Writing Homework Twelve Student Two

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The Fight for Religious Liberty [EXCELLENT TITLE]

by Alexa W

In 1634 a group of Catholics and Protestants alike landed in Southern Maryland in hope of a new life. These settlers came from England with the intent of establishing a free religious land. Due to the threats of the newly established church of England, these people wanted the right to exercise their religion in the way they thought was fitting and in accordance with the practices of their church. The struggle was not easy, but these men and women of faith persisted in their work. The early settlers and Founding Fathers of America went to great lengths to establish our religious liberties. Our country does indeed owe everything to these vigilant people. If it was not for their courageous efforts, America might not contain the God-given-gift of religious freedom which the world is in desperate need of today. Many people from around the world look to America and yearn for the sense of freedom which we have received. In order to better understand the importance of the Fore Fathers [ONE WORD: "Forefathers"] actions and the precious gifts which we possess, the history of the founding of America must be examined.


The 1500's were a time of great social and moral upheaval in England. In 1529 King Henry VIII decided to break away from the Catholic Church because the Pope would not approve of his intended divorce. The king's current wife, Queen Catherine of Argon, was the wife of King Henry's deceased brother. The Pope had already given the king a dispensation in order to marry his sister-in-law. And after all that trouble, Queen Catherine was unable to render the king a male child. Because of this, King Henry wanted to remarry another woman who would hopefully be able to bear him a son. The Catholic Church under normal circumstances does not permit a married couple to divorce and thus the Pope refused to grant the king permission and acceptance. This action taken by the Pope angered the king tremendously. Because of this, King Henry broke away from the Catholic Church and founded his own church, the Anglican Church. King Henry VIII then established his church as the official Church of England. Many English citizens, Catholic and Protestant, were very alarmed and bothered by this new action taken by their king. Now the king had the power to tell his subjects how, when and what to worship. The main reason it daunted the English people was because the king thought that he could force his subjects to practice the same unified religion. King Henry VIII now had the right to infringe upon the God given rights of his people.


As the years went by and King Henry's descendants took to the throne, the rules and regulations on people of different religions became intolerable. Many people of different religious denominations decided to leave their home country of England and set off for a new world. One man who thought this way was an Englishman named Lord Baltimore. He sought out a place where people of all religions, especially Catholics, could live in peace and freedom. The king at the time, King Charles I, granted a tract of land in the newly discovered America to Lord Baltimore and his companions in 1632. Many settlers came to America with the same ideas Lord Baltimore had. In fact most of the colonies in the new world were started with the intent of granting religious tolerance. However, most of these colonies granted religious freedom only to those of their own particular religion. For example, the Puritans, who lived in Massachusetts, were very unwelcoming to the Catholic people. Puritans would drive out and sometimes even kill people who were of a different religion. Due to all of these facts, Lord Baltimore wanted a place where he and his fellow Catholics could worship God. Lord Baltimore named this colony Maryland after the Mother of Jesus. Thus the first settlement to render religious freedom for all was formed.


Maryland grew to become a well [AWKWARD WORD CHOICE "WELL", AND REPETITIVE WITH THE USE OF "WELL" LATER IN THE SENTENCE] and prosperous colony granting religious freedoms to not just Catholics but to Jews as well as protestants. People of many different faiths and religious backgrounds were able to come to Maryland to have a safe place to worship. In 1649 Maryland codified an act which enabled people of different faiths to live together peacefully under the law. The Act Concerning Religion, or more popularly known as the “Toleration Act[NEED COMMA HERE]” became the first law in our nation's history to protect an individual's right to freedom of conscience. Unfortunately this experiment with religious toleration ended within a few decades. In the year following the Glorious Revolution in 1688, a man named John Coode led a Protestant rebellion that expelled Lord Baltimore from power in Maryland. The colony was then placed under royal control and the Church of England became the established religion. Catholic chapels closed, and the Catholic people were restricted in their religious practices. The Catholics and some Protestants lived under this compulsion until the American Revolution.


When the American people won their independence from Britain in 1783 the founding fathers sought a way to establish a nation which was governed by the people and for the people. Many of the Nation's Founding Fathers were firm in their ideas of acknowledging religion and the importance of God in the world. Consequently John Adams [NOPE - HE WAS AWAY IN ENGLAND AT THE TIME], Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson [NOPE - JEFFERSON HAD NO ROLE IN THE CONSTITUTION] and James Madison created what is know ["NOW", NOT "KNOW", AND REPETITIVE WITH "TODAY" ANYWAY] today as the most accomplished and well[NEED HYPHEN]ordered invention in the history of man kind [ONE WORD, NOT TWO: "MANKIND"]: the Constitution of the United States of America. This political feat was and still is the most wondrous and comprehensive form of governance the world has ever seen. Not only did the Fore Fathers [FOREFATHERS] create a document which has held America together for so many years, they also acknowledged and safeguarded the natural and inalienable rights of the American people. Certain things like the writ of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and free speech are just a few liberties which the Constitution grants to the American people.


One part of the Constitution which is particularly important to Americans is the Bill of Rights. This is an attachment which lays out all the individual freedoms of the people. There were originally Ten Amendments when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, but today there are twenty-seven. The First Amendment is by far one of the most powerful and important aspects of the Bill of Rights. This amendment contains what is known as the Free Exercise Clause. This clause states that "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. This means that the government does not have the right to interfere with matters of the Church. If churches only want to ordain male priests and ministers, then the Nation has no authority to tell them otherwise. If citizens, for religious reasons, do no [NOT] agree with a certain medical issue or procedure then they do not have to become involved with it or even give their consent to it. The Free Exercise Clause is so important to this country. Because the religious freedom has the distinction of being the First amendment, Religious Liberty is indeed the first independence.


Religious liberty is something which is so unique and special to this country alone. No other country in the world has the freedoms which we have. The Founding Fathers were gifted with knowledge from God when they drafted our legislative system. The Constitution is just overflowing with individual privileges stemming from the natural law. Because religious liberty is the first freedom in America, people need to realize the value and importance it has in our society. If our most important rights are violated by the government, what makes anyone think that government leaders are going to keep the rest of our liberties intact? If they can remove the most precious of the people's rights, what would stop them from ripping apart the rest of the Constitution? The people of America need to keep a strong and fervent watch over their religious freedoms. For just like the early English settlers of Maryland, we need to understand that religious liberty is worth fighting for.

Today there is a reason why the United States has a continuing influence in the world. People of other countries see the rights which our government grants to its people and the citizens of other nations want to be a part of it. America has become the land of the free and the home of the brave because of religious liberty. Our country was founded primarily on this principle. The early English settlers brought this concept to America before it was even a nation. The Founding Fathers recognized the needs of the people and the God-given rights of the people. Thus they established freedom of religion for all. Religious liberty is so important to our nation and we the people of the United States of America need to realize that God is indeed a part of our country and that religion is a necessary part of our Constitution. For without it, there could be no America, and without America there could be no freedom for all.