The ACLU and like-minded atheist groups and liberal media outlets are not preserving First Amendment rights; they are perverting the meaning of the establishment clause (which was to prevent the creation of a national church like the Church of England) to deny the free exercise clause (which preserves our rights to worship as we want, privately and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe its practice. The Framers were seeking to guarantee a freedom of religion, not a freedom from religion.
As Judge Roy Moore of Alabama reminded his readers, "the issue was addressed 150 years ago when the Senate Judiciary Committee, while considering the congressional chaplaincy, said, '(The founders) had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people; they did not intend to prohibit a just expression of religious devotion by the legislators of the nation, even in their public character as legislators; they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy.'"
Yet groups such as the ACLU, much of mainstream media and those New York atheists are spreading that "revolting spectacle of atheistical apathy" across our land, and in doing so, they are not only changing our laws but also revising our history.
If those groups existed during the Revolutionary era, they undoubtedly would have fought with our founders about whether to include any God language in the Declaration of Independence. They also would have ensured the prohibition (not the practice) of any religious expression and speech in any public arena -- something our founders secured in the First Amendment.
How grateful we can be this Independence Day week that those antagonists were not there.
The truth is that atheism was virtually nonexistent in those Revolutionary days. As Ben Franklin's 1787 pamphlet for those in Europe thinking of relocating to America highlighted, "serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other; by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favor the whole country."
This week, as with others, we all should celebrate not only our independence from Britain but also our dependence upon God.