Our Second-Class Civil Right

Our Second-Class Civil Right

The US Commission on Civil Rights claims that the right to religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment must take a back seat to the right to “nondiscrimination”—found nowhere in the Constitution. Dwight Duncan points out that this makes the freedom of religion a second-class right, even though it was the very first right recorded by our Founding Fathers in the Bill of Rights.

As early as the 1840s, Abraham Lincoln had occasion to join his voice to the cause of religious freedom when the nativism of the Know-Nothings was exhibiting a certain anti-Catholic strain: “The guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant, and…all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, either directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition.”

And for those who aren’t religious and don’t care, keep in mind that if they can abrogate religious freedom so easily, which other rights can they make go away? Free speech and free press? Due process? As long as they can show that it’s in the service of nondiscrimination, right?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli