(quoting Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation):
Nonbelievers are a part of the fabric of America, and we claim our place at the table to exercise free speech and freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion.
(quoting Dave Miller)
For sure, the Founders of America desired religious freedom. Technically, by “religious freedom” they meant that all Protestant denominations should have the right to pursue their own interpretation of the Bible and to worship the God and Christ of the Bible according to their own consciences without governmental interference. As one of the Fathers of American Jurisprudence, Joseph Story, explained:
The real object of the [first] amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government (1833, Vol. 3, Bk. 3, Ch. 44, Sec. 1871).
My two cents
I’m glad that Dave Miller could better answer the question of what constitutes freedom of religion than Dan Barker could. Even better, Miller has gone to a 19th century source–long before the era of the blogosphere, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, FFRF, et al.
I think it’s a stretch to take the word “of” in a phrase and twist it so it always means “from”. For example:
- Freedom of speech can’t be twisted to mean freedom from speech
- Freedom of essentialism can’t be twisted to mean freedom from essentialism
- Freedom of slavery can’t be twisted to mean freedom from slavery
- Freedom of totalitarian regimes can’t be twisted to mean freedom from totalitarian regimes
- Freedom of religion can’t be twisted to mean freedom from religion.
- Tu. J.I. (2008). Nonbelievers’ sign at Capitol counters Nativity. Available: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2008458044_noreligion02m.html. Last accessed 11th Feb 2013.
- Miller, D. (2007). Hindu Prayer in Congress. Available: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=2215. Last accessed 11th Feb 2013.