Here is how some members of our Facebook community responded to the question, "What does religious freedom mean to you?"

William Brooks:
I once heard a pastor speak on religious liberty and its meaning, and since then, I have claim this meaning for myself."Religious liberty means, I am free worship as I please, or to go fishing." To me, we have the freedom to do as we please and that is what makes this county great.
Patti Cottrell Grant:
In order for Freedom of Religion to survive in the 21st Century we must recognize its ongoing assault by religious extremists.It is no longer enough to practice their religion as they see fit, they aggressively claim the right to determine how other people live. Case in point: the $20 million injected into California's Prop. 8 political process by out-of-state churches who simultaneously deny any conflict with their tax-exempt status.For the first time in American history a law has been passed that allows one group of people to take away the rights of another group of people with whom they disagree. While the present statute relates specifically to same-sex marriage, the legal precedent can transfer to other issues, including religious freedom.

Look to our own history. Within a few years of coming to America the Puritans established a tax-supported State religion in which only church members in good standing could run for public office, and ministers were paid by the State (Library of Congress). Predictably, religious persecution ensued, including the infamous witch trials and fatal assaults on dissident ministers.

Consequently, in the late 1780s all 13 States voted in favor of deleting any reference to God from the U. S. Constitution, although only nine States were required for Ratification. The First Amendment codifies this freedom in law.

Scott Ritsema :
Religious Freedom: "Belief and practice completely according to one's own conscience and preference that is limited by the force of government only to the extent that one's religious practice represents an act of actual aggression against another individual's person or property."In other words, freedom is best defined as the absence of government except in defense of property rights. Persuasion, contracting, and every other form of human thought, speech, and practice is left alone. Since government itself is violent force, it is only justly employed in defense against acts of aggression.    (Read more from Scott at CivicsNews.com)

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