Why people need to relook at the First Amendment

Many people do not actually pay attention to what the First Amendment says. While some interpretations evolved, there are those that wish for the original meaning to come back. Few people fully understand the full impact of the amendment, because it has become too politicized. Part of the way that the interpretation changed was because the Fourteenth Amendment was seen as a way for the federal government to delve into the business of the state governments. These freedoms are important to all sides of political debates, which is a cornerstone of a republic.

What the First Amendment says

People do not always remember the full text.

“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.”

What was meant at first

Originally, the First Amendment was to tell the US Congress that it could not interfere in religion. The people who were instrumental in this were known as the Anti-Federalists. The folks that were involved wanted states rights to be paramount. They also did not want what occurred before the Revolutionary War to happen again in the nation. They did not want a new Church of England, nor did they want the government interfering in how people worshipped. Speech had always been limited by the British, especially when disagreements arose. People also had been punished for assembling in any group that was not pro-British. The Parliament had not entertained any petitions from the colonies and Congress did not need to act like this. This was only limiting to the federal government, not the states or local municipalities.

Freedom of Religion

One of the things that people get wrong is that they say freedom from instead of freedom of. The phasing that many people use now is from a letter that Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Convention. Hey were worried that people would not be allowed to worship as they wished. Instead, Jefferson said that was not the case. As a matter of a fact, most states had within their constitutions that the people elected from their state in any role had to be Christian. Many did not state if it had to be a specific version of Christianity, just that the person had to be devout. Municipalities and states are free, under the original meaning of the Constitution, to pray, put up religious statues, and use religion as a qualifier for someone to hold office.

Now, the federal courts interpret that the First can be used to stop any showing of Christianity. While Islam is being allowed in schools, groups such as the ACLU are fighting any show of Christianity. The federal courts are agreeing to these lawsuits. The reason is because of an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The oddity comes in when groups like CAIR fight to protect any use of Sharia Law. It is becoming confusing to people or just causing another divide within the nation.

Freedom of the Press

The press has always had political bias. Any newspaper that has ever given an endorsement shows bias. At the same time, these paper investigate many things people may not know is happening. Watergate, Uranium One, and many other scandals were brought to the public because of the press. They may have bias, but as long as they report the truth, they have shown they do need protections. No matter what political party is in power, there will always be those who abuse that power. People still need to research to figure out if the press has crossed lines, as well.

Freedom to assemble

The British had stopped people from assembling when they wanted to protest the government. The US has its permit process, but for the most part people are allowed to peacefully gather. Riots and violent acts do not fall under this freedom. At the same time, there are many instances where government on all levels has tried to disrupt these gatherings. It is something that needs to be addressed all the time.

Freedom to petition

The British treated the colonies as less than citizens. That happened in many of the colonies of the British Empire. That is something the Anti-Federalists wanted changed within the American government. The ability to address grievances with the government has changed. To that point, many times people do not feel like they are being listened to, just as when the British ran the nation. There will be more upheaval until this is made better.

The First Amendment is not paid attention to, except to claim someone is hindering theirs. It is time that people start studying it. The knowledge of this amendment is just the beginning of being free.

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