We All Have a Right
I’m writing in reaction to Ellen Kessner’s April 16 letter “Has Crossed the Line” concerning Ambassadors for Christ’s paid advertisement. I believe it helpful to state the relevant language from our U.S. Constitution: “Amendment I—Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”
We all have a right to speak. We may not agree with each other. We may not like what each other says. We may not think what each other says is wise, or safe, or factual, or fair. Nonetheless, we all have the right to say what we think and believe. I suggest looking for the kernel of truth in what each other says.
The amazing, perhaps ironic, thing about free speech is that it allows for incremental, well-vetted, constructive progress. It allows for an exchange of ideas and viewpoints. And, if we’re all opened-minded and curious enough, it promotes learning, understanding, and sympathy. If we try to thwart or stop it, it promotes ignorance and bias leading to one-sided, unbalanced, unstable solutions.
The quote Kessner cited and attributed to Ambassadors for Christ is actually from the Bible. In fact, upon inspection, almost all of Ambassadors for Christ’s paid advertisements are simply a collection of biblical quotes. The reality is, there are a lot of people around the world who take great solace and comfort in biblical teachings. If you’ve ever spent time reading the bible, you’d understand that the words and phrases are infinitely profound and soar way beyond their literal interpretation. The beauty of our First Amendment is, you’re not forced to believe a word of it.