Home Letters & Opinions First Amendment Freedom to Speak Out Extends to All

First Amendment Freedom to Speak Out Extends to All

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Joe Males | Courtesy Photo of AML Post 53

In an op-ed piece which appeared recently in the HSJ Chronicle, senior writer Rusty Strait asks, “Church or Political Podium” regarding a community event which was held at 412 Church San Jacinto on the evening of Wednesday 8, 2021.

I have great respect for anyone who can string together words to form communicative sentences. Rusty has that ability. However, even talented writers can be wrong on some of their points.

Such is the case for Rusty as in the first sentence of his op-ed he states, “According to the U.S. Constitution, there is an explicit separation between Church and State.” Even though this statement is often made and believed to be a fact by many, the so-called separation of church and state is a myth and is not part of the U.S. Constitution.

Is church and state mentioned in the U.S. Constitution? Yes. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” What this tells us is that Congress cannot establish a state-run church such as England had and they cannot prohibit a church from meeting. There is no clause in the U.S. Constitution which prohibits anyone, including pastors, from criticizing public policy that they disagree with.

Rusty states that the meeting was billed as a town hall meeting but, in his opinion, it was not. He has a point, but does that matter? The fact is that the meeting was open to the general public and over five hundred community members were in attendance, each having a pretty good idea of what the meeting was going to be about.

Why is that important? For right or wrong, the fact is that many in our community are very disappointed with our public schools. As public-school districts institute curriculum and public policy that more and more parents find objectionable, the result is that more and more parents want their children out of the public schools and the idea of School Choice begins to look very attractive to them.

The leader of the meeting was a local pastor; however, no one was cowardly hiding behind a Christian Front as Rusty suggested. Both as a pastor and a parent with children in the local public schools, this pastor has both the right and the responsibility to voice his support for, or opposition to, public policy, which is put in place in our community.

Rusty may not have agreed with the opinions expressed at the meeting, I don’t think less of him for that, but it was obvious that most all the rest in attendance agreed as the speakers were met by applause and not boos.

Dale Dieleman | Hemet

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