The First Amendment of the United States Constitution

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution

ConstitutionThis morning I woke up thinking about the U.S. Constitution. I have often been troubled by the majority understanding of the First Amendment. The modern day understanding of the idea of “Separation of Church and State” stems from how people read the first part of the First Amendment and other documents that are not a part of the U.S Constitution. I also realized that the founding Father’s of the United States made the First Amendment first. Yes, I am the Master of the Obvious. The First Amendment was ratified before the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms) or even the 3rd Amendment (prohibiting soldiers from staying in houses against the home owners wishes). This simple fact shows the weight of the First Amendment. The importance of the content of the First Amendment.

Here is the short and simple text of the First Amendment. If you haven’t ever read it before, you will be surprised by how easy it is to understand. I think we often suspect the Constitution to be really complicated since we have so many ‘interpretations’ of it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So what is being said here?

1. Congress shall make no law that would establish a religion.
—- what this means is that congress by law is unable to create a religion that would be the religion of the United States. (sort of like the Church of England was for England) Basically this means the Government can not and will not ever force you to belong to or practice and given religion. Due to this it is clear that we should not consider the United States an official “Christian Nation”. It would be more accurate to say that there are a lot of Christians in the United States, and we have a Christian heritage but the Government has not and will not ever establish an actual religion for the United States, not even Christianity.

2. Congress shall make no law prohibiting the practice of any religion.
—– this is the portion that I strongly feel is being ignored and left out by a lot of Americans and politicians (yes, I guess the politicians are Americans too…) The First Amendment is clear that the U.S. Government will never, in any way, create a law that would prohibit our free exercise of religion. This should certainly include our right to pray, even publicly, and in a structure built with U.S Tax Dollars. So how many laws should exist that would prohibit anyones free exercise of religion? Zero. This includes laws that would prohibit the free exercise of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and yes even Christianity. Christians should be protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

3. Congress shall make no law that would abridge our freedom of speech.
—– I find this interesting that freedom of speech comes directly after stating that no laws would be created to prohibit religious practice. What this Amendment is saying is that the Government will make no laws that would amend, abridge, or censor what someone says. We can say whatever we want. This would certainly include talk against the government, but also to talk about our faith and religious beliefs. The US Government by the First Amendment can not create any laws that would forbid you from discussing your faith with anyone.

4. Congress shall make no law that would abridge the freedom of speech for the press.
—– Basically this says even the media can say whatever they want. They can publish negative articles about the government, and the government by law can not do anything about it. This would also include writing about faith and religion, literally anything. Freedom of the Press. If the US Government were to ever intervene with the Press to hush a story, the government would be breaking the law.

5. Congress will make no law that would prohibit people from being able to assemble peacefully.
—— This includes Church services, and also would include any other assembly that is not violent. This gives every American the right to be in groups, large or small. We can talk about the Government in those groups, we can talk about faith in those groups, we can assemble in huge gatherings or small. Our Government by law can do nothing to prevent us from assembling regardless of the topic matter as long as we are being peaceful. When we go to the streets with rocks, guns, bats or any other thing that can be used as a weapon we the people are breaking the law. Or if a gathering becomes violent we are breaking the law. We can assemble peacefully, it is our right as Americans.

6. Congress shall make no law that would prohibit people from petitioning the government for grievances.
—— What this means is that if something unjust has occurred, or you feel something is wrong you have ever right to bring those grievances to the government and fully expect to be listened to. Government can not ignore you by law. Our government by design is intended to have interaction and accessibility with and to the American people. This portion of the Amendment ensures every Americans right to have access to be heard.

It is amazing that in one sentence the Founding Fathers were able to make six distinct things very clear. And for the most part our society really likes the First Amendment, as long as we exclude point number two in regards to Christianity. I believe Government has moved into the realm of actually creating laws to prohibit the free exercise of religion and speech by preventing prayer in school and other government buildings on the premise of ‘Separation of Church and State’. My individual freedoms to believe in one religion and talk about that is a right I have through the First Amendment. There is no clause forbidding me from that practice in any building or location. The only thing that the U.S Government is unable to do is institute a religion, they should not be in the business of deciding when or where I can pray or talk about faith.

Those were my thoughts this morning. Have a great day!

Beware of Greyhound!

Beware of Greyhound!

I recently got my backyard fenced in and now I think it is time to put a sign up to warn the neighbors about the ferocious animal that protects my property. Beware of Greyhound

Now I just need to find a company that can make this bigger and turn it into a sign to place on the fence.

Note: Greyhounds are the 2nd fastest land animal, but they are extremely lazy and sleep near 20 hours per day, often on their backs with legs up in the air. This sign is not portraying a ‘dead greyhound’, but a greyhound sleeping or as some say ‘roaching’.

How to Eat Right During the Holidays

How to Eat Right During the Holidays

thanksgiving platter November and December can be an especially difficult time to stick to a diet plan. I know because I am currently on a diet and exercise plan, so I am writing this just as much for myself as anyone else who might be reading this.

Here are my ‘7 Diet Strategies for the Holidays‘:

1. Remain Calm. I have read that stress causes us to eat more food. The stress could come from shopping, family, or anything else. So accept that you may have more stress right now and take a deep breathe and remain calm. It may be easy to eat your way into feeling better, but we both know this really doesn’t work.

2. Reconsider ‘Holiday Foods’. What I mean by this is, swap out the cookies and the cake for things like fruit and nuts. Make it so you don’t always think about cake, cookies, and candy when you think about what you can eat or serve during the Holidays. Changing what we think are appropriate foods will go a long way in helping us to eat right, especially during the Holidays. This way you will also still get to celebrate with food, but it will be much healthier for you.

3. Party You may be thinking that you can’t go to any Christmas parties this year because of your diet. I think if you choose this route you will add more stress to your life and end up eating more. So, get up and head to that party. But make a conscious decision about what you can eat while you are there. Trust me, nobody will notice that you aren’t eating as much as everyone else. You may even want to bring a healthy dish with you to share if you suspect there may be nothing healthy to eat at the party.

4. Remain Active. Time can be a premium during the Holidays. So you need to make sure you are active and make going to the Gym, or working out a high priority. You don’t want to take any ‘time off’. Trust me I learned this the hard way a few years ago. Taking a month or two off will put you back into your old routine and it will be much more difficult to get back to the gym or a workout routine in the future.

5. Accountability If you don’t already have an accountability partner that is helping you eat the right foods and working out, this would be an ideal time to find a friend to help you with this. Holiday foods can be really tempting, and if you don’t have someone who is looking out for you and working with you, you just might start sneaking entire pies, or other foods into your diet secretly. You will then not see the results you are expecting and get frustrated and possibly end up quiting on your diet and or exercise routine. It is OK to admit you might need help from someone.

6. Eat Slowly. When there is a whole table of amazing food in front of you, it is really easy to just start shoving it all into your face as quickly as possible. Don’t do this. Eat slowly. When you eat slower you eat less. When you eat quickly you can get a lot more food into your body. Unless you are on a weight gain diet, I would not recommend this. Eating less needs to be something you are thinking about when at the dinner table.

7. Stay Connected with God If you are like me then your health and diet issues are connected to your relationship with Jesus. I found that my health was a spiritual issue for me. I was involved in gluttony. I admit it. I over-consumed food daily for years. And nobody ever called me on it. So it is easy for us to not see our situation like this. But over-eating is not how God wants me or anyone else to live. So, if you are reforming your ways and getting away from gluttony (as I am), then be in prayer and read your Bible. This will hopefully help you stay focused on God and focused on living for Him with how you live your life.

Global Temperature Changes over the past 4,500 Years.

Global Temperature Changes over the past 4,500 Years.

Here is a simple graph that I found that shows global temperatures over the past 4,500 years.

The graph is simple and to the point, so I won’t say much about it other than to say that I think the science is conclusive. Climate Change happens with or without human interaction. So let the debate continue on about whether or not we can ‘do anything’ about it.

Global Climate Change Chart
Click the Graph for a larger version.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Turkey... Gobble...Gobble...Jaime and I are heading up to Illinois this evening. Well… actually we are flying into Indianapolis and then driving to Illinois.

So I am excited to see my Parents, Sister, Grandparents, Cousins, Uncles, and my Aunt. This is the one time of the year that I get to see everyone since I moved down to Florida. We will also be able to talk more about Adoption with everyone, so we are looking forward to the trip.

Hopefully I won’t gain the average 7 pounds that typical Americans gain over the holidays this year. My Mom has an Ellipitcal Machine that I will be able to use, so that will be good. (I may have to brush the dust off of it though… )

I will write back more after Turkey Day. Have a happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to take a nice long walk after Turkey Dinner instead of falling onto the couch for the rest of the weekend. 🙂