Note: This op-ed was originally published at Mile High Evening News, and is republished here in its entirety with permission.
A wise person once told me, “In your opposition to a social, religious, or civic evil, don’t focus on ‘treetop’ issues. Go for the root.” In other words – if something is morally wrong, you can trace that wrong to a core issue.
If more Americans understood the foundational issues at play concerning the government’s response to the novel coronavirus, they would likely see what they are truly giving up by going along with things like mandated masks, travel restrictions, and forced or coerced “vaccination.” Perhaps they might even understand this foundational truth: Every human being has a fundamental religious exemption to vaccine mandates.
We must start by asking: What defines religion and religious beliefs? Furthermore, what makes a belief or an action religious in nature? Religion is not simply defined by symbols, beliefs, or institutions that are commonly recognized as sacred. Rather, religion is defined by a person’s foundational beliefs and how they choose to behave in accordance with them. In a free country founded on individual rights, the only legal restriction to one’s religious beliefs or behavior is at the point where their religion encroaches on the same rights found in another person.
Religious freedom – that is, the freedom to believe what you want about anything and conduct yourself in accordance with these beliefs is irremovably linked to all other components of human liberty. Your right to free speech presupposes a right to free thought – the beliefs behind your speech. Your right to own a house or other property presupposes the right to use property in accordance with your beliefs. Your rights to free association and travel presuppose that where you spend your time and who you hang out with is your choice to make. Whether or not you consciously realize it, you always do this in accordance with your fundamental beliefs – your religion. You do these things under the religious belief that you have the authority to make your own choices.
At the fundamental level – behind all of these specific individual rights – is your right over yourself. You have an inalienable right to what you think, what you say, where you go, and what you spend your time doing. The only proper governmental limit on these things is when they are used to deprive another person of their rights. Notice I didn’t say feelings or preferences. For instance, a person has a right to life, but they do not have a right to feel. They do not have a right to feel safe, happy, or comfortable – even as they retain the right to pursue these things. They do not have a right to deny another of their fundamental rights on the basis of subjective preferences. As a nation, we codified this straightforward distinction when in 1964 we legally prohibited discrimination on these preferences.
Generally speaking, a right must exist without necessitating the potential violation of the rights of others. For instance, health care cannot be a right if it requires others to make particular choices in order to provide it. If your idea of health care includes doctors, nurses, or medication, it requires others to make the free decision to provide services and products – usually in exchange for money. If actual rights are indeed self-evident, God-given rights (and I agree with the law of the land that they are), there is a fundamental line – a moral and ethical paradigm – that informs society concerning when a person’s exercise of their rights has encroached on the rights of another.
This is the line that has been moved. This is the most important and fundamental shift behind every immoral and illegal encroachment perpetrated by governments on the people. Unfortunately, this line was moved in the hearts of free citizens. It had to be since we the people are the foundation of all government authority. Government leaders ordinarily do not dare attempt to force this line to move. Instead, authoritarian collectivists (who abhor individual rights) must manipulate the people into handing over their rights, an act that logically and necessarily compromises the rights of every other citizen. They have done this by lying and stoking irrational fear, and by convincing the people that they must give up their rights temporarily in exchange for safety (the common good). They demanded our God-given liberty in exchange for something no one can promise – health and safety. They asked for what was most precious to you in exchange for fool’s gold.
By accepting this shifted line of individual liberty – namely that your personal (and entirely normal) behavior (including medical decisions) even possibly encroaches on the rights of others – your authority over yourself was effectively transferred to others. The justification for this is immaterial – accepting this shift meant the very existence of individual rights was shattered. If any circumstance exists whereby rights can be removed from an individual, then these rights effectively do not exist.
This is the true, godless motivation behind every supposed mitigation, every “temporary” restriction, every word of opposition censored from the public debate, and every strongarming of governmental will by way of private or public sector “health” mandate. The true purpose underpinning all of this evil is to shift the line separating your individual liberty from the authority of others over you. By convincing you that the proper exercise of your individual liberty was under any circumstances a violation of the rights of others, authoritarians have moved the line and placed themselves in the position of ruler over you instead of the delegate of your God-given authority. They have taken your liberties – or more accurately we as a society have given them away. We have accepted this new paradigm of authority, and must now take back what was stolen from us.
The fundamental reason we recognize a right to speak, a right to travel, a right to associate, and a right to religious belief and practice (no matter how crazy someone else thinks your beliefs are) is that your endowed right to life presupposes fundamental authority over yourself. All other rights flow from this authority. If you believe these fundamental truths – these beliefs are part of your religion. Personal liberty is a religious belief that stands in direct opposition to anyone else claiming they have the authority for any reason to make your decisions.
Simply, decisively, and firmly assert this authority. You do not need a religious exemption to vaccination to refuse to take a vaccine. You have a religious objection to ceding your God-given authority over yourself to the will of tyrants. Simply say no.
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