I apologize to all you folks out there in radio land who thought we were giving away books, gold mining claims, trips to Iceland, or sure-fire ways to stop getting fatter. It seems I’ve let our coffee time degenerate into a civics lesson. I got so carried away with July 4th falling in the middle of the week—I decided to have a week of celebration of our independence. In case you’ve just awakened from a five-day snooze, we’re continuing to review the meanings of some of the concepts we may take for granted.
Definitions are critical.
Doris is correct in saying that she has the same value before God as anyone else. She goes on to say she has the same rights according to the Constitution. Yes, according to the Constitution, plus additional rights bestowed on her for having a PhD, for example. To begin, we define rights as “something to which one has a just claim” or “the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled” or “something one may claim as properly due.”
To my mind, the definition of obscenity is too loose to adequately protect us from the daily coarsening of our society. On the other side, political correctness has run amuck to prevent prayer in schools or public meetings. Certain words spoken in certain quarters can get you or me arrested for violation of hate speech laws. Obviously, we will not settle the argument here regarding proper limits on the right of freedom of speech.
These examples show that we should possess “power” or “privilege” relating to those “inalienable rights.” Our claims of particular rights may not square with reality, as government can, and often does, violate our God-given rights. The state, more than any other entity, has throughout history oppressed the free expression of religion.
Today, we see the current administration pushing for passage of non-discrimination laws (which may be good in themselves) which do not contain hiring protections for religious groups. Thus, a para-church organization may be required to hire people who violate the religious tenets of the organization. You or I may bitterly oppose abortion but we as taxpayers indirectly fund pro-abortion groups that promote or perform abortions. It appears that the new health care law will require all employers, regardless of religious beliefs, will be required to provide coverage to their workers for contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients.
Such violation doesn’t remove our rights; it just prevents us from exercising them. Put another way, we can say that it’s dangerous to confuse “rights” with “realities.”