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Public Statements

Moving Ahead For Progress In The 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, I thank the Senator very much.

Fellow Senators, I am going to speak briefly on this issue, and I thank those who have actually put this on the table for us to talk about.

Every single American should watch the debate on this issue. This debate strikes to the heart of the freedoms we as Americans enjoy. Why do we have these freedoms? We have them because in 1776 the people decided they were sick and tired of the King telling them they had to do this and they had to do that and had totally wiped out a number of freedoms they had--not the least of which was speech and religion.

We will remember, these people operated under a King who was so powerful--the Monarchy was so powerful, it established a religion and said: You must belong to this religion if you are a citizen of this country.

When we fought to be free of that, when we fought to be a free people, the Founding Fathers put together a document that specified very clearly the freedoms we would have.

We have come many years since then, but we will lose these freedoms if we do not guard them when even a little chip comes out of it. That is what they are doing here. Think about this for a minute. We have gotten to the point where this government has gotten so big and so powerful that it has said: Look, we do not care about what you believe in your religion because what we are doing is a good thing and, therefore, you must do what we are telling you because the ends justify the means--the means is to chip away at the religious freedoms we as Americans enjoy.

It is wrong. It is the way we lose our freedoms. If we turn our back and let a government do this to us, this is how we lose our freedoms.

This government is big. It is getting bigger by the day. It is getting more powerful by the day. When they sat around the table in 1776, they had just fought with a government that had been terribly oppressive. They argued amongst themselves: Well, what are we going to do? We are going to create a government.

They knew from a historical perspective, and they knew from their recent experience, that any government they create needed to be distrusted, needed to be watched, needed to have shackles on it because if they did not, that government would abuse them--just as every government had throughout history.

So that is why they drew the document we live under today, the Constitution we have. They not only gave us one government, they gave us three governments. They gave us a legislative branch, an executive branch, and a judicial branch--each with the duty to watch the other and beat the other over the head if, indeed, they got out of line. They were so afraid of a government that they did everything they possibly could to see that government did not abuse them.

Well, we learn frequently that their fears were well founded. Today we see, once again, their fears were well founded. What we have is a government that is saying: We do not care what your religious beliefs are; you must do what we are telling you to do because we think it is the right thing to do regardless of your religious beliefs.

It is wrong. It has to be fought. It must be reversed.

I thank the Senator for bringing this issue to the attention of everyone.

I yield the floor.


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