What is the First Amendment?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” prohibiting the free exercise of religion, infringing freedom of speech, infringing freedom of the press, limiting the right to peaceably assemble, or limiting the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The protections of the First Amendment are extended to state governments by the Fourteenth Amendment. Ottawa Impact is a First Amendment organization that fights to defend these protections.
What is religious liberty?
Religious liberty is the right to follow the faith of your choice—or to follow no faith at all. Religious liberty is a cornerstone of our nation and is the first freedom guaranteed to Americans by the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, the right to express one’s religion or associate on the basis of belief is under attack in our society and culture. For example, policymakers use the guise of “public safety” or “nondiscrimination” to infringe upon people’s rights. They then blame the powerless for disagreeing with the powerful, completely disregarding religious liberty and civil rights. This issue is increasingly important to educate about because rights are being quickly swept aside by authoritarian leaders claiming to act for the “common good.”
What is freedom of conscience?
Freedom of conscience means the right to be free to think and believe as you will without the imposition of official coercive power over those beliefs.
Liberty cannot exist when people are forced to conform their thoughts and expression to an official viewpoint. Differences of need and opinion are the natural byproducts of a vibrant, free society. However, today people are often expected to share a single viewpoint on hotly debated matters like the meaning and significance of diversity, the definition of social justice, and the impermissibility of “hate speech.” Mandatory diversity training, in which students or employees are instructed in an officially-approved ideology, is common. Some institutions have enacted policies that require students or employees to speak approved attitudes on these matters or face consequences.
What is due process?
The right to due process refers to the idea that governmental authorities must provide fair, unbiased, and equitable procedures when determining a person’s guilt or innocence. History has taught that the rights of all Americans can be secured only through the establishment of fair procedures and with a consciousness that all are equal in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately many people face processes that lack fair procedures, or in which a political viewpoint or institutional interest affects the outcome of events. Consider how major media and news corporations are teaching the wrong lessons about justice; people must come to know that justice means more than the enforcement of the will of the powerful and the suppression of the views of the powerless, a common narrative in today’s society and culture.