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CBOR-RF: The Religious Freedom Amendment

SECTION 1. The free exercise of religion by employees or representatives of a governmental entity shall not be construed as an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. No governmental entity shall be denied the use of religious terminology or art to communicate facts or ideas of historical or mission-oriented significance.

SECTION 3. The following is designated as the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

SECTION 4. A governmental entity shall make no law or regulation compelling any person to contribute goods or services against conscience toward:
4A. establishing, celebrating, sustaining, or affirming a marriage or similar family-establishing relationship;
4B. establishing, celebrating, sustaining, or affirming a parent-child relationship;
4C. establishing, celebrating, sustaining, or affirming a change of gender identity;
4D. enabling a child to be conceived, or toward preventing a child from being conceived;
4E. ending the life of a human being from conception onward, unless the person serves in law enforcement or the military and is lawfully ordered to take human life to advance law enforcement or military objectives.

SECTION 5. A governmental entity shall make no law prohibiting circumcision performed on a male by sex.

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My original design for this Amendment consisted of the first section, a second section resembling the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the third section, but the RFRA turned out to be dog-ugly legal language that I wasn’t sure anyone could get behind. Moreover, putting its language at the Constitutional level could be rife for unintended consequences. I finally concluded it would be better to go in the other direction: Stop trying to form a “general principles” protection of some kind and instead snipe at particular issues.

The first section puts the kibosh on any notion that you lose your religious rights as a public official or representative. That means whether you’re an executive (e.g., the President, a governor), a legislator, a judge, a soldier, a cop, a teacher, a student, etc., you have the right to be religious. Your being personally religious and expressing that religion as any member of that religion would is not a violation of the First Amendment just because you are a public employee.

The second section eliminates many of the nitpicky cases that are often filed against public institutions for having made mention of religious terminology or utilized any artistic depiction of religious concepts even when it makes perfect secular sense for those terms or pieces of art to be there. If your city was founded by Catholic priests, for example, it would make perfect sense if there were a cross in the city seal – not for religious reasons, but for historical reasons. Likewise, if a soldier wants his or her dog tags inscribed with a Bible verse for a spiritual morale boost, there’s no reason for that verse to come off. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee freedom from religion — not even within the confines of a public building or outdoors on public grounds.

The third section removes the clause “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Why? Because even though the principles upon which America was founded have some theistic underpinnings, Americans themselves are a religiously pluralistic body, made up of believers and nonbelievers alike. Therefore, no American should be required to make a theological statement in order to pledge allegiance to his/her country. I want religious folk and hardcore atheists and agnostics alike to stand and say the pledge with one accord and without mental reservation. The pledge is about Americans declaring for America. (This change in the Pledge isn’t something that has to be made at the Constitutional level, of course, but I also like the idea of incorporating into the Constitution the notion that you should pledge allegiance to the flag. There are a whole bunch of people out there who think the government owes them worlds of welfare – but won’t even pay the government lip service allegiance. That is ingratitude of the highest order. This portion of the Amendment certainly won’t force anyone to say the Pledge, but it’ll let people know it’s expected. And it’s heartening to think that every morning in school kids will not just be saying something that was written in post-Civil War days as a sort of national reconciliation slogan – they’ll be reciting a portion of the Supreme Law of the Land, reminding themselves that Americans’ true allegiance is to the rule of law, not to race, gender, sexuality, etc.)

The fourth section deals with things that religious people are increasingly being forced to do on pain of job loss, financial hardship, or worse. Whether you like it or not, a person’s religion has things to say – and moral judgments to make – about the most basic concepts in life. What makes a family? Where does human life begin, and when should it properly end? Should a person be allowed to change genders? How should people rightly order their lives in regard to these matters? Lately the government has been trying to stamp secular answers to these questions on the lives of religious people and telling them to get in line or else. Under this Amendment, that won’t continue. Marriage, adoption, artificial reproduction, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, gender “transitioning” – all these matters will be left to individual conscience, not to the judgment of the state.

The last section I added after a couple of heated arguments with “intactivists” — people (male and female alike) who for some reason think that circumcision is the worst thing you could ever do to a male infant. (TMI Alert – I’m circumcised; it isn’t.) Those who are so adamantly opposed to the practice of male circumcision – which is a requirement in Judaism and (in some variants) Islam to make a male a full member of the religious community – have a tendency to display, after some grilling, some serious religious antipathy. And the cries against male circumcision have increased especially in proportion to the outcry against female circumcision (also called female genital mutilation), which, in contrast to male circumcision, has never been shown to possess any health benefits for women. (Doctors say there are both benefits and risks to male circumcision, and on average they lean in favor of circumcising.) Personally, my position on the matter is, “(1) It’s the rite of male entry into Judaism, which puts a special onus on government to respect it under the First Amendment; and (2) given how successful Jews have been as a group wherever they have migrated, how harmful to the male psyche or sex life can it be?” So this last section of the Amendment basically says, “Circumcise your sons or don’t – it’s up to you.”

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The Cultural Bill Of Rights
–CBOR-7Y: The Seven Years Amendment
–CBOR-RF: The Religious Freedom Amendment
–CBOR-2A: The New Second Amendment
–CBOR-CP: The Capital Punishment Amendment
–CBOR-ED: The Eminent Domain Amendment
–CBOR-17: The Senate Restoration Amendment
–CBOR-SC: The Supreme Court Amendment
–CBOR-QV: The Qualified Voters Amendment
–CBOR-AR: The Anti-Reparations Amendment
–CBOR-GS: The Gender Standardization Amendment
–CBOR-MS: The Marriage Standardization Amendment
–CBOR-PM: The Protection of Minors Amendment

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