Many years ago, I noticed that most people didn’t understand the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and many only have a vague notion of “free speech,” or “separation of church and state.”
I have even encountered highly educated and highly regarded “experts” who incorrectly state that “there are five clauses in the First Amendment’”.
I founded The First Amendment, Inc., as an organization that educates Americans about the nature of our valuable freedoms.
Centrally being that:
- The author of our freedom is God, not our fellow man; so the founders did not “give” us freedom – they protected the freedom we already received, as a gift from God;
- Freedom is a “use it or lose it” proposition; and to use it, we must understand it;
- The founders declared government’s purpose is protecting and upholding rights; not granting or denying them.
The First Amendment is expressed in six clauses that are really three sets of two clauses each.
1) Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
2) or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
These first two clauses cover religion and faith, or what we can think, feel, or believe. They are two separate and distinct clauses; not one clause, as has been incorrectly taught in recent decades. These first two clauses encompass our God given right to believe in and communicate with our creator, or to exercise our free will to decline to do so – all without government force.
3) or abridging the freedom of speech,
4) or of the press;
The second two clauses speak to individual speech and corporate or institutional speech. After we communicate with God (or not), we can freely communicate with each other. We may do this individually, or corporately.
5) or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
6) and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The last two clauses deal with things that a citizen may want to do, after listening to God, and after learning from his fellow man (the four previous clauses concerning faith and speech).
We may assemble with anyone for any legal purpose – not only an assembly at the courthouse steps. We may “assemble” with others to form a business, school, church, club, etc. And, believe it or not, a group of doctors are free to assemble into a practice, and a citizen is free to associate with them or not as a patient – no matter what the “Obama-Scam” health regulations say.
Another action a citizen is free to take, where we are governed by our consent, is to petition our government if we have a grievance, or lobby them in advance to prevent a grievance.
This beautiful concept of God-given freedom makes the life we cherish in America possible.
Craig Johnson, aka Reverend Craig, is a news and political analyst, commentator and talk radio host of The REALLY, Real, Deal with Reverend Craig the Hatchet Man, on Virginia’s WNTW 820AM and 97.7FM, stream at www.820theanswer.com. Reverend Craig is also founder and president of The First Amendment, Inc.