Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Madam Speaker, I rise in defense of the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
Thomas Jefferson once asked:
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?
The clear answer is no.
If freedom of religion is not protected in the very places where laws are crafted, how can we expect the laws enacted to respect each individual's freedom of religion?
As a pastor and a chaplain, I believe that freedom of religion isn't some mere abstract concept to be debated in the Halls of Congress or before the Supreme Court. Religious freedom gave me the ability to preach God's word in Georgia, and religious freedom allowed me to give faith-based encouragement to soldiers while I served alongside them in Iraq.
It is a precious liberty our Founders fought and died to protect, and I will not allow freedom and free exercise of religious liberties to be undermined here or anywhere.