Freedom of Worship or Freedom of Religion? What difference at this point does it make? A Limerick.

Is ‘Freedom of Worship’ Religion?
Confusion? Yes, more than a smidgen.
Both Barry and Hillary
make Freedom auxiliary.
The first of five freedoms: Religion.

This country was founded by people of faith. What type of faith depended to some extent on where they settled. Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, Moravians, Swedenborgians, Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians to name a few settled in Pennsylvania, the champion province for freedom of Religion. Other provinces, such as Virginia and Maryland were founded by Anglicans and Catholics. And of course the Puritans landed on Cape Cod. Most of them had one thing in common, faith, so when the constitution was formed they agreed that the faith issue should be free from meddling by Congress, both to the establishment of religion, and to prohibit the free exercise thereof.

So, what is the difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion?

Mark Twain once said: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  Words matter.  This is especially true when it comes to the words of our Constitution. Those words are especially cherished. Yet it seems the Obama administration has changed one key word in that foundational document.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2010 report revealed grave concern about both President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton substituting the term “freedom of religion” with the term “freedom of worship” in public pronouncements. Why the change?

The First Amendment has two clauses about Freedom of Religion. The first part is known as the Establishment Clause, and the second as the Free Exercise Clause. The Establishment Clause prohibits Government from passing laws that establishes an official religion or preferring one religion over another. The courts have interpreted the establishment clause to mean “separation of church and state”. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits Government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion. However, courts have ruled that religious actions and rituals can be limited by civil and federal laws. Religious freedom is an absolute right, and includes the right to practice any religion of one’s choice, or no religion at all, and to do this without government interference.

November 2009, President Obama used the term “freedom of worship” at the memorial service for the victims of the Ft. Hood shooting. A few days later he did it again in speeches in both Japan and China. In December  former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also used that terminology three times in a speech at Georgetown University and never once used the phrase “freedom of religion”. In January of 2010  Clinton used the “freedom of worship” term four times while addressing senators.

This change in phraseology could well be viewed by human rights defenders and officials in other countries as having concrete policy implications.” – U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2010 report.

That’s not an inconsequential change: Freedom of worship means the ability to have church services, which is crucial, but leaves out protection for Christian schools, publications, and Christian compassionate ministries…’Freedom of religion’ means that ministries designed to help prisoners change their lives, or to help the poor enter the workforce, can teach what the Bible teaches. Under ‘freedom of worship,’ these ministries could become illegal, as they are in many parts of the world. This is a development to watch warily. – World Magazine.

This President clearly sees religion as a key part of foreign affairs, especially when the Muslim world is involved. He is ultra-careful to not offend followers of Islam. We already know the administration has rejected the term “radical Islam” or any similar language and refuses to admit religion plays a major role in terrorism.

This new terminology of “freedom of worship” might be given as a sign to Muslim nations and places with Christian persecution like China that they are not going to crack down on religious persecution for minority religions in those countries. That could explain why Obama first used the term after a radical Muslim killed Americans at Ft. Hood. And it could also explain why he used the term in speeches in China and Japan.

In my opinion Obama’s goal is to accommodate some aspects of Sharia law in this country. The State Department’s goal is to make this country sign the UNITED NATIONS Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention is signed by 194 countries but not US and Somalia. While looking good on paper the effect of this convention is that the State (Remember “separation of Church and State”) has superior claim on the children, not the parents.

We are talking Freedom of religion versus Freedom of worship. Let me illustrate the difference. Many missionaries and ex-pats live in Muslim countries. They enjoy freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion. One of the tenets of the Christian Faith is the obligation, right and privilege to proclaim the Good News. You can worship without fulfilling the great commission, and missionaries in Muslim countries risk their very lives were they to proclaim the Gospel without first being invited to do so. Even in this country some Christians were arrested for handing out Gospels of John outside a Muslim festival in Dearborn, MI. They exercised freedom of religion. Islam does by its very tenets not tolerate freedom of religion, but it does accept freedom of worship as a rule.

Our freedom of religion is at risk. This is a spiritual battle, and it must be fought with spiritual means. Pray! The future of our nation is at risk. Pray! The future of the world is in jeopardy. Pray!

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Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

2 thoughts on “Freedom of Worship or Freedom of Religion? What difference at this point does it make? A Limerick.”

  1. I have mixd feelings with your assessments and my reasons are as follows; Catholics and Jews were not welcomed by these first arrivals and the Puritans brought their superstitions with them too, “witches” they believed in their existence thus the Salem witch hunts are part of our history.
    I believe you are making a distinction without a difference
    . You say words matter but since when have Christians adhered to the separation of church and state as explained by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists.
    “Freedom to worship” is also used by many folks so when Obama uses it is innocuous it does not change the wording in the Bill of Rights, as far as I know it is still intact. I don’t believe Obama was phrasing it with an ulterior motive.
    The courts step in when Christians abridge the separation it’s not the other way around as you claim.
    Even during the debates by the FF’s Christians challenged Jefferson and Madison on the Establishment Clause. They wanted an official status in gov. Thomas Jefferson suffered the indignation of being labeled as an atheist by folks who either refused to accept his concept or simply didn’t understand his wisdom as evidenced by your attempt to steer us off course.
    I side with Obama and all folks who believe the terrorists use the Muslim religion to kill much the same as the Christian Crusaders did during the Middle Ages. The fields of Europe were left littered with the corpses of impaled and burned bodies of humanity. So please spare me the faux indignation, Christianity too stands before the world with its hands dripping with the blood of humanity.
    Here in America all religions have been defanged no longer will we suffer having a head of state also serving as the head of the church.
    You further vilify Muslims for doing what Christians do spread the word and seek converts.
    I believe what further upsets you is that no longer can Christians destroy cultures and traditions and supplant them with your beliefs as they did with the indigenous native populations of the Americas.
    You have a mission they have a mission (Muslims) when the two collide the result is conflict and or war.
    Your warnings and lamantations are for naught to me .
    I only wish to see the entire world rid itself of religion I see it as an accurst to humanity but to my regret I know I won’t live long enough to see it.

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