Today it is repeated often freedom of religion is our most basic right, “the first freedom”. Both Presidential candidates, especially Romney, talk about it.
The Catholic Church has been successful in pushing their problems with pedophiles off the front page by talking up their “religious liberties”.
Charleton Heston, when he headed up the National Rifle Association, explained in a speech the right to bear arms was the “first freedom”. If you couldn’t shoot at the government, it would take away all the other rights.
It’s interesting the term “religious liberty” in not in the constitution. While the constitution talks up freedom of speech, it talks down government religion.
In that way, one could say, the focus of the founding fathers was on freedom from religion, and only as a result of that is there freedom to practice it. Conventional wisdom, however, has mostly placed the priority the other way around.
This is typical. The Constitution, like the Bible, is often referred to as a document we are to take literally. In practice, even those most enamored by the literal concept do not do so.
Personnally, I cannot imagine the founders would like the way the Catholic Church is using religion in the workplace, especially when it received a billion dollars from taxpayers. They receive this from federal contracts and by avioding local taxes.
Which is more important, freedom of or freedom from? In my view the balance tips at least slightly to freedom from.