This week, Sean Spicer, former Press Secretary for President Donald Trump, wrote an opinion column for National Review about the Democratic Party’s ongoing assault on American religious liberty.
Spicer recalls the recent history of religious freedom in America, citing the proclamation in January 1993 by President George W. Bush on the first Religious Freedom Day. That event marked the anniversary of the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. Thomas Jefferson wrote that statute, which served as a model for the language of the First Amendment that followed.
Every president since has issued a Religious Freedom Day Proclamation on January 16. President Clinton said in 1999 that a “democracy cannot survive” without religious freedom. President George W. Bush said in 2009 that freedom of religion is one of America’s “greatest blessings.”
The first significant change in the proclamation ceremony came in 2013 when President Obama said that a primary freedom Americans “hold sacred is the freedom to worship as we choose.” After that, many progressives and leftists have used the phrase “freedom of worship” in place of the “free exercise of religion,” as set out in the First Amendment.
The slight change in wording may not seem important, but there is a significant difference between “freedom of worship” and the language of the First Amendment. Radical leftists understand the difference, and it is undoubtedly crucial to them.
Leftists are willing, for the moment, to grant Americans the freedom to worship how they please at home or in their church of choice. However, the religion of Americans must not be allowed to leak into “public life” or the world of commerce. Democrats will let Americans worship for the time being, as long as no one else can see or hear about it.
As the business world touches all parts of life, free religion suddenly becomes excluded from day-to-day living. Christians must not refuse to pay for abortions of employees. Christian businesses cannot refuse to work with customers who demand they violate their faith and conscience. The conscience of the state becomes all that matters in public life.
Americans will do well to become aware of the language that progressives use to erode fundamental American freedoms and our traditional way of life.