Paying attention to religious news lately has made me aware of an unsettling notion some people have about free speech when it comes to religion. There seem to be some people in this country who believe that since America was founded by fundamentalist christians (according to them and not actual history), christianity is the default setting for government and thus it is only natural to have christian monuments and symbols on government property and christian language in laws. Ergo, any attempt to prevent them from putting their religious symbols and language on government property or into laws is a violation of their free speech and freedom of religion. I had a civics teacher in middle school who used to always say “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins”, in essence, one person’s rights ends when it starts to infringe on another person’s rights. For instance, it might be some Mormon fundamentalist’s religion to marry and rape multiple young girls, but his right to freedom of religion ends when he violates those girls’ rights.
You have the right to practice your religion any time, any place you want, as long as you do not infringe on other people’s rights. You have the right to build houses of worship on private property and put up whatever signs you want on that property. You have a right to pray to yourself in school any time you want. You have the right to stand on public property and protest, holding religious signs. The government has no right to stop you from any of these activities, as long as you are not infringing on the rights of others. You do not, however, have the right to force your beliefs onto the government that is supposed to represent everyone equally. Erecting a cross on a public land, putting the 10 commandments in a public courthouse, or trying to brand the government with your faith is not one of your rights.