A Message from Martinsburg
By Rev. Larry Thompson,
Pastor Martinsburg Church in Bruin
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press… .” With this powerful and unprecedented declaration in 1787, the framers of the U.S. Constitution established, for perpetuity, the inalienable right of free speech (and expression) to the American people and the American press. Freedom of this nature and magnitude was unheard of in the world of 1787.
Freedom of speech is the temporal underpinning of America’s bold and enduring experiment in liberty and self-government. With it, we are enlightened citizens of freedom and individual liberty. Without it, we are mere subjects, shackled in the dark bondage of tyranny and authoritarianism. With it, a free press functions as a “watchdog” of freedom and individual liberty. Without it, the press becomes nothing more than a willing messenger of government dictate and corruption.
In America today, the freedom of speech and of the press, as envisioned by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, is coming under increased and sustained assault. This should not be.
All the freedoms we have in this country, including the freedoms of speech and of the press, come not from the intellect and pen of man, but by the breath and will of Almighty God. Because of this, we are to strive to be good stewards of all the temporal freedoms that God has bestowed upon us and our nation.
One thing is abundantly clear, if attempts to limit secular speech in America continue and ultimately succeed, efforts to limit and control of religious speech, will soon follow. The battle, therefore, to protect free speech and a free press in America, is as much spiritual as it is secular and political.
While we live in a nation that honors the freedom of all religion, we cannot lose sight of the fact, that our spiritual heritage is grounded solidly in the foundation of the Judeo-Christion tradition, in all matters of religion and faith. Indeed, our Judeo-Christian heritage is intricately woven into the very “DNA” of America’s historical, cultural and religious fabric. To deny this, is to embark on a journey of historical “blindness” and intellectual “dishonesty.”
Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, said it best: “ I believe that every problem in the world today could be solved if men would only live by the principles of the ancient prophets and the Sermon on the Mount.”