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Freedom in America: Our Cultural Heritage

From its earliest history, the United States has been identified as the land of freedom. In 1814, Francis Scott Key touted America as the land of the free and the home of the brave in his poem that later became America’s national anthem, but explaining American freedom has been problematic throughout our nation’s history. Freedom and liberty, although not synonymous, are very closely linked and many Americans differ in defining these terms as they apply to America’s brand of freedom and the liberties they think its citizens should possess.  Oddly, this battle has been waged long before America obtained its independence.

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Religious Freedom

In the entire later half of the 20th century, Christianity has been under attack in America. Some of these attacks have manifested themselves as restrictions on the display of the Ten Commandments in schools and other public places, erecting Christian crosses on public property in memory of lost loved ones, displaying nativity scenes during the Christmas season, or individual public expressions of Christianity such as school teachers giving a “glance at inspirational Bible verses between classes.”[1]

In each case of public displays of Christianity, the alleged law-breakers have the same things in common: they are not Congress, they are not making a law, they are not establishing a religion, and they are not restricting the free exercise of religion. To the contrary, they are all doing exactly what the First Amendment protects their right to do.

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