/2AJgq9a .

Gov. Pete Ricketts joined Secretary of State Bob Evnen, state senators and students to declare Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, as Religious Freedom Day.

“With the arrival of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, religious freedom has been a key part of our heritage since the founding of our country,” Ricketts said. “Today, religious freedom remains a distinguishing characteristic of the American Republic. As Americans and Nebraskans, we have a solemn duty to protect and exercise our right to religious freedom. Around the world, many are persecuted for their beliefs and for worshipping God.”

“The free practice of religion not only allows us to worship in faith, but empowers us to love and serve our neighbor, particularly those most in need, as Jesus taught us: to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless and comfort the afflicted,” said Dr. Courtney Miller, Director of Clinical Services at Catholic Social Services. “While we celebrate and rejoice in these good deeds, it is important for us to remain watchful of threats to our religious liberty, such as discriminatory regulations or laws, that could restrict or shut down many of our services, which help countless vulnerable people in our state and country.”

Gov. Ricketts pointed to steps taken to support religious freedom in Nebraska, including signing LB62, which ended criminal penalties for public school teachers wearing religious garb.

More information on Religious Freedom Day can be found at www.Religious FreedomDay.com

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