A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The sign is little, the message big

Written July 13th, 2016 by Hasso Hering


Does the First Amendment need defending, as this yard sign in front of the offices of St. Mary’s Parish in Albany urges us to do? Yes, it does, because the bedrock freedoms it guarantees are under constant and increasing attack.

I noticed several signs like this for the first time Wednesday, though they may have been around for a while. What’s the story, I wondered. The lady in the parish office referred me to Ron Hendricks, head of the Albany Council of the Knights of Columbus. It is that national Catholic organization that’s behind the campaign.

The group’s main interest, naturally, is the protection of religious liberty. A resolution passed at the Knights’ national convention in Philadelphia in August 2015 makes the telling point that religious freedom is not a benefit granted by a tolerant government, to be removed when tolerance ebbs, “but rather it is an inalienable right, rooted in the transcendent dignity of every human being.”

Moreover, it is not merely the right to have religious thoughts or the right to private worship. Instead, as Pope Francis has put it, it is “the right to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.”

The right to act publicly according to one’s religious convictions is often under attack in Oregon and elsewhere. Just think of the $130,000 fine Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian imposed on the Gresham couple that declined, on religious grounds, to participate in a same-sex wedding by making a special cake. Or remember the federal government’s attempt to force Catholic organizations to support abortions through the Affordable Care Act,

The First Amendment is about more than religious liberty. It’s also about freedom from compulsory or state-imposed religion, a concept that has been stretched in recent decades to ridiculous extremes, as though merely being exposed to a religious thought in a public event amounts to some kind of state religion.

And let’s not forget the other freedoms in that all-important amendment. Free speech. Freedom of the press, and of assembly, and the right to petition for redress of our grievances. All these are fundamental. And all are in more or less constant jeopardy from officious officials high and low. So, defend the First Amendment? Yes indeed! (hh)

13 responses to “The sign is little, the message big”

  1. Rhea Graham says:

    Thank you, Hasso! I contacted a reporter at the “news” paper … on June 26th, and well – as you may have guessed there hasn’t been any article yet.

  2. Jim Clausen says:

    And, with a tyrannical government, without the 2nd Amendment, you can not defend the 1st…

    • Bob Woods says:

      So the constitution that established a democratic republic, one that has stood the test of time, the nation that people throughout the world look to for refuge from the dictators and killers who rule in so many places, is “tyrannical”.

      You right-wing nut jobs are exactly the people who enable the dictators of the world. You want a strongman to cleanse the country of those that disagree with you and to impose a vague “return to they way we used to be,”

      The only thing tyrannical in this country is your incessant babble on the need to overthrow our constitution and freely elected government.

  3. hj.anony1 says:

    The sign may be “little” but it is there. And there are 6 …ok seven or more of them along the two blocks heading south. I’ve seen them planted for more than 3 to 4 weeks. So great Blog tonight HH!

    One would hope this prompts many entires in the comment sections.

  4. Tony White says:

    Thank you, Hasso. In memory of our Founding Fathers and the generations to come, Thank you. We would not be the nation we are – with weaknesses and strength – without our Constitution.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    O.K., I see the point to some degree. Much, perhaps too much at times, has been “inferred” from this amendment to suit the one claiming the right. A street saying comes to mind…”Don’t make checks with your mouth that your derriere can’t cover!” Could that be why we have two ears & only one mouth? It seems that often the mouth starts going before the brain is engaged. Listening seems to have been a lost art while mouthing off is now in vogue! JE

  6. Warren Beeson says:

    Back in the day it was the “classical liberals” who were in the forefront of defending 1st Amendment rights. But now the situation is different in that it is those of the “Progressive”/Democrat Party who are attacking this most basic of our freedoms.. It is Democrats in the U.S. Senate who voted to eliminate this 1st Amendment which is essential to a functioning democratic society. Even now, having been stopped by a Republican majority, they are pressing the issue again. In the next election if they retake the Senate, this looms as a major threat. If Hillary is elected President, you can be sure she will appoint a “Progressive” Supreme Court justice who will support the elimination of our 1st Amendment rights. The irony is that those who used to speak for our natural rights are now leading the efforts to deprive us of those very same rights.

  7. hj.anony1 says:

    I really thought this HH-Today blog entry would force more fingers on to keyboards or tap on screen devices. Hasso, are they in the queue?

    Time to be blunt.

    In these days of terror overseas & days of religious extremism, it is time to end the tax exemption status of the Church. Disagree? Blast away. In words only please. By ending this status, we can fix a few roads Albany.

    • Jim Engel says:

      With a mere tapping of “fingers on a keyboard” hj.anony1 proclaims his caliphate! Why stop at churches? Every fraternal & social group claiming tax exempt status. AND, let’s do away with itemized deductions on taxes to! Albany could pave its streets & future promenades with gold!. JE

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Caliphate …hmmm…way above my pay grade JE. Good one!!!

        I am serious that this should be considered though.


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