Archive for November 18, 2021

The right of conscience is one of our most fundamental God-given natural rights, so fundamental that it is one of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.  The framers and ratifyers of Bill of Rights universally understood the right conscience to be an integral component of the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment. 

For more than a century prior to the drafting of the Bill Rights, the right of conscience was considered to be one of our most important rights.  This is abundantly clear from this quotation from A Letter concerning Toleration by John Locke, which also provides a very detailed definition of the right of conscience. 

Now that the whole jurisdiction of the magistrate reaches only to these civil concernments, and that all civil power, right, and dominion, is bounded and confined to the only care of promoting these things; and that it neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the salvation of souls, these following considerations seem unto me abundantly to demonstrate.

First. Because the care of souls is not committed to the civil magistrate, any more than to other men. It is not committed unto him, I say, by God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such authority to one man over another, as to compel any one to his religion. Nor can any such power be vested in the magistrate by the consent of the people, because no man can so far abandon the care of his own salvation as blindly to leave to the choice of any other, whether prince or subject, to prescribe to him what faith or worship he shall embrace. For no man can, if he would, conform his faith to the dictates of another. All the life and power of true religion consist in the inward and full persuasion of the mind; and faith is not faith without believing. Whatever profession we make, to whatever outward worship we conform, if we are not fully satisfied in our own mind that the one is true, and the other well pleasing unto God, such profession and such practice, far from being any furtherance, are indeed great obstacles to our salvation. For in this manner, instead of expiating other sins by the exercise of religion, I say, in offering thus unto God Almighty such a worship as we esteem to be displeasing unto him, we add unto the number of our other sins those also of hypocrisy, and contempt of his Divine Majesty.

In the second place. The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force. Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, torments, nothing of that nature can have any such efficacy as to make men change the inward judgment that they have framed of things.

No author influenced the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights more than John Locke.  He wrote this letter in 1689.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason in 1776, was a primary model for the Bill of Rights.  As you can see from this quote, the right of conscience was an integral component of free exercise of religion

That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.

Many states agreed to ratify the Constitution only if a Bill of Rights was included. Each of the states proposed very similar amendments.  The next quote is from Virginia Ratifying Convention.  All of these ideas were incorporated in the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment.

Twentieth, That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others.

This next quote is from the Transcripts of the debates from the House of Representatives during the drafting of the Bill of Rights.   This particular debate took place on August 15, 1789.  From this quote it is self evident that the right of conscience is an integral component of the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment.

The House again went into a Committee of the Whole on the proposed amendments to the constitution, Mr. Boudinot in the Chair.The fourth proposition being under consideration, as follows:

Article 1. Section 9. Between paragraphs two and three insert “no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.”

Mr. Sylvester had some doubts of the propriety of the mode of expression used in this paragraph. He apprehended that it was liable to a construction different from what had been made by the committee. He feared it might be thought to have a tendency to abolish religion altogether.

Mr. Vining suggested the propriety of transposing the two members of the sentence.

Mr. Gerry said it would read better if it was, that no religious doctrine shall be established by law.

Mr. Sherman thought the amendment altogether unnecessary, inasmuch as Congress had no authority whatever delegated to them by the Constitution to make religious establishments; he would, therefore, move to have it struck out.

Mr. [Daniel] Carroll As the rights of conscience are, in their nature, of peculiar delicacy, and will little bear the gentlest touch of governmental hand; and as many sects have concurred in opinion that they are not well secured under the present constitution, he said he was much in favor of adopting the words. He thought it would tend more towards conciliating the minds of the people to the Government than almost any other amendment he had heard proposed. He would not contend with gentlemen about the phraseology, his object was to secure the substance in such a manner as to satisfy the wishes of the honest part of the community.

Mr. Madison said, he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience. Whether the words are necessary or not, he did not mean to say, but they had been required by some of the State Conventions, who seemed to entertain an opinion that under the clause of the Constitution, which gave power to Congress to make all laws necessary and proper to carry into execution the Constitution, and the laws made under it, enabled them to make laws of such a nature as might infringe the rights of conscience and establish a national religion; to prevent these effects he presumed the amendment was intended, and he thought it as well expressed as the nature of the language would admit.

The Bill of Rights does not restrain the state governments in any way.  The constitution of each state contains a Bill of Rights which protects the rights of the people living in that state from abuses of the state governments.  Here is Article II of the Massachusetts Constitution, which protects the right of conscience of everyone in this state

It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.

As you can see from all of the quotes I’ve provided, the right of conscience of every single individual is an absolute right.  All that matters is the conscience of each and every individual.  Like all rights, the permission of the government is not needed for each individual to exercise their right of conscience.  If government permission was needed it would not be a right.  Any restrictions placed on the right of conscience is an infringement of the right of conscience because it is a fundamental right.

The right of conscience is not a collective right, assigned by the government collectively to those who belong only to a certain church or religion. That would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. It is an individual right, based solely on the conscience of each individual, government approval in neither needed or warranted.

The federal government is trampling on the right of conscience of every individual with Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate because extreme restrictions are placed on this right,  States are doing the same.  Written permission from states and the federal government is needed for those seeking religious exemptions from vaccine mandates.  That is most definitely an infringement of the right of conscience of everyone. 

In many ways, you are already in the authoritarian state. You just don’t know it 

Ai Weiwei 

One of the bits of history concerning the baseball’s “gentlemen’s agreement” that excluded blacks from the game is that this wasn’t always the case. In the early days of professional baseball when Cap Anson (one of the biggest names and admittedly one of the if not THE greatest player of the 19th century) first threatened to pull his team from the field when facing another team that had a black player on the roster he ended up backing down because the home team told him bluntly that he pulled his team he and his players would not only forfeit but would not get paid. It wasn’t until teams intimidated by Anson’s fame and worried about blowback kowtowed to his demands and such kowtowing became habit that segregation in the game became the unofficial rule. If teams had told him to get stuffed consistently and not be intimated by him and his fame then one of the biggest disgraces of the game would not have taken root and Jackie Robinson would have likely played 20 years because he wouldn’t have had to carry the weight of a race on his shoulders.

Likewise in the Catholic Church if when the first signs of the abuse scandal started turning up in the 70’s if Bishops had swiftly defrocked those priests involved and turned them into law enforcement and made it clear this would be the cost of such behavior the scandal that blew up 20 years ago and is causing harm to the church both culturally and in its mission to the people would have not taken place. Instead fear of expose, loss of revenue, and a misguided conflation of forgiveness of sins (always the policy of the church) with tolerating and hiding criminal behavior (not the policy of the church) that led to this type of behavior multiplying to the point where twenty years later the church and the perception of it to the public is still reeling from the scandal’s effects.

In both of these cases there were no consequences for bad behavior and because the people involved did not have the courage to impose consequences for bad behavior it went on till it reached a breaking point.

And that brings us to the Riots of last year and the Ritenhouse Trial.

For many years we refused to fight the culture wars and allowed the radical left free reign in our institutions. Political leaders didn’t want to rock the boat content in their power so that when the idea of collective guilt for actions of people 100’s of years ago was advanced people did not slap it down as the nonsense that it was.

From there came the idea of the permanently oppressed being that if one’s ancestor was oppressed two or three or ten generations ago it meant that one was permanently and generationally oppressed meaning that one’s failures in life were not the responsible of the individual but were due to collective oppression applied to ancestors (even if such oppression and all those advancing it were long dead).

Collective “innocence” was soon to follow whereby rioting, crime, looting and arson were advanced as legitimate expressions of grievance and that any move to stop such actions were considered a form of oppression.

At each of these stages the unreality of the situation was advanced and that any object to this nonsense was pained as a sign of evil intent and equated one with all the evils of centuries ago.

At each of these stages the lack of courage as a society allowed this to progress aided by the dollars of our enemies who found it cheaper to buy people rather than weapons and by those who found that advancing a false narrative paid well.

From there it was not hard to decide it’s easier to let an election be stolen than to face critique for daring to speak out about what’s happening in front of your face.

Now we have actually reached the point where judging the innocence or guilt of a person accused of murder can not be judged by the evidence or the testimony or the clear video of same but must be judged by the fear of violence and intimidation of those who must make this decision.

And because we have a media that has pushed a narrative rather than the truth. (That is how leftists who normally live in a bubble are shocked and surprised when they actually view the trail and discover that basic face from the races of those involved to their criminal records are something these supposedly informed people did not know). It’s no coincidence that CNN & MSNBC cut away from the trial when the defense was making it closing arguments for fear it’s viewer might learn something or their paymasters might be offended.

As in all these previous cases courage is required, courage by the judge, courage by the jury and courage by the people, because if it’s established that the verdict of someone unfavored by the woke will be decided not on fact and evidence but on the threat of violence and rioting by the left supported and financed by their political allies then all bets are off and we as a nation will be, to paraphrase Benito from Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Inferno: it will be very cold, and very dark, and we will be there for all knowing we as a nation u put yourself there.