by Mary Jane Fritzen
When visiting Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts one Thanksgiving Day , I studied Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, by William Bradford, a Pilgrim leader. Another delightful book about the Pilgrims by the Pilgrims was Saints and Strangers by George F. Willison (1945). In his introduction, Willison explains that Pilgrims and Puritans are generally confused in the popular mind. He wrote, “It is about time, I think, that the Pilgrims were allowed to tell their story. . . in their own words. . . They wrote marvelous letters, as fresh and crisp today as when penned three centuries ago. Though relatively few, their chronicles are remarkably rich in the very stuff of human life.”
Only by ignoring their story could one assume that the Pilgrim Fathers did not come for religious freedom. Nor could one believe that our Founders didn’t intend to preserve that freedom.
While awaiting the birth of my first child in 1971, I re-read One Small Candle, The Pilgrims’ First Year in America, by Thomas J. Fleming (1963). When our daughter Anny was born on September 17, Constitution Day, I rejoiced doubly, for the birth of Anny and for the promise of religious freedom in the U. S. Constitution. As the Post Register publishes daily, the First Amendment provides Congress will establish no Church, but will not prohibit the free exercise of religion.
Appreciating our heritage, I like to learn about our founders from their own accounts. David McCullough, biographer, stated it this way: “Nobody lived in the past, if you stop to think about it. Jefferson, Adams, Washington—they didn’t walk around saying ‘Isn’t this fascinating, living in the past?’ They lived in the present just as we do. The difference was it was their present, not ours. And just as we don’t know how things are going to turn out for us, they didn’t either.”
When we are defending Religious Liberty, we are confronted with a judicial system interpreting our U. S. Constitution in two ways—(1) as it was originally intended or (2) as a living document which evolves over time. When the Supreme Court issued its Obergefell ruling last year, by a margin of one, Chief Justice Roberts strongly dissented, saying that this ruling “has nothing to do with the Constitution.” Justice Scalia recently told a Rhodes College audience that judges who believe the Constitution is a living document are rewriting the founding document and making moral decisions for the entire country about same-sex marriage and other issues.
President Obama overlooks the vital Constitutional intent for Congress to make the laws, the president to execute the laws, and the judiciary to interpret the laws. Failing to defend Congress’s “Defense of Marriage Act,” Obama advocated for same-sex marriage. Speaking recently to members of the LGBT community, a major source of his political and financial support, he said that freedom of religion isn’t reason enough to deny any American their constitutional rights.( Washington Post 27 Sep. 2015)
To some of us the views of Roberts, Scalia and others are more honest. Freedom of religion, not “equality of marriage”, is a Constitutional right. If you really put yourself in the position of Washington, Madison, and other founders, do you think they would redefine marriage or agree with Obama that same-sex marriage brings this country closer to our founding ideals?
Mary Jane Fritzen is an 84-year old powerhouse and font of wisdom. She’s an articulate and dedicated supporter of the family. Mary Jane lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho.