Updated: Aug 31
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution States:
"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."
Did you know there are six rights established within the First Amendment?
The right to be free from governmental establishment of religion. (This is the "Establishment Clause") This right prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another.
The right to be free from governmental interference with the practice of religion (This means the government cannot interfere with your religious practices) (This is the free exercise clause.)
The right to free speech. (This also includes the right not to speak.
The right to the freedom of the press. (This gives you the right to report news or communicate opinions without censorship from the government.)
The right to assemble peacefully. (This means the government cannot prevent citizens from peacefully gathering or meeting in a public place.)
The right to petition the government for redress of grievances. (This means you may petition the government to right a wrong such as an ("undesirable or unfair situation."Oxford dictionary) In America, this often results in monetary compensation.
You may ask yourself, Why do I need to know these rights? USAtoday answered this question best, "It protects our right to express our deepest beliefs in word and action." However, it does nothing for us if we do not know what our rights are.
The First Amendment only protects your freedom of speech from federal, state, and local government actors- meaning it protects you from a person who is acting on behalf of a government body. This includes public schools, officers, courts, etc. What this does not include is private businesses, organizations, and citizens.
Media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can refuse to publish opinions it disagrees with.
Public schools can suspend students for speaking against policy.
Private companies can fire an employee for communicating their political or religious views on the job.
It is a crime to threaten an offense involving bodily harm, death, or property damage with the intent to place an individual in impending fear. It is also against the law in America to make a verbal or written statement indicating a wish to cause someone physical harm.
All of the above fall under the First Amendment.
I did not write nor base this blog post on personal or ministerial opinions. The First Amendment is the law. I do, however, feel it is imperative we know and understand our rights as Christians living in a time where many believe their religious freedom is under attack in this 21st-century America.
Remember, knowledge is power.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge"