When freedom of religion crosses over into a failure to appreciate our Constitution

 Fr. Ernesto posted this analysis of how freedom of religion can become a problem. I, also, as have every person who have entered our armed forces, taken the oath to uphold and defend the constitution against all enemies, domestic or foreign. It is obviously quite possible to extend our personal understanding of what is required of us as Christians in an incorrect manner.

Fr. Orthohippo

Fr. orthoduck/orthocuban

Below is from a recent news story on Fox News:

A Tulsa police officer and devout Christian is suing his department after being punished for refusing to go to a mosque for a mandatory cultural event.

Police Capt. Paul Campbell Fields, a 17-year veteran, was docked two weeks’ pay, transferred, reduced to the graveyard shift and made ineligible for promotions for at least a year, after he told his chief his faith made it impossible for him to attend a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” at the Islamic Cultural Society of Tulsa, according to the lawsuit.

Fields, 43, is a non-denominational Christian, who quoted Scripture in legal explanation of his insubordination.

“This event is compelling me to go to a venue where a group of individuals is prepared to discuss their (Islamic) faith,” Fields said during a May 2012 deposition, the transcript of which was obtained by FoxNews.com. “And in my faith, I have a duty to proselytize my faith to people (who) don’t subscribe to my faith. I can’t do that in uniform. And so therein lies the conflict or moral dilemma I face.”

Fields’ attorney, Robert Muise of The American Freedom Law Center, elaborated, “He was going to be in a place where people were going to refer to Jesus Christ as merely a prophet and not his Lord and Savior.

“And he wouldn’t be able to respond to them in any way,” Muise added. “That was very troubling to him.”

Am I utterly convinced that he is wrong? Yes! Why do I think so? The only way in which this country can function with freedom of religion is if its officials, including is police supervisors, are willing to deal neutrally with all faiths. That means that they need to be willing to attend those public relations events that are important in order for those in public service to gain the trust of those whom they serve. And, that is they key phrase, “those whom they serve.” A police officer is NOT a private individual nor a private business owner, but the representative of a State which guarantees freedom of religion to all whom they serve. Islam has dhimmi rules, but Christianity does not.

What is dhimmi?

A non-Muslim living under the protection of an Islamic state. They are exempt from the duties of Islam like military service and zakat but instead pay an alternative tax to the Islamic state called jizyah.

But, under the Constitution of the United States of America, there is no such thing. All citizens, and resident aliens, regardless of their beliefs, are subject to military service or to non-military alternative service. All citizens are under the protection of the Constitution, regardless of their religion. In fact, the Constitution protects their religion. Various religious beliefs are protected to the point that those who serve in public service may not, in any way, exclude one religion in favor of another. Thus, if a public official–which includes police, fire, and other personnel of government–is willing to attend a religious event for one community, then they need to–without prejudice–be willing to attend the religious even of another community with whom they personally disagree. While it is true that no citizen loses their rights, it is also true that those citizens who enter public service have a set of Constitutional duties that supersede the rights they would normally have as a private individual. Thus, a USA citizen who is a soldier cannot refuse to deal with a village elder in Afghanistan who is a Muslim, based on religious objections to Islam. Their entrance into public service moves them into the arena of those who are covered by the Constitutional provisions regarding government rather than the provisions regarding private individuals. This is where the deputy made his mistake. I agree with all the penalties meted out to him because to do otherwise would be to undercut the very Constitution that I swore to uphold when I was sworn into the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
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