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What price freedom of conscience?


What price freedom of conscience?
In recent weeks, the freedoms provided by the US constitution’s first amendment have come under fire in such diverse places as Walkerton, Indiana, and Garland.
Freedom of speech was threatened by jihadists in Garland, while freedom of religion was flouted by the politically correct in Walkerton. Such developments spell danger for our republic if we are to remain a constitutional democracy.
For caricaturing their prophet, two radical jihadists sought to murder a host of contestants.
The US supreme court asserted, in its Westboro decision, that free speech must be protected – no matter how repugnant.
Indeed, if Andres Serrano’s picture of a crucifix immersed in urine, as well as a depiction of the Virgin Mary surrounded by elephant dung, qualified for constitutional protection, the first amendment cannot provide a right to avoid offense.
Otherwise, it loses its value as a bulwark of liberty, and the absolute freedom to speak one’s mind unfettered by political correctness would vanish from American society.
When Memories Pizza’s owner came under fire for saying his religious beliefs would prevent him from cater homosexual weddings, the collision of religiously-informed conscience and political correctness reached critical mass. The religious-freedom-restoration act, signed by president Bill Clinton, sought to ensure that the first amendment’s “free exercise” clause would remain a force for freedom of conscience.
When secularists extol tolerance as a prime necessity, they reveal their utter hypocrisy by their intolerance of Christian beliefs. To seek the oppression of such beliefs is antithetical to liberty in America and people of all faiths should realize the danger posed by those who are nothing more than “thought police”.
As freedom of conscience dies, so does civilization itself.
Ron Domel
Texas City
Feds’ EPA must toe the line
I regularly challenge the federal environmental protection agency and its costly regulations. This week in the US house of representatives, I offered an amendment to the interior-and-EPA-appropriations bill that would require the agency to follow the law and conduct ongoing evaluations of how its regulations impact American jobs. The amendment passed by voice vote on Wednesday night.
I also questioned EPA administrator Gina McCarthy on the agency’s costly regulations during a full hearing by the house’s science, space and technology committee on Thursday.
The EPA has a track record of unelected bureaucrats pushing regulations without truly understanding the impact these rules have on our job creators. Since 2009, our job creators have faced an onslaught of regulations from the EPA, even as the US congress has consistently reduced the agency’s budget year after year.
It is unacceptable for presidents or EPA administrators to cherry-pick the law based on their own ideological agenda.
Randy Weber
Member for Texas district 14,
US house of representatives
Washington, DC

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