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What President Bill Clinton Thought About Religious Freedom

With all the uproar from the Hobby Lobby decision to the religious freedom legislation in Indiana, it seems the Left has become very clear that they want restrictions on religious freedom.  That’s why it may be instructive to read President Bill Clinton’s remarks at the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the White House South Lawn on Nov. 16, 1993:

The free exercise of religion has been called the first freedom, that which originally sparked the development of the full range of the Bill of Rights. Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the First Amendment into the Bill of Rights at the head of the class is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. They knew that religion helps to give our people a character without which a democracy cannot survive. They knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between government and people of faith that otherwise government might usurp.

They have seen now, all of us, that religion and religious institutions have brought forth faith and discipline, community and responsibility over two centuries for ourselves and enabled us to live together in ways that I believe would not have been possible. We are, after all, the oldest democracy now in history and probably the most truly multi-ethnic society on the face of the Earth. And I am convinced that neither one of those things would be true today had it not been for the importance of the First Amendment and the fact that we have kept faith with it for 200 years.

What this law basically says is that the government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion. This judgment is shared by the people of the United States as well as by the Congress. We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m not sure that the USA is technically the world’s oldest democracy, The ancient Greeks had the first known democracy, but that doesn’t really count as the oldest surviving democracy as it didn’t continuously exist from then until now. The oldest continuous parliament based on democratic practices is that of the Isle of Man, an independent protectorate of the UK and that is over 1000 years old founded at around 1070 a.d.

    All modern democracies can trace their roots back to the 1215 Magna Carta signed by under duress by King John of England. Modern democracy which is also the root of American democracy as we know it began in 1707, with the unification of England and Scotland. At that time British government began to implement democratic processes in parliament, although many were excluded from the vote for social and economic reasons. British Democracy continued to evolve from that date onwards. Other countries also adopted the principles of democracy. US Democracy didn’t officially begin until the signing of the bill of rights in 1791, although they were working towards from their independence in 1776, with huge stepping stones towards democracy with the signing of the constitution in 1781, and even then it would years before everyone particularly slaves had equal voting rights.

    Anyway it’s fascinating to learn how we earned our freedoms and we should consider it a blessing that we live in a free society, and do what we can to protect it, and pray and support those around the world who do not enjoy life in a free society.

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