Freedom of religion, Christianity go together

Posted: Aug 25, 2007 8:50 PM
Freedom of religion, Christianity go together

A few years ago, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "God" has no place in the Pledge of Allegiance. More recently, anti-Christian activists have made significant headway in their effort to take Christ out of Christmas, even convincing people to replace the Christmas tree with the religion-neutral "holiday tree."

Closer to home, in Canyon County, a vocal handful of people even protested a little tiny cross on the county seal, even though the seal provides an accurate illustration that is entirely representative of the community. Opponents of Christianity and faith in general are working overtime to sell their incorrect notion that our sacred freedom of religion means our country is supposed to be free from religion.

Some people say it is wrong for me to speak in defense of the importance of Christianity's role in our country's founding and it continuing significance to the life of our nation. They think it is wrong for me to say that Christian values and Christian principles have guided America from its inception and will continue to serve our country in the future.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to the freedom to express it. But I am not embarrassed by my conviction that Christian beliefs have been essential to our country's well-being, and those of you who agree with me have no reason to be ashamed, either.

I'm also a disappointed that my comments in support of Christianity and religious freedom have been taken out of context as insulting people of other faiths. People on my staff have diverse faiths, as do people throughout Idaho.

It is sad when desperate politicians pull statements out of context to score political points and degrade public discourse by doing so. I have taken a solemn oath to defend the rights of my constituents of all faiths so that they will remain free to practice their respective religions in this country.

But by my oath I did not give up my freedom of speech that allows me to express my belief in the importance of Christian faith to our nation's heritage and future. I believe very strongly that Christianity has made and continues to make our country strong and that the God of the Bible has blessed our country and offers us His divine protection. Others may argue just as strenuously that their particular religion - be it Hinduism or Buddhism, Islam or Vodooism - makes this country great, and they are free to do so. I won't agree with that assessment, but I will defend their right to practice their faith and share their opinion publicly. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are pillars of our constitutional government.

None of this distracts me from working to reform Congress and get our government back to basics: Low taxes, a powerful national defense, a limited role for Uncle Sam in the lives of our fellow citizens and a well-functioning immigration policy. Reforming Congress will go along way toward getting our nation back on track. But no amount of reform will help unless we remember and adhere to the principles that started our country and made it great. Those principles - human dignity, justice and liberty - are rooted in Judeo-Christian teaching. To disregard that teaching is to undermine the very foundations of our liberty, which we only do to our great peril.