As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, it is a good time to reflect on our civil rights and on our freedom. Martin Luther King helped to win the widespread recognition of rights that belong to all people, regardless of their race. His leadership, including civil disobedience, brought these matters to attention in a way that could not be ignored.
It is time for another application of civil disobedience to win back the recognition of and respect for rights that belong to all people. The rights I speak of are the rights to the free exercise of religion. The Federal courts have overstepped their bounds in limiting the free exercise of religion. Federal courts do not have the rightful power to limit the free exercise of religion any more than Jim Crow Laws had the rightful power to mandate racial segregation.
Let me explain. The U.S. Constitution sets forth the powers of the three branches of government in our country. By far, the largest share of government powers is granted to the Congress. They are listed first, in Article I, including ten sections that run about eight pages in the pocket edition that I have. Article II sets forth the president’s powers. It includes four sections and runs less than four pages. Article III grants power to the Supreme Court and to the inferior courts established by Congress. It is only three sections, with the court’s powers being set forth in a single sentence. Altogether it is just over one page long. Clearly, the federal courts were to be the least powerful branch of government. Even a cursory reading of the Constitution will show this to be true.
Now, let’s examine the First Amendment, arguably the most important of the first ten amendments which is known as the Bill of Rights. This amendment prohibits the congress from making any law which prohibits the free exercise of religion. If congress, which has extensive powers, cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, then clearly, neither can the Federal courts.
Why do we permit federal courts to prohibit the free exercise of religion such as prayers and Bible reading in schools? Simply because they have usurped power which is not rightfully theirs and no one has challenged them. The time has come for us to challenge the unconstitutional actions by the courts! This calls for ordinary citizens and the elected officials, including local, state, and national to respectfully and peacefully disobey any unconstitutional orders of the courts.
Martin Luther King challenged unjust laws and won important rights for us all. We must likewise challenge unconstitutional rulings by the courts or we will have lost one of our most precious freedoms, the freedom to practice our religion.
I grew up in Kansas in the 1950's - 60's. I attended Kansas State (B.S. in Soc. Science) and Washburn Law School (J.D.). My wife and I have been married for over thirty years and are the parents of three grown sons.