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Public Statements

Freedom of Conscience

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JORDAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and thank you for your leadership on this most fundamental, most basic of issues.

You think about the folks who started this place, this experiment in freedom we call America. In Europe they said you have to practice your faith a certain way. And they said, No, we don't, and we're willing to risk it all. We'll get on a boat and risk everything and practice our faith the way we think the good Lord wants us to. And they did. They risked everything to come here for that fundamental principle.

This experiment in freedom we call America, the greatest nation in history, was founded on that simple, yet basic and profound principle.

The document that started it all--it's probably been talked about, I haven't been here for the whole hour--but the document that started it all, the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

The document that started this experiment in freedom started with this simple concept that there is a Creator, and that's where we derive our rights from. Not gifts from government, not grants from government, but gifts from the Creator. Gifts from God. And here's why this is so important: because this attack on this basic and most fundamental principle is not isolated.

Think about what we are witnessing in this country today regarding so many of your liberties. Start with the one we are talking about tonight, the most basic, your First Amendment right to practice your faith the way you think the good Lord wants you to. There is an attack on our First Amendment religious liberty rights. But there is also a First Amendment attack on freedom of the press. We now know that what this Justice Department did relative to Mr. Rosen, First Amendment attack on freedom of the press. There is a violation, an attack on your First Amendment rights to free speech, political speech, as evidenced by the IRS issue. There are attacks on your Second Amendment rights. And as we just learned this past week, potentially your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

So this is critical because this is the issue that started it all, but it's also critical when viewed in context, when viewed in the overall attack on freedom, the overall attack on the Constitution, the overall attack on the Bill of Rights. And that's why I applaud the gentleman from Nebraska for his leadership, and as he well said, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Lipinski) on the other side of the aisle, who understands these basic principles and basic freedoms, and how central they are to the American experience and to what we call the United States of America.


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