The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ” The framers of the Bill of Rights did not want any denomination or religion adopted as the country’s religion, so Laurence Houlgate is correct in his letter (“No place for faith,” Sept. 14) that the amendment allows people to embrace no religion if they so choose.
What he ignores is the second phrase, which permits those who are religious to follow the precepts of that religion in their lives. And that is what Houlgate and other “progressives” really object to.
In a “progressive” world, Christians who followed their conscience in their daily lives would be removed from public office and denied licenses as pharmacists if they refused abortifacients, as physicians if they refused abortions, as small-business owners (bakers, florists, photographers), if they refused to participate in gay marriages, though many others were available to perform such duties.
The best we can say of the progressive vision is that, if they succeed, one pesky part of the First Amendment will have been redacted, and the public will be served fast food by a highly educated work staff who used to be office holders, pharmacists, etc.