Morning Bell: Don’t Stop Our Freedom to Debate
Amy Payne / Jennifer Marshall /
There’s a heated debate going on in this country about marriage—and at times, it’s less than civil.
Heritage’s William E. Simon Fellow, Ryan Anderson, faced a verbal firing squad on Piers Morgan Live this week, as Morgan and guest host Suze Orman told him that he was one of the few people “still” holding a traditional view of marriage between a man and a woman.
Obviously, that’s not true. Citizens of 41 states continue to affirm marriage as it has been through history, and thousands joined the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., this week to attest to the fact.
But emotionally charged discussions can be uncomfortable—even if you’re not on national television. To foster reasoned debate, The Heritage Foundation and other allies have produced a booklet that explains why maintaining the definition of marriage matters for children and for limited government.
We should welcome debates like these, and that’s why the Supreme Court should not cut it off. It should uphold the marriage laws before it right now and allow the American people to continue to make marriage policy. Judicial restraint respects the democratic process.
That democratic process is possible because all Americans also enjoy liberty of conscience. This is exactly why we have religious freedom—so that we can live out and voice our beliefs without the fear that the government is going to restrict us. It’s so basic to our way of life that we take it for granted.
“We have so much religious freedom here that we’re like a fish who doesn’t know what water is,” says author Eric Metaxas. Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer and Amazing Grace, spoke on the centrality of religious freedom at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this month.
Just as a fish doesn’t notice water until it is taken away, we often assume our religious liberty until it is threatened. In the past few years, Americans have stood up against government intrusions that threaten to erode our First Amendment freedoms, speaking out against Obamacare’s Health and Human Services mandate. And while tolerance is supposed to be one of the liberal virtues, it has often been lacking in the public conversation.
But we are having the conversations. Where religious liberty is threatened in our society, people are calling attention to it. In many countries, people of faith are imprisoned, tortured, and killed for speaking out. Our Constitution protects us from such horrors.
This week marks holy observances for Christians and Jews. It is a fitting time to consider the fact that we have the freedom to celebrate holy days, live alongside people of all faiths, and openly debate the issues that are most important to us.
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