This Dec. 15 is the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments contain many of the rights we associate with being American — including freedom of speech and freedom of religion. These were written by James Madison in response to calls for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties.
While all the protections afforded are important and vital, many find special comfort in the First Amendment, which forbids Congress from passing laws that establish a specific religion or limiting Americans from practicing their own religion in whatever form that takes (with certain limitations).
Not establishing a government-mandated religion allows people to choose their own religion. Catholics are not forced to support Protestants, Jews are not forced to support Islam and atheists are not forced to support any of them.
In 1985, the Supreme Court said “…the court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.”
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We should all celebrate the Bill of Rights, not just on Dec. 15, but every day of the year.
Judy Adkins, Tampa