Bryan Fischer: First Amendment Only Applies to Christians
According to American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer, the First Amendment only constitutionally protects Christians. If you happen to be a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Satanist, a Pagan, an Atheist or a believer in any other religious system you’re out of luck. Speaking specifically on the request by a group of Satanists who want to install a monument in Oklahoma (to accompany the Christian Ten Commandments monument that’s already been approved), Fischer argued on his program that use of the word ‘religion’ in the First Amendment actually only meant Christianity – so anyone using ‘religion’ to mean their specific religion is wrong. (Perhaps he’s confused and is thinking of how people in the deep south use the word ‘Coke’ to mean soda.)
“At the time of the founding, 99.8% of the population of the colonies were Christians. The other 0.2% were Jews,” Fischer said. “But the point is, by ‘religion’ the founders were thinking of Christianity. So the purpose was to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith. It wasn’t about protecting anything else.”
“They weren’t providing any cover or shelter for the free exercise of Islam or even Judaism or even atheism. They weren’t saying you can’t do it — I want to be clear on that — they weren’t prohibiting that, they were just saying that is not what we are talking about here,” he continued.
Moving back to his argument against the Satanic monument at the Oklahoma statehouse, Fischer referred to the Ten Commandments monument and how the Satanists are “misreading” the First Amendment since its protections were never meant to cover them in the first place.
“Here is where the definition of the word religion becomes absolutely critical,” Fischer said. “If by ‘religion’ the founders meant Christianity, then you can ban a monument to Satan because that is not Christianity. But if by ‘religion’ you mean any system of belief, whether it is Christian or not, then you have no way to tell the Satanists you can’t have your monument.”
While he takes the wrong road to arrive there, Fischer actually made a valid and pertinent point: if ‘religion’ is defined as any system of belief, Satanists cannot be denied by law. Unfortunately for Fischer, the courts have never defined ‘religion’ in the United States as being the exclusive domain of one belief system – not even at the inception of the country. Even the founding fathers themselves hailed from conflicting religious belief systems. According to Britannica (since it’s as close to a non-partisan, non-biased source as you can possibly get on these matters), “Franklin and Jefferson were deists, Washington harbored a pantheistic sense of providential destiny, John Adams began a Congregationalist and ended a Unitarian, Hamilton was a lukewarm Anglican for most of his life but embraced a more actively Christian posture after his son died in a duel.”
Putting aside the notion that a group of white males who owned slaves and denied women the right to vote should have the ultimate say on religion in 2013, Fischer defeats his own argument. We do not live in a Christian theocracy, we do not model laws based on the Bible, and we do not define religion as being grammatically-interchangeable with Christianity. Therefore, we should all take Fischer’s advice and support the Satanic monument in Oklahoma since the First Amendment’s religious protections call for it.
Video of Fischer’s remarks is below: