Do you ever get the impression that the Religious Right is just making up "controversies" that they can pretend to get upset about? Or do you get the impression that they just don't even bother to do so much as a minute of research before voicing their outrage about some nonexistent threat?
Behold the latest such incident, courtesy of the Family Research Council:
Can one word change the world? President Obama certainly hopes so. Since last year's speech in Cairo, one phrase is subtly worming its way into speeches with high level White House officials. With incredible precision, the President is abandoning the term "freedom of religion" in favor of what he calls the "freedom of worship." Now to most people, that rhetoric is nothing to write home about. But to those of us standing guard for our faith in Washington, the shift is ominous. As Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom said, "[Freedom of worship] excludes the right to raise your children in your faith; the right to have religious literature; the right to meet with co-religionists; the right to raise funds; the right to appoint your religious leaders, and to carry out charitable activities, to evangelize," and perhaps the most troubling, to engage in the public square.
This is the culmination of a 40-year process to expel God from America. First it was taking prayer and the Bible from public schools; then it was driving out the 10 Commandments from courthouses and nativities from town squares. Now religion would be squeezed out of every pocket of society until it exists only within the four walls of the church. This is more than semantics; it's a bold leap forward to completely secularize America. We've already witnessed what the courts and culture have done to alienate faith. President Obama's vision is to codify those decisions in policy--making it virtually impossible for men and women to exercise their religion in public. And that includes any church outreach like homeless shelters or orphanages. If we pursue this to its logical conclusion, America would eventually shut out or constrict anything having to do with Christ. President Obama says plenty of things he doesn't mean. But in this, his pursuit of wiping religion off the map, we should take him at his word.
Really? This is what it has come to? President Obama doesn't use the phrase "freedom of religion" and it is proof that he is out to "completely secularize America"? Even by the Religious Right's standard, this is laughably pathetic.
Hey, take a look at this procilmation that President Obama issued just four days ago:
The journey towards worldwide freedom and democracy sought in 1959 remains unfinished. Today, we still observe the profound differences between governments that reflect the will of their people, and those that sustain power by force; between nations striving for equal justice and rule of law, and those that deny their citizens freedom of religion, expression, and peaceful assembly; and between states that are open and accountable, and those that restrict the flow of ideas and information. The United States has a special responsibility to bear witness to those whose voices are silenced, and to stand alongside those who yearn to exercise their universal human rights.
Interestingly, a search of the George W. Bush White House website archive also returns exactly 124 mentions of "freedom of religion" versus 33 uses of "freedom of worship."
Do you remember the Religious Right freaking out when Bush used the phrase several times in proclaiming Religious Freedom Day 2008? Me neither:
Thomas Jefferson counted the freedom of worship as one of America's greatest blessings. He said it was "a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government, and yet proved by our experience to be its best support." On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
The freedom to worship according to one's conscience is one of our Nation's most cherished values. It is the first protection offered in the Bill of Rights: that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In America, people of different faiths can live together united in peace, tolerance, and humility. We are committed to the proposition that as equal citizens of the United States of America, all are free to worship as they choose.
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