Right On: The left’s attacks on religious freedom

Stock images, St. George News

OPINION — Our country owes a debt of gratitude to all those who worked to overcome the scourge of segregation.

Idealistic civil rights workers literally risked their lives to help bring the ideals of equality into fruition.

But their success morphed into something far more insidious as left liberals in the Democratic Party saw opportunity to turn this idealism into a political organizing principle.

A recent New York Times editorial pointed out that the Democratic Party organizes around group grievances; writer Mark Lilla wrote, “Group identity is a doctrine and group grievances are to be nurtured and exploited politically no matter the damage to civil discourse.”

This damage to civil discourse has grown into liberal attacks on the morals and values of large segments of the population who are freely exercising their religions.

The first words in the First Amendment to our Constitution guarantee freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

But these simple words are not so simple. Pardon the expression, but the devil is in the details. What does establishment mean? How free is free exercise?

These are difficult questions that have ended up in court as our society has changed.

First, take a look at claims that government has established religion in violation of the First Amendment. The United States has always been and still is largely a nation of believers. Our Declaration of Independence speaks of “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” “Supreme Judge” and “Divine Providence.”

Presidents from Washington to Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt often invoked deity in their speeches. Roosevelt’s D-Day speech was written and delivered as a prayer.

To most Americans, these expressions seem natural and hardly attract notice or comment. But to left liberals who view themselves as defending civil rights, they are part and parcel of religious establishment.

In two instances, the federal government has codified God into our everyday lives. Our national motto is In God We Trust and our Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase “under God.”

Opponents of these references to God argue that our government is establishing religion and imposing it on nonbelievers.

A variety of court rulings have resulted in a compromise: In God We Trust remains our motto. Under God remains in the pledge but no one is compelled to repeat or even stand during the pledge.

Interestingly, in 2002 the Senate voted 99-0 and the House 416-3 to retain the words “under God” in the pledge.

Read more: Public Law – 107-293 – to Reaffirm reference to One Nation under God in Pledge of Allegiance – 20021113.

More recently private school vouchers, used by some students to attend parochial schools, have been attacked. Opponents argue that this amounts to government support of religion. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of private school vouchers in 2002, but liberal attacks continue.

Turning to the free exercise clause, has government respected the free exercise of religion?

Catering to special interest groups, the far left Obama administration has attacked free exercise. Obama’s hit list is frightening to those who respect religious freedom and basic morality:

  • Requiring institutions to allow biologic males to use female restrooms and locker rooms if they self-identify as females.
  • Requiring employers to provide Obamacare birth control regardless of their religious convictions to the contrary.
  • Refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act despite the Constitution’s Article II that requires him to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
  • Shaming religious colleges who request exemptions from LGBT accommodation mandates
  • Opposing any attempt to limit abortions of viable fetuses

Whose religious rights are being attacked by the above? Ask an American Muslim how he or she feels about transgender bathrooms.

Those who respect religious freedom and millions of others have taken the only action possible against government repression. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence said it best:

When in the course of human events… any Form of Government becomes destructive… it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce (the People) under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.

The citizens of this country followed Jefferson’s advice and threw off Barack Obama’s despotic government on Nov. 8.

We embark on an uncertain future under new leadership, but for the religious it undoubtedly will be an improvement.

Happy New Year to all.

Howard Sierer is a developing columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Ron December 29, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Dear St. GeorgeNews,
    Would you please do most of your readers a favor, and at the same time turn over a new leaf for the coming new year 2017?
    Please replace Ed Kociela with this fine commentator Mr. Howard Sierer, and give Kociela a good reason to stay in Mexico…for good.
    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year everyone. (You too Ed).
    Thank you,

  • Pheo December 29, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Number one: Is this really going to be a thing? We have our own Bill O’Reilly in St George. Yay!

    Number two: This all boils down to religious people getting butthurt over people not believing the same way they do.

    Why else would you oppose gay marriage? Gay people getting married has zero effect on your life. Other people taking birth control does nothing to hurt you. Transgender people have been using bathrooms according to their adopted gender forever and there is not a single report of people being victimized by them in any way.

    Also, I think you need to look up the definition of despotism. Barack Obama’s presidency is nothing close to what Jefferson was referring to. While you are at it, you might as well look up socialism.

    I’m fine with conservatives having different ideas about how to run the country, but why not make arguments based on reality? Instead, there is all this hyperbole and people lap it up. In spite of the fact that unemployment is super low and wages are finally starting to climb, people feel more pessimistic than ever. This is your fault. The rage peddlers in the media (including you) need to be exposed for what they are.

    • Jerome December 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

      The funny thing about arguments is everyone can pick apart your own. If you are going to base your argument on “reality”, then is it really possible for you to know if there has ever been a “single report of people being victimized”? If this were the case then I would assume you are an knowing being. Thank you for stopping by.

      As far as gay people having zero effect on my life. In reality, you don’t know my life. Gay people have had an effect on my life, some of it negative and some of it positive. Just like your innocent comment had an effect on my life, as it triggered a response.

      It’s an amazing world out there and I have found that a world with individuals who believe they must answer to a deity, generally help create stability in society. If God did not impose right and wrong on us, then that just leaves your opinion on how to live my life, against mine. To be honest, why should I submit to your opinion? If you really think about it, that’s all it really comes down to.

      Isn’t it fun to criticize others, while leaving ourselves open to errors and criticism. So now I’ll patiently wait my turn.

      • Pheo December 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

        Atheists make up a disproportionately low percentage of prisoners. How do they know that it is wrong to kill and steal? Because we all generally naturally understand what is right or wrong without having to have a supernatural being tell us. (Even Mormons acknowledge this, calling it the Light of Christ.) Religions seem to be anxious to get all the credit for human values that had been developing for millennia before they came along.

        Other than that, I’m not sure what your argument is. Okay, I accept that people affect you just by interacting with you. Let me be more precise. Whether someone is gay or not does not affect you positively or negatively unless you overreact. Whether someone else chooses to have sex for fun instead of procreation doesn’t affect you positively or negatively unless you choose to make it an issue.

      • comments December 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        Yup, a lot of us don’t need make-believe deities and old middle eastern fairy tales to be able to tell right from wrong, surprising as it may be to some. It’s the ones who need the fairy tales and mythology as an excuse to be a decent person that you have to watch out for…

        • Jerome December 30, 2016 at 9:16 am

          Ha Ha Ha. See to me, it would be wrong for a decent person to make fun of another persons belief. Which brings me back to my point; that it’s only my opinion. Right and wrong to who? Society? Your neighbor? You may have a majority that agree with you , but it is still only an opinion, or a point of view. There are many other societies that would disagree with both you and I. I fully understand that there are certain things a person should do if they want to fit in with society, but that doesn’t mean that a person would believe its wrong.

          Would you mind showing this list that you have of what is right and wrong? A decent person certainly would. My guess is that you probably won’t as you don’t want to fully stand behind your claim, or you may not have the full list. I would also guess to say that at some point as you read this, you had the thought that this is only my opinion, which means your on the right track. So ultimately, who is the final say? If it’s you, then please share. Oh, and also share the consequences, otherwise the other is futile.

          • comments December 30, 2016 at 2:42 pm

            I see a lot of questions in there and requests for lists, but overall i’m not sure what ur even trying to say or ask.

          • Chris December 30, 2016 at 7:40 pm

            ” it would be wrong for a decent person to make fun of another persons (sic) belief. ” If you really believe that, you should be horrified by Howard Sierer’s columns to date. In three installments, Howard has continuously engaged in “making fun” of the beliefs of the liberal left, even though he can’t seem to get any of his facts straight.

            What is “this list” of right and wrong you refer to? Neither Pheo, nor anyone else here, referred to any such list. He said we should “naturally understand what is right or wrong.” That concept precludes any list, relying on human instinct instead. You’re really in over your head here, Jerome. Best head back to Facebook and Instagram–much more your speed.

  • Pheo December 29, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Maybe your next column can be about how your Christmas was ruined because someone said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

  • theone December 29, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I can’t for the life of me understand why you religious people think your God is under attack. No one is taking your religious freedom from you in any way. Where the word Creator lands in the 1st Amendment there is a little word just before it, (their) meaning your own, not a blanket God for all. Separation of Church and State seems to elude the religious at every turn. We’re a Nation with religious citizens, not a religious Nation. Go practice your belief in peace it’s not under attack.

  • comments December 29, 2016 at 11:48 am


    Sounds like we have our very own mormon-rupublican Chicken Little. I can tell this guy doesn’t know history very well and is essentially just parroting talking points he’s picked up off right-wing kook radio programs, fox news, and similar. However I’m not against replacing Ed Kociela, hopefully with something better than this guy, LOL.

    • comments December 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

      On a positive note, Bryan Hyde’s column has gotten quite agreeable. We don’t hear all this blathering and nonsense about “liberals this and liberals that” because we all remember what a wonderful president baby Bush the 2nd was, right? And what a wonderfully moral person Mr Trump is (Grab ’em by the *****!), LOL

      • Henry December 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        So you prefer Hillary, laughing about her gaining the acquittal for the child rapist (real life, not fiction)? Or her telling jokes about “Colored People’s Time”? Or the gay Mormon candidate Evan? He might truly enjoy “grab by the ‘other body part’ “. LOL

        • comments December 30, 2016 at 2:39 pm

          They are all filth. Complete filth. All u need to know.

        • Chris December 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm

          ” laughing about her gaining the acquittal for the child rapist” Never happened, of course. However, that won’t stop Henry from repeating it ad nauseum, along with all the other political myths that he’s latched onto.

          • Henry December 31, 2016 at 3:59 pm

            It’s becoming easier and easier to refute your falsehoods, Chris. First I had to correct you twice about your election voting totals, using those right-wing bastions, the Washington Post and the New York Times (LOL). Now I have to correct you about remarks made by Hillary that were captured on audio.

            There are numerous articles that addressed this. Here’s a link to the fact check by the Washington Post:


            I selected this article for two reasons: 1) it imbedded the audio interview of Hillary, and 2) it includes some of the straw-splitting that other faux “fact checkers” are using to try to defend Hillary.

            Here are some exerts from the WaPo article:

            – “In 1965, Clinton _then Hillary Rodham – was a 27-year-old law instructor running a legal aid clinic…After a 41-year-old factory worker was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl, he asked the judge to replace his male court-appointed lawyer with a female attorney. The judge…picked Clinton.”

            – “Once appointed, she aggressively defended the alleged rapist; at one point, she attacked the 12-year-old’s credibility…”

            – “Ultimately, the prosecution’s case fell apart…so in a plea agreement, the charges were reduced from first-degree rape to unlawful fondling of a minor under the age of 14.”

            – “In the recorded interview (from the mid-1980s, by Arkansas reporter Roy Reed), Clinton is heard laughing or giggling FOUR TIMES when discussing the case…” (my emphasis)

            – 1st instance: “ ‘He (the defendant) took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.’ Both Clinton and the reporter laugh.”

            – 3rd instance: “ ‘well, this guy’s ready to come up from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice.’ Clinton laughs, as does the reporter.”

            – “The laughter on the tape is open to interpretation; certainly some might find it disturbingly lighthearted.”

            What’s your next claim going to be, Chris – that the sun no longer rises in the east? LOL

  • anybody home December 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Looks like the St. George News is going “all-conservative, all the time.” Kocela has been a great contrast to Bryan Hyde. Mr. Sierer may be a good engineer, but he’s not a journalist…just an opinionated old guy with a keyboard…

  • Craig December 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    The Constitution specifies freedom of religion. The intent was that the government could not mandate a state religion like England did in the 1600s with the Chirch of England. This nearly cost William Penn his life. But, we allow a Supreme Court to illegally amend the Constitution.

    The treatment of the “bakery owners” is obviously unconstitutional, but we sit idly and do nothing.

    We took a risk and elected a non-politician as President. We dar d do what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

    A next step would be to limit all three branches of government (including Justices) to a single fixed 6-8 year term for life.

    Then those serving would really be servants.

    It must include the ZJudticrd because they freely admit biased voting and use the lifetime appointment to protect Ct their bias, not their objectivity.

    We must include the Congtess, President, and vice-President because they use office for personal power and wealth accumulation.

    We must return to the Constitution. We must amend it legally. We must refuse to continue the course of F Roosevelt, thr at Ning the Court to get the Court to illegally change the Constitution, as they did with their lies about Obamacare.

    Freedom is more important than charity.

    • theone December 29, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      LOL The Supreme Court isn’t amending the constitution, they’re interpreting it when deciding if a law is valid or not.
      Get a grip my friend your freedom of religion isn’t in danger.

      If you want to open a bakery to serve the public for profit you must obey any discrimination laws, if it hurts your little feelers
      to bake a cake for same sex couples then do business as a freelance agent where you can legally pick who you bake a cake for.

      I know you think it’s you being dumped on, but in reality it’s your bigoted hateful view of others that is plaguing society like a parasite.

  • Chris December 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    “for the religious it undoubtedly will be an improvement.” I see. To protect the “rights” of religious people to impose their beliefs on non-believers (that’s really what Howard is advocating), we needed to elect a man with absolutely no record of religious conviction and an extensive record of immoral behavior. Making any sense or showing any original thought is not something Howard has shown us to date. Of course, if he could think on his own, he wouldn’t be religious!

  • commonsense December 30, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    The irony is Obama pretends to be religious to suck votes from another identity niche.
    The founding fathers never thought to exclude religious beliefs and practices from government but only the establishment of a particular official religion as representing America. I have to laugh at liberals embracing Muslim rights but excluding Christian rights.

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