Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: Liberals take aim at freedom of speech and religion

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Editorial,Constitutionality,First Amendment,Freedom of Speech,Conservatism,Liberalism,Religion

Two events last week point to a disturbing development: Liberals are conducting a thinly veiled war on the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and political speech. The liberal objective is to silence the voices of conservatives and evangelicals in American public life. If the campaign is successful, liberals in power will be able to work their will unfettered by such bulwarks of limited government as individual conscience, checks and balances, and democratic compromise.

First, the liberal Guardian newspaper published dozens of confidential funding proposals submitted to the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market think tanks, by a number of conservative political advocacy groups. The Guardian did so in conjunction with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald. They published the documents ostensibly “to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the U.S., and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities. Details of the coordinated approach come amid growing federal scrutiny of the political activities of tax-exempt charities.”

The liberal objective is to silence conservatives and evangelicals from American public life.

In fact, the Guardian is conflating “political activities” such as voting and partisan campaigning with political advocacy such as analyses of legislative proposals, publishing books and web posts. The latter are perfectly legal for all of the groups that submitted the proposals published by the Guardian, yet the mention of federal scrutiny implies otherwise. This federal scrutiny, of course, is the Obama administration’s use of the IRS to harass conservative, Tea Party and evangelical political advocacy groups.

Second, as the Washington Examiner's Joel Gehrke reported, the Center for American Progress - a liberal political advocacy group - hosted a discussion panel that included the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, who is president of the Interfaith Alliance. Gaddy said “people are using the term ‘liberty' when they really mean ‘my liberty, your slavery.'” His statement is of a piece with the view of liberals who believe that Christians practicing their faith cannot do so without oppressing somebody else.

This is analogous to the medieval monarchs and bishops who burned Protestant dissenters who insisted, for example, on their right to read the Bible and reach their own conclusions about its meaning for them, government and society. It was precisely such tyranny that led to the First Amendment’s prohibition of any law abridging freedom of speech or impeding unfettered practice of religion.

Liberals like Gaddy can’t light human bonfires today. But they are eager and quite capable of using the power of government to impose their views on everybody else, even if it means thumbing their noses at the First Amendment. Saying people can practice their faith in private but not in public creates two classes of citizens, those who can speak their minds in the public square and those who can't. So let’s hear no more liberal lectures about “tolerance.”

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