More than 40% of Americans cannot name even one of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. Only 36% of those surveyed could name even one freedom. Some Americans think there are only three freedoms guaranteed. Actually, we have five freedoms in the First Amendment. Can you name them? If not, let’s get after it together. This week, I will be teaching The Bill of Rights to my adult US Constitution students. Why not review our First Amendment freedoms right along with us? Here are the basics that I teach everyday Americans so they can know their rights and where they can be found in the Constitution.
Freedom of Religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” My best understanding of this Establishment Clause is this: If Congress didn’t make a law establishing a religion (e.g., The United States Church of Christ), then you are free to practice your faith-or, not at all. Congress can’t establish a national religion according to the Constitution. Therefore, you are free to exercise your beliefs in accordance with your conscience.
Freedom of Speech: Speech is protected generally. Some speech does not fall under the protection of the First Amendment, like speech that is a clear and present danger to our national security and safety or speech that incites crime or violence. Freedom of Speech requires that we tolerate speech we don’t necessarily consent to or plainly just don’t like.
Freedom of the Press: Freedom of Speech is extended to the media.
Freedom to Assemble Peaceably: Property damage, murder, destruction of property are not protected by the First Amendment.
Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances: The idea that we can present our government authorities with our complaints, desires, etc. goes all the way back to the Declaration of Independence when this was not allowed by King George III. You know the result of that!
You may disagree with my explanation of these rights, but at a minimum, you are now able to name the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. BTW: The Bill of Rights contains the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Knowing your rights is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship! ??