48 Presbyteries have voted to uphold the historic and orthodox Biblical teaching
on sexual expression and marriage as a standard to be held within the church bodies, as a standard for marriage and the
practice of faith. These Presbyteries have taken a costly stand for Biblical Authority in a denomination embracing a
Unitarian expression of faith, without sin, as sin is expressed and defined in the old testament and new testament canons;
without the need of the Lord Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross to pay for our sins; without the need for the
Lord Jesus Christ's bodily Resurrection from the dead; or the need for the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus
Christ; without the need for the virgin birth, and, of course, the complete denial and deletion of
Hell and its evil residents from any acknowledged belief. These 48 Presbyteries have stood for Biblical Authority
in an age of trending Unitarianism.
What is the historic, legal basis, for
free exercise of religion found in the First Amendment,
(in a nation originally founded, by
religious groups, seeking religious freedom)?
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in the decision (written by Justice Anthony Kennedy) of City of Boerne v. P.F. Flores,
Archbishop of San Antonio, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), dissented, and argued against Justice Kennedy's decision and
the refusal of the Court to expand the reach of RFRA,
(Religious Freedom and Restoration Act), to
the states, by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Justice O'Connor's dissent, she felt that the protection of a
church, which was the subject of the litigation, from local zoning laws, should have been upheld, and was contrary to the
long judicial history of protecting the full Freedom of Expression of the Christian community and every religious community. As
Justice O'Connor stated in her dissent (Excerpts):
" . . . contrary
to the Court's holding in that case (Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872), the
Free Exercise Clause is not simply an antidiscrimination principle that protects only against those laws that single out religious
practice for unfavorable treatment. See Smith, supra at 892-903 . . . rather, the Clause is best understood as
an affirmative guarantee of the right to participate in religious practices and conduct without impermissible governmental
interference, even when such conduct conflicts with a neutral, generally applicable law. Before Smith, our free exercise
cases were generally in keeping with this idea; where a law substantially burdened religiously motivated conduct--regardless
whether it was specifically targeted at religion or applied generally -- we required government to justify that law was
a compelling state interest and to use means narrowly tarilored to achieve that interest, see 494 U.S. at 894 (citing Hernandez
v. Commissioner, 490 U.S. 680, (1989); Hobbie v. Unemployment Appeals Commin of Fla., 480 U.S. 136, 141 (1987); United States
v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, 257-258, (1982); McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618, 626-629 (1978); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 215
(1972); Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437, 462, (1971); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 403 (1963). . . ."
O'Connor went on to state in her dissenting opinion (Excerpts):
. . I would return to a rule that requires government to justify any substantial burden on religiously motivated conduct
by a compelling state interest and to impose that burden only by means narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. .
" . . . The historical evidence casts doubt on the
Court's current interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause. The record instead reveals that its drafters and ratifiers
more likely viewed the Free Exercise Clause as a guarantee that government may not unnecessarily hinder believers from freely
practicing their religion, a position consistent with pre-Smith jurisprudence. . . ."
". . . Apprehensive that the newly established federal government would overwhelm the rights of States and
individuals, they wanted explicit assurances that the federal government had no power in matters of personal liberty.
T. Curry, The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment 194 (1986). Additionally, Baptist
and other Protestant dissenters feared for their religious liberty under the new Federal Government and called for an amendment
guaranteeing religious freedom. Id., at 198. . . "
" . . .
A variety of sources supplement the legislative history and shed light on the original understanding of the Free Exercise
Clause. These materials suggest that -- contrary to Smith -- the Framers did not intent simply to prevent the Government
from adopting laws that discriminated against religion. Although the Framers may not have asked precisely the questions
about religious liberty that we do today, the historical record indicates that they believed that the Constitution affirmatively
protects religious free exercise and that it limits the government's ability to intrude on religious practice. ., . . "
" . . . The principle of religious 'free exercise' and the notion that religious liberty deserved legal protection were
by no means new concepts in 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified. To the contrary, these principles were first
articulated in this country in the colonies of Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Carolina, in the mid
1600's. These colonies, though established as sanctuaries for particular groups of religious dissenters, extended
freedom of religion to groups -- although often limited to Christian groups -- beyond their own. Thus, they encountered
early on the conflicts that may arise in a society made up of a plurality of faiths."
". . . Soon after, in 1649, the Maryland Assembly enacted the first free exercise clause by passing the Act Concerning
Religion: 'Noe person . . . professing to beleive in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth bee any waies troubled, molested
or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof . . . nor any way be compelled
to the beleife or exercise of any other Religion against his or her consent, soe as they be not unfaithfull to the Lord Proprietary,
or molest or conspire against the civill Government..' Act Concerning Religion of 1649, reprinted in 5 The Founders'
Constitution 49, 50 (P. Kurland & R. Kurland eds. 1987) (hereinafter Founders' Constitution). . . . '.
" . . . Rhode Island's Charter of 1663 used the analogous term-liberty of conscience. It protected residents from
being 'in any ways molested, punished, disquieted, or called into question, for any differences in opinion, in matters of
religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of said colony'.
" . . . These documents suggest that, early in our country's history, several colonies acknowledged that freedom to pursue
one's chosen religious beliefs was an essential liberty. Moreover, these colonies appeared to recognize that government
should interfer in religious matters only when necessary to protect civil peace or to prevent 'licentiousness'".
" . . . The language used in these state constitutional provisions and the Northwest Ordinance strongly suggests
that, around the time of the drafting of the Bill of Rights, it was generally accepted that the right to "free exercise"
required, where possible, accommodation of religious practice. . . "
" . . . In May 1776, the Virginia Constitutional Convention wrote a constitution containing a Declaration of Rights,
with a clause on religious liberty. The initial drafter of the clause, George Mason, proposed the following: "That
religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be (directed) only by reason and
conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, that all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise
of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless,under colour of
religion any man disturb the peace . . . " 1 Papers of George Mason 284-285 (R. Rutland ed. 1970) (Empahasis Added). "
" . . . Like the federal Free Exercise Clause, the Virginia religious liberty clause was simply silent on the subject,
providing only that all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience."
" . . . The ways in which these conflicts were resolved suggest that Americans in the colonies and early States thought
that, if an individual's religious scruples prevented him from complying with a generally applicable law, the government
should, if possible, excuse the person from the law's coverage . . ."
" . . . legislative accommodations were a common response to conflicts between religious practice and civil obligation
. . ."
" . . . These legislatures apparently believed that
the appropriate response to conflicts between civil law and religious scruples was, where possible, accommodation of religious
conduct. It is reasonable to presume that the drafters and ratifiers of the First Amendment -- many of whom served in
state legislatures -- assumed courts would apply the Free Exercise Clause similarly, so that religious liberty was safeguarded.
. . "
" . . . The "Memorial and Remonstrance"
begins with the recognition that "the Religion . . . of every man must be left to conviction and conscience of every
man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." 2 Writings of James Madison 184
(G.Hunt ed. 1901). By its very nature, Madison wrote, the right to free exercise is "unalienable", both because
a person's opinion "cannot follow the dictates of others", and because it entails "a duty toward the Creator"
Ibid. Madison continued: "This duty owed to the Creator is precedent both in order of time and degree
of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society . . . . Every man who becomes a member of any Civil Society, must do it with
a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion,
no man's right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance"
" . . . To Madison, then, duties to God
were superior to duties to civil authorities -- the ultimate loyalty was owed to God above all. . . The idea that civil obligations
are subordinate to religious duty is consonant with the notion that government must accommodate, where possible, those religious
practices that conflict with civil law."