Today, many Americans assert with conviction that freedom of religion means compartmental izing one's faith and removing it from the exchange of ideas regarding public affairs and as an inspiration or reason for acting in public life. Allowing the religious a voice would be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment.
In recent years, the federal government has taken strenuous measures to establish for all a secular faith by shutting down other faiths' participation in public life.
The Justice Department has insisted in federal court that religious organizations violated civil rights law when they hired pastoral staff based on adherence to doctrine.
Private contractors hired by the Defense Department have repeatedly told military personnel they are forbidden from associating with Christian groups opposed to gay marriage.
Private citizens have filed numerous lawsuits across the country insisting that businesses cannot refuse to participate in gay celebrations (usually weddings). The Affordable Care Act insists that all Americans participate in birth control/abortion when there are easy ways to provide for insurance covering same without forcing people to violate their faith.
Christian faith has always sustained the Republic. In the 1730s and 1740s people across all the American colonies experienced what became known as the Great Awakening.
Preachers held revivals calling men and women to repentance and salvation at the foot of Jesus' cross where all men and women of whatever race, color or nationality stood equal before God. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned the colonies' declaration that all men are created equal.
After winning the war, the new Americans accepted the Constitution's creation of a secular government to preserve their liberties. But they adopted the Constitution only after James Madison promised to push through the new national Congress a Bill of Rights to protect first and foremost religious liberty.
He kept his promise, and the states ratified the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, the first words of which read: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Presidents George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson admonished American citizens to live out their Christianity or lose their liberty and their country.
In the United States, faith sustained liberty and liberty sustained faith.
Throughout the nation's history, citizens of faith have sought the preservation and expansion of liberty and the well-being of others, though they often have divided among themselves over what public decisions or actions their faith demanded of them.
After a Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, Christians pushed for more democratic and responsive government, prison reform, education available to all, schools for the handicapped, temperance, women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, people identifying themselves as Christians living out their faith and doing what they understood to be biblically commanded spoke against expanded gambling, for racial justice, for and against abortion rights, for and against gay marriage, for and against particular women's causes, and for the alleviation of poverty.
Today, the United States is nearly unique in the world, even in the West, in allowing freedom of religion and speech even when one's faith and words are an affront to another. Each citizen is free to live out his or faith, to be a witness to his or her faith, to preach the truth as he or she understands it to anyone who will listen; and each person is free to listen or not, to agree or disagree.
This is the legacy of Christian Americans insisting on liberty of conscience.
In reality, denying men's and women's ability to assert truth according to their understanding or faith or to vote as they believe is a denial of religious freedom.
This denial shuts down debate by defining and limiting what speech is permissible and abolishes pluralism in favor of a governmentally enforced secular orthodoxy that disdains true liberty and dissent. It is the government violating the Constitution by establishing its own religion.