Amendment 1 – Newton Daily News

The uproar over the Second Amendment continues unabated: We need our guns! This refrain seems constant. As a criminal defense attorney, I have former clients calling about how to get their gun rights back. They need their guns back as if that is a necessary condition for their self-respect. I’ve never had anyone ask me how he could get his wife or kids back, just their guns. Apparently guns are more important than wife or children.

However, if you were to actually read the amendments to the United States Constitution, the gun thing is second only to religion. Religion scared our founding fathers, and rightly so. It wasn’t that long ago that Protestants and Catholics were slaughtering each other across Europe, the auto de fé was still alive, and witches and heretics were still being burned to the ground or submerged until they drowned in recent times. Jews were still being killed randomly and Muslims were the antichrist. For people like Benjamin Franklin, Samuel and John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, religion mattered most to them above all else.

Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the practice 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.”

Folks, this is number one!

The Puritans did not care much about the religious climate in England, which was apparently far too indifferent. What they preferred was an imposed, religiously based government in New England, which they created as soon as they got here. So the idea that the American colonies were founded for religious freedom needs a closer examination than most are willing to give it.

Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York supported the Anglican Church; New England supported the Congregational Church; Delaware, Rhode Island, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey had no religion supported by the colonies. The founding fathers decided that a government-sponsored religion would not be allowed in any national government because it would cause far too many problems, just like in previous centuries. And you know, that would still be true.

There are people today with certain religious views who are trying to implant their views into the rest of us. We are now seeing a resurgence of these efforts in the United States. Listen to the TV and radio evangelists, watch the book ban and the laws being passed. Religion is by nature intolerant; it abhors difference. We have made a new, successful effort through our legislature here in Iowa to not only monitor and control behavior, but also to control beliefs – the beliefs that oppose their beliefs.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we have a country made up of every possible religion and political belief that can be found on this planet. The idea that one group will now impose its beliefs on the rest of us is not only unconstitutional, but simply absurd. Despite all efforts, this will not happen.

Richard E. H. Phelps II