What does “Religious Freedom” mean? Obviously it will mean different things to different people, and that is where the problem that the United States faces lies. Individual interpretations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are creating a firestorm of opinions on what it means to have Freedom of Religion in the United States. Many people think that this freedom only applies to an individual’s right to go to the house of worship that they want to go to. Others believe that the Right extends to how someone interacts with other people, and the belief that we should all be open to a person’s beliefs, even if they clash with our own. Freedom of Religion in the United States is all of this, and so much more.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution intentionally left it open to interpretation, and that is why it has survived as the basis for the entire legal system in the United States for over 200 years. But the Constitution was never meant to be interpreted by so many people at once, with each person taking their own interpretation as the truth. The Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government are meant to enforce the Constitution and interpret it, respectively. But at this time, the Executive Branch is swayed in its enforcement by popular opinion, and that translates to an interpretation of the Constitution and the First Amendment that is driven by the public mood. And right now, that public mood is against Religious Freedom in all its forms.
The people of the United States, as a majority, do not want to see a business free to practice the owner’s religious beliefs. They do not want to see Christian symbols on public offices and graves. They do not, in short, want Religion in the United States of America – a nation founded on religion and freedom of religion for all. But as we enter into an election cycle, it may come to pass that over the next few years things will shift back toward Religious Freedom in the U.S., and people will once again want to participate in something that has made America stand apart from the other nations of the world, namely, Freedom of Religion.