Chicken Leaders and the First Amendment

What do chicken sandwiches and the First Amendment have in common?  August 1, 2012.

Wednesday marked a key date in the implementation of the freedom-offending ObamaCare.  It’s when many organizations and employers were required to begin violating their consciences by providing services that end life rather than affirm it.  Their alternative is to drop healthcare for their employees and pay the fine, or what the Supreme Court now calls a “tax.”   These are private companies and religious organizations we are talking about, most of which receive no federal funding at all.


Already, the Obama Justice department has attempted to give an ultimatum to Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based HVAC business who owners are Catholics and oppose sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, which all would be covered under Obamacare.   If Hercules does not agree to comply with this new mandate, it may be forced to go out of business.

Luckily, in this one case, a Federal District Judge filed an injunction that has temporarily stopped this from happening.

August 1was also “Appreciation Day” for the chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A. The company experienced long lines of customers and record-setting sales as Americans came out to show their support.   The chain has been under intense fire in the national media after its CEO publicly said he believes in the biblical view of family.

The attack on him was led by, among others, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff and Chicago mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, who has said he wants to keep this major employer and purveyor of good chicken sandwiches out of Chicago.  Emmanuel, now Mayor of Chicago, apparently hasn’t read the first part of the First Amendment about the free exercise of religion.

Mayor Emmanuel feels it is critical for the well-being of Chicago that there be no Chick- Fil-As for those who live there.   We must assume that Mayor Emmanuel’s jettisoning of the First Amendment will also apply to other restaurants and businesses owned or influenced by Hispanic, Korean, Polish, Italian, Jewish, and African-American entrepreneurs who also hold to the dictates of their religion or whom agree that the family is the first economy and marriage the bedrock of the family and our society.


Our founders, like John Adams, understood the critical and essential linkage between faith and freedom who once said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through the net.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Key officials of the Obama Administration have already demonstrated that the fact that these businesses also create jobs is not much of a priority either.  Those beholden to the extremists of the Left rather than the founding principles of “inalienable rights” and First Amendment freedoms, intentionally or inadvertently forget what America is all about.

While many liberals may find it inconvenient, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights begins with the most important foundational freedom.  This was no accident and is central to the promise and the exceptional nature of America.  We are to honor our first freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of the majority and minorities to live out – the free exercise of religion.  We have this freedom not only in our personal lives but in the public square as well.  The government will not establish a religion, it will not pick winners and losers, it will instead protect the right of all to believe or not to believe and to practice one’s beliefs in society.


One of the primary tasks for those who honor and treasure religious freedom is to ensure that the religious freedom of those they disagree with philosophically or theologically is protected.  Marginal religious groups are often the test cases for preserving and expanding religious freedom.  We believe in freedom for all.  Around the world religious freedom is often reserved for the majority group, the majority faith—but not for minority faith traditions.  Thanks to the vision and work of our Founders, this is not so in America.

What is particularly remarkable about the attack on religious freedom and conscience today by the Obama Administration is that they are willing to take head-on all religious groups including the majority ones in America like Christianity.  Minorities have often been targeted and thus have been key barometers of freedom in our history, now large or majority religious traditions are being targeted as well. How? Whenever there may be a real, perceived, or fabricated conflict between the interests of their foundational, liberal support groups on abortion or homosexuality, the Left views religious freedom as the lesser right the lesser interest and seeks to persuade America of their view.

They do this by arguing on behalf of the Government in the Supreme Court that there is no ministerial exception at all to preserve religious freedom.  They do this by including in Obamacare that the right to abortion is a more foundational right in the Constitution than the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, even though the Bill of Rights begins with it and liberal Justices only found abortion in the shadows of the Constitution and ignored commonsense and the clarity of the Declaration’s protection of the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  They do this by eliminating meaningful conscience protections for health-care workers and religious organizations.


For some on the Left, Judeo-Christian principles and values are inconvenient, for some irrelevant, and for others they are the enemy.  Yet the principles of human dignity, the inviolability of freedom of conscience, and the positive impact of faith in the public arena throughout our history in the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage movement, education, healthcare, and the civil rights movement were often motivated by and flowed from these same principles and values.

Today, we need moms and dads, citizens, and leaders who will stand up for freedom, including religious freedom.  We need Americans to stand for our inalienable rights, to stand for the vision of the Founders.  To pledge their lives, their honor and their fortunes to stand for liberty, to stand for religious freedom and conscience.  We are at a turning point in America.  Let’s lift our voices together and exercise our First Amendment rights to preserve and pass on the torch of freedom.

Rick Santorum, a former representative and senator from Pennsylvania, ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He is the founder of Patriot Voices, an organization to mobilize one million conservatives committed to promoting faith, family, freedom, and opportunity.




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