First Freedom First: Defending the right to worship . . . or not.

April 27, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More was co-founded by two Believers, Barry Lynn and Dr. Welton Gaddy. On behalf of First Freedom First, they have produced an hour-long video to inform others of the importance of maintaining a political wall of separation between church and state. The Separation Clause appears in an abstract form in the U.S. Constitution, but there are deleterious real life consequences for violating the Separation Clause.

These issues are clearly illustrated by a diverse collection of guests, including musicians and comedians. Micheal Fox also makes an appearance, speaking out on the issue of stem cell research.

One of the guests is Matthew LaClair, an extraordinary high school student who publicized the fact that his “American History teacher” was actually preaching conservative Christianity in his New Jersey public high school classroom in 2006. Instead of being commended for speaking up, LaClair was ostracized by his high school’s administration and fellow students. That’s the price one should expect to pay, I suppose, for secretly tape-recording the “history teacher’s” lectures, then playing those tapes for the school board after the “history teacher” accused Matthew of lying. Matthew did what he had to do and his actions were courageous. What is truly amazing is that this same “history teacher” had been freely preaching religion in the public school classroomfor twelve years prior to Matthew speaking up.

The First Freedom First show includes about a dozen guests, each of them well spoken, paying tribute to this important issue of the separation of church and state.

After watching the show, it occurred to me that I had never seen any show like this before, anywhere. I’ve never before seen any video made for the general public that counters the “America is a Christian Nation” silliness that permeates the airwaves. It would seem that seriously reviewing the operation and importance of the Separation Clause should be mandatory for U.S. History students and the rest of us. After all, the Separation Clause is in our Constitution and it’s in there for a good reason.

The title to this post comes from actor James Whitmore’s challenge to this year’s crop of candidates: “Will you defend my right to worship . . . or not?


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Category: American Culture, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Back when the "Moral Majority" was campaigning against the first admendment, the chairman of the Conference of Southern Baptists took a stand against Falwell, by stating "You can't have freedom of religion without freedom from religion."

    There has always been a belief among Christians that a church run government would be a virtuous government. History has shown time after time that the result is a corrupt church that anti democratic and un forgiving. The integration of church and state has brought many things to mankind:

    The crusades

    The Inquisition

    The Salem Witch trials

    The Taliban

    and for an extreme example, read up on the Roman emporer Caligula

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    This 2-hour video will not persuade believers in "our Christian Nation" that there is any valid way to live other than as a Christian (or grudgingly as a Jew). The initial flip and comic interludes seemed sophomoric to me. Much of the text seems to argue for "an atheist agenda", if seen through the eyes of the "oppressed Christians". Remember that "Atheist", "Secular", and "demonic" are synonymous to true believers.

    All the speakers and clips were from the same side. There isn't even a semblance of fairness, as "Expelled" appears to intend. This appearance is critical if one wants to change the minds of people.

    Watch some of Kent Hovind's lecture videos. His ideas are demonstrably whack, but he delivers them convincingly with charm and persuasion. He is a pleasure to listen to, however much you disagree with him.

    I found this video tedious in many places. Points are made, but generally not in a manner meant to endear either opponents or undecideds.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan: I agree with much of what you've said. The production of this video is somewhat 1960's–it seems amateurish–and I cringe at the cutaways to the audience clapping on cue. It reminds me of an infomercial.

    But it's one of the first times I've seen a lengthy presentation geared to regular folks where these issue of separation of church and state are discussed at length. Where else would you tell a person to go on the Internet to get a first taste of the debate regarding separation clause? A lot of people come to this debate with preconceptions that teaching the public school kids lessons about Jesus and the Bible "Will do them some good–maybe it will even get them off those street drugs and keep them from having indiscrimiate sex."

    I do think we need accessible videos of this sort (but yes, produced more professionally and persuasively) as a launch point for those people who have just come from Kent Hovind's or Ken Ham's sites and have no idea that there even IS a legitimate issue.

    I suspect that many of these people will immediately tune out to the extent that they encounter Richard Dawkins' videos. I also suspect that the presence of Believers (as in this video) will put some people at ease that this is not another example of those immoral atheists trying to destroy America.

    Do you have any suggestions of websites to recommend to Believers who are actually sympathetic to the idea of the Ten Commandments being posted in public schools, who are nonetheless willing to listen to the other side?

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