Freedom of religion vs. Freedom of worship. What’s the difference?

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 in the past year 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 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejecting the term “freedom of religion” for 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 accomplish “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 control.

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 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 this year 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 want to 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. Hillary Clinton’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.

Should the EPA regulate CO2? At what level?

Of course the EPA must regulate CO2. Just look at the dangers of Hypercapnia.

At 1% concentration of carbon dioxide CO2 (10,000 parts per million or ppm) and under continuous exposure at that level, such as in an auditorium filled with occupants and poor fresh air ventilation, some occupants are likely to feel drowsy.  Carbon dioxide concentration  must be over t 2% (20,000 ppm) before most people are aware of its presence unless the odor of an associated material (auto exhaust or fermenting yeast, for instance) is present at lower concentrations. Above 2%, carbon dioxide may cause a feeling of heaviness in the chest and/or more frequent and deeper respirations. If exposure continues at that level for several hours, minimal “acidosis” (an acid condition of the blood) may occur but more often is absent. Breathing rate doubles at 3% CO2 and is four times the normal rate at 5% CO2. Toxic levels of carbon dioxide: at levels above 5%, concentration CO2 is directly toxic. [At lower levels we may see the effects of a reduction in the relative amount of oxygen and not direct toxicity of CO2.]

So I guess the EPA should monitor the CO2 levels, and when they reach 10000 ppm they will have to regulate it. (I am only half-way kidding, indoor concentrations can reach these levels).

Thanksgiving proclamation 2008 vs 2009.

In 2008, George W Bush issued his last Thanksgiving proclamation. After the first sentence: Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather together and express gratitude for all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the loved ones who enrich our lives. We recognize that all of these blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God. Then Bush adds a historic perspective: Every Thanksgiving, we remember the story of the Pilgrims who came to America in search of religious freedom and a better life. Having arrived in the New World, these early settlers gave thanks to the Author of Life for granting them safe passage to this abundant land and protecting them through a bitter winter. Then he continues with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

In 2009 Barack H Obama starts: What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities nearly four centuries ago has become our cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. This day’s roots are intertwined with those of our nation, and its history traces the American narrative. Then Barack goes on with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, after which he adds: We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our nation. From our earliest days of independence, and in times of tragedy and triumph, Americans have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

In Obama’s narrative the reference to the Author of Life is gone, the Pilgrims are colonists, we are to thank each other and Thanksgiving is a harvest celebration.

Fourth of July is a celebration of the birth of the nation, Memorial day is a day of commemoration and Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks to God.

We must not cheapen it to a celebration, celebrating each other for our good deeds.