Freedom of Speech

Our Founding Fathers fought and died for our right to various freedoms including freedom of speech.  The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Most Americans remember the first part where "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" but precious few (and fewer each year) remember or understand the second part where they also may not make a law "prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." On October 7th 1801 in a letter to President Thomas Jefferson by the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, concerns were stated that the government should not intrude on the religious rights of the people.  President Jefferson believed that religion was an individual choice and should not be controlled by the government.  In his reply, he was careful not to answer their question of the state's involvement, but was very clear that there should be a "wall of separation between church and state" so as not to allow the congress to do anything that might establish a religion.  In other words, President Jefferson and the Danbury Association were both concerned that government might intrude upon the religious freedoms of its people. Since then many have come to eroneousely believe that "separation of church and state" is written into the Constitution and that it was put there to keep religion from intruding upon the government.  In recent years there have been many cases in which the rights of those of faith, particularly the Christian faith, have been violated in the name of "separation of church and state."  Yet if we examine the speech of our Founding Fathers we find that they were not advocating that religion be kept out of the government at all. "Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?" -Thomas Jefferson "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -John Adams Since those who believe that religion should be taken out of society are quite vocal and articulate, many laws have been passed and traditions altered that make it difficult for Christians to have true freedom of speech.  This is why it is so vitally important that Christians learn to speak up and speak out in grace and with respect in order to articulately present our case as President Jefferson stated in his letter.  This takes more communication skill these days as this has become a controversial and emotionally charged topic. This Independence Day, let's do something that will help us speak up for our beliefs in a more effective and persuasive way.  Let's teach our children to speak up and speak out in grace!  It's actually easier than you think!  Check out all the creative and fun eStudies for all ages at Art of! Free speech isn't always free!  It takes preparation and hard work to speak in a way that will be effective in today's society. Start preparing today.  Your children's freedom of speech will depend upon it! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit


  • Carla

    I believe that the 1st Amendment guarantees us freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. The Pilgrims came here from Europe seeking religious freedom. They knew all about persecution and what a state or king-run religious system was like. Sadly, it has been twisted over the years.

    What really scares me, though, is the last sentence of the first amendment, which is being eroded faster and faster:

    “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I foresee that, very soon, we will not longer have the redress of grievances that we have been heretofore guaranteed. Our current administration does not like criticism or to be challenged on any point. That is a very scary proposition. To learn, we only have to look at some of the other forms of government that were popular over the past 100 years or so. I don’t remember who said it, but I firmly believe in the saying. . . “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” (Probably a bad paraphase on my part.)

  • Doug Indeap

    In discussing issues of separation of church and state, it is critical to distinguish the “public square” from “government.” The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square—far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views—publicly as well as privately. And in practice, there is plenty of religion out there in the public square; I see and hear of it daily on the street, on the radio, on the TV, on the internet, etc.

    The First Amendment’s “establishment” clause constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. When an individual acts in an official capacity on a government matter (e.g., a public school teacher instructing students in the classroom), he or she should conform to the First Amendment constraints on government. When an individual participates in an official event as an individual rather than as a government agent, he or she presumably has the freedom to express religious views. While figuring out whether someone is acting in an official or private capacity in any given circumstance can be complex, recognizing the distinction is critical.

    The First Amendment thus embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise and express his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote his or her views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion.

    Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how the principles embodied in the First Amendment should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to transform our secular government into some form of government-religion partnership should be resisted by every patriot.

  • Cindy Holman

    I love this post – so well thought out and delivered so nicely! Our freedom of speech was bought at a great price – and I’m so grateful for those that have gone before us to make sure this happened for us :) Hope you have a terrific 4th of July!

  • Trudy Allen

    What a great blog! I have been working with my daughter on making sure when she talks about things like faith and religion that she is clear and concise. She is very outspoken – even at 9. We take the freedom of speech very seriously in our home. I intend to make sure that the torch is passed to our future generations.

  • Real Life Sarah

    Fabulous articulation of the true intent of the freedom of religion and speech argument. I wish more people understood this!

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