Religious Freedom: No Mere Accommodation

Columnist Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner stated the following in an article defending the HHS mandate: “The basic principle of American life is that we try to respect religious beliefs, and accommodate them where we can.”

Thanks for your input, Kristof, but the First Amendment is no mere accommodation, or “convenient arrangement” as the term is defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary. While your turn of phrase is advantageous to your ideology concerning the HHS mandate and religion in general, there is an elementary problem with your portrayal of governing authority over the governed. If freedom of religion is merely an arrangement made in convenience then, as soon as that so-called right becomes inconvenient (as our constitutional rights are so wont to do), then it no longer falls under the definition of accommodation and instead becomes a burden to the state. At which point the state will then shed its burden and, along with it, undermine the rights of the American people – just as we have witnessed with the HHS mandate. Our rights, however, are always a burden to the state – and rightly so – for they limit governing powers and that is why we have a constitution in defense of our liberties. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right endowed to us by our creator and our government does not “accommodate” it for us, like some service rendered. In fact, it is quite the opposite: we accommodate the government for the benefit of the common good and in protection of our God-given rights.

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