Monday, April 2, 2012

Constitution Course

You may be interested in Hillsdale College's free on-line course on the U.S. Constitution.   Go here.  There will be a total of  10 lectures, each about 40 minutes in length, which you can access at any time.  Each lecture has accompanying readings (posted for our convenience), a Q&A session and a quiz.  I'm particularly fond of the quizzes which you can take until you get an A.  

Lecture 6 treats the matter of religious freedom and every reading addresses the current controversy over the HHS mandate, Obama's calculated strikes at the Church and religious liberty as well as the frequent cry by those who mis-understand what is meant by the separation of church and state.  The Virginia Declaration of Rights, section 16 says:
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
Notice the words 'according to the dictates of conscience.'

In Madison's On Property, read first his definition of property and then what he has to say about freedom of religion: 

Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.
  Madison goes on in a kind of humorous vein to protest heavy-handed government seizing property:
What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favor his neighbour who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!

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