Conscience, Thought and Speech
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
Communication, where would we be without it? I’m not necessarily talking about all the electronic gadgets that allow us to talk to anyone, anywhere in the world and have an answer back within seconds although the technology coming out of the past decade or so is incredible. I’m talking about communication throughout history. In the Bible, the first mention of communication is found in the Book of Genesis, chapter 1 verse 3, where it says, “Then God said…”
Every living creature has ways of communicating. Humans have been given the abilities to think, and to communicate. It is the ability to think, that gives people ideas, and turns ideas into expression. Juan Pablo Bonet was such a person, who helped develop one of the earliest and most successful finger alphabet and speech articulations for helping the deaf be able to sign and also read lips. His book, “Simplification of the letters of the alphabet and method of teaching deaf-mutes to speak” wasn’t published until over 200 years after his death, in 1885. Since then, millions have learned to sign and communicate with others. It’s the same as when Charles Barbier, a French artillery Captain came up with a system for soldiers to communicate at night. His system combined 12 dots to represent sounds which he called sonography, and it was after he brought the system to a school for the blind that a young student named Louis Braille took Barbier’s system and improved it, and since that time, blind people have been able to read and write.
No matter what culture, social status, race, or no matter what time in history, whatever one chooses to believe or not to believe in, everyone has their right to conscience and thought. Not all have been able to exercise their right to express their thoughts or their conscience through speech. History and experience tells us that people throughout the ages have had their rights restricted and oppressed from the Puritans and other Christian groups who escaped persecution in Europe, to political and social dissidents in places such as the former USSR, Communist China, and Cuba, who suffered and were murdered under tyrants like Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Fidel Castro.
In America it was the chance for freedom of religion and freedom to spread the Gospel that drew the earliest pilgrims. Later from the days before and during the Revolution, people were bravely petitioning the British Monarchy as George III was restricting their rights. The Colonists when gearing for war heard fiery speeches and sermons from the pulpits by those preachers known as the Black Robed Regiment, they were stirred and encouraged. These pastors mixed politics and the Bible, and often gave what was called Election Sermons. These same pastors would, after services, hold drills out in the church yard for local militias.
The Founding fathers knowing that the rights of conscience and speech are inherent, inalienable rights given by God and also knowing that past suppression of speech and religious beliefs were always in danger under tyrannical governments, they made sure that the rights of freedom of religion, speech, the press, to peaceably assemble and the right to redress government were embedded in our Bill of Rights, not to be infringed by government.
James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, once said, “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” He also said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”
George Washington knew the value as well of freedom to speak and the importance of keeping it when he said, “If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
After our Constitutional Republic was formed, the rights of the people remained strong for over 150 years. It wasn’t until as Senator Lyndon B Johnson’s House Resolution 235 in 1954 that people had free religious expression infringed upon. HR 235 was designed to revise the IRS code have restrictions placed on non-profit organizations and historians believe it was because of a fraudulent election of Johnson to the Senate in 1948. Nonpartisan historians have maintained that Johnson’s Senate election was won by massive voter fraud as “Landslide Lyndon,” won by only 87 votes. His challenger, Coke Stevenson, challenged his election with credible evidence that hundreds of votes for Johnson had been falsified but Johnson was able to use court injunctions to delay and eventually stop any challenges.
In 1954, Johnson was facing re-election to the Senate and was opposed by two non-profit anti-Communist groups that were attacking Johnson’s liberal agenda. Johnson inserted language into the IRS code that prohibited non-profits, including churches, from endorsing or opposing candidates for political office. Johnson used the power of Congress and the IRS to silence his opposition. Some in Johnson’s staff claimed that Johnson never intended to go after churches, only the two “nonprofits” in Texas, but because of his vindictive retaliation against political opposition, the amendment to the tax code has since affected every church and religious organization in the US.
It has taken only 60 years to see how over reaching the IRS and leftist groups have become by keeping Conservative groups and Christian churches and organizations either quiet out of fears of audits, losing their nonprofit status or by being targets of false investigations.
Within the past decade, and worse in the past 4 years, Christians, patriot groups, Conservatives and many Veterans and military supporters have been called names such as bitter clingers, terrorists, American Taliban, racist, xenophobes, wacko birds, tea baggers, Astroturf, hobbits, crackers and even SOB’s. Freedom of speech for me but not for thee seems to be the norm for progressives, who continue to use an ever expanding government to try and suppress and shut down speech of those they don’t agree with politically or religiously. They have used the IRS, they have used their power in Congress and the Senate to try and pass nefarious laws such as the Media Shield Act, which is meant to protect journalists, but has had debating on Capitol Hill on what constitutes a journalist. As with anything coming out of the Federal Government, everything depends on the language of the bills, often times being so vague that laws passed can be used against anyone those in power don’t agree with, just as what happened with Johnson. This could have a detrimental effect on bloggers and independent internet news sites.
Just as it is with a bill passed overwhelmingly, most of the language of H.R. 347 has been on the books since 2006. H.R. 347 is an amendment to an existing law, 18 USC § 1752 “restricted buildings and grounds,” that has existed in various forms since 1971. The most significant amendments to the law occurred in 2006. Yet as with anything the language is vague, and could essentially give the federal government, by way of the Secret Service to shut down protests, no matter how peaceful, the power to arrest people for assembling, especially for speaking out against any of our government.
Add to these passages of other such laws such as Hate Crimes legislation, and most recently terms of Obamacare requiring religious institutions and hospitals to provide insurance for or provide birth control and abortions to employees, we are seeing more and more of certain rights of conscience and thought and religious rights being taken.
People need to realize, that those who value freedom are critical of any party, not just one when it comes to our rights being taken or infringed. Many Conservatives, myself included, were angry when GW Bush signed the Patriot act for instance; we knew it could be used against American Citizens. We have a chance every two, four and six years to vote for Congress, President and Senate. Those who don’t see the writing on the wall while progressives hack away at our rights don’t understand that those of us who are trying to sound the alarm are not only trying to protect our own rights, but theirs as well.
Our Rights are inalienable. They are not to be taken by government or anyone, no matter what political side. They are God given. It’s time people start realizing where their rights come from, because it seems that those in our government, on both sides, believe they have the right to take them away.