Alexander Anderson California

Freedom of Religion

This is an address to the importance in keeping and following the First Amendment. Recent actions against Christians and churches around the country are affecting many citizens right of free speech and the practice of religion .

Dear Mr. or Madame President,

Two hundred forty years ago, our forefathers brought forth our great nation’s independence, from the iron fist of the English Empire. Our ancestors fought for their rights and honor that we had longed to have, since the establishment of the colonies in the new world. They created the Constitution and Bill of Rights, so that we would have established rules and rights to live by, thus giving our people the opportunity they came to this great land to achieve,. A land where we have freedom to believe or not believe, and to have the freedom to say what we want without punishment. America, a land of opportunity for the hard working and less fortunate, and a land where we can preserve our inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America, a land created so we can have a democracy rather than a monarchy. Recently, in the past few years, our freedom has been tampered with. Our First Amendment rights have been ignored, and the powers bestowed upon the Presidency have been abused.

In our country today, many people come from different races, beliefs, and other walks of life. The founding fathers of this country were the same way. They believed and knew that the best way to protect religious freedom is not to have our government be involved. In light of this, they added the very first amendment to the Bill of Rights. In the First Amendment it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”This means the government is not allowed to make laws that interfere with the practicing of religion. Along with the first amendment, a Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment was written, “The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment gives you the right to worship or not as you choose. The government can't penalize you because of your religious beliefs.” Which means, they can not punish you for what you believe in. The ACLU states that our freedom to believe or not to believe can not even be taken away by the “Majority Rule.” Unfortunately, the government has been ignoring these laws. In recent cases, over the past couple of years, it has seemed like religious freedom has been thrown out the window,often times, pressuring people to give up their religious beliefs and following what the government wants.

In 2012-13, an Oregonian couple Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The Kleins had denied the lesbian couple service due to the fact they were Christians and did not believe in gay marriage. Constitutionally, they did nothing wrong, but that’s not what the lesbian couple believed. The lesbian couple began to pummel the bakery through the media. They did so with LGBTQ activists riots and boycotts. The Kleins also received death threats to their small children due to their choice in faith. Then, when things just seemed like they couldn't get any worse, on January 29, 2013, an Oregon judge, and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, ruled that they discriminated against the couple. Yet, they were only following their long held religious beliefs. Many wondered why the lesbian couple couldn’t just find another bakery that supported them and not made such a huge deal about it. Now the couple has had to close down their bakery, and had to move due to the death threats to their young children, as well as having had to file bankruptcy. It's like Aaron Klein said to NBC news reporter, “ they're trying to push us into the closet for being Christian.”

Around the nation, churches are having to close down because of the lack of insurance. Many insurance companies are withdrawing services to churches because of being afraid churches will be sued because they will not marry LGBTQ couples. In the Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, churches will now start to lose their coverage from fear of the insurance companies. The idea of marriage came from religious beliefs such as Christianity, where it is a union of a man and a women, making a covenant with GOD, that they will be together. If the LGBTQ don't believe the ways of christianity, why do they want to get married in our churches. Why do they need to come to a holy place, and want to make us change our beliefs, just to make them happy. Now, churches all over America, are being sued or shut down for what they believe and hold dear.

Mr. or Madame President, I ask you now to look at this situation. My christian faith is being stolen away from me. My freedom of religion is being tossed out the window, when it is supposed to be protected. I see that it may look like as if we are discriminating against the LGBTQ community by not baking them a cake to have at their wedding, or not letting them get married in our churches, but we are just practicing our religious freedom. As it states, we should not be penalized for having and practicing our faith. If they really wanted a cake, they could easily find another bakery that would love their business. They also don't need to be in a church to get married. Especially, when marriage, by definition is a religious ceremony between a man and a women. I wouldn’t go to a synagogue an ask a Rabbi to marry me, when I wanted to get married because then I would be trespassing on other religions ceremony. I would go to my christian church and ask my pastor to do it. Also the LGBTQ community also have the option to just do it at a courthouse or have a judge marry them. I ask to you now to do what is right. Give us, the American people, the rights our men and women have stood up and died for.

Thank you,

Alexander A., Yreka High School

Yreka High School

English IV

12th grade students at Yreka High School.

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