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ISIS and the American Dream: Constitutional Conflict

February 4th, 2016

isisIt seems that we have more questions than answers when it comes to the group that is widely called ISIS. Where did they come from? What do they want? Why are they so angry that they would be willing to kill thousands (or millions) in the name of the nebulous ideals they seem to put ahead of everything else? It is likely that we may never know the answers to these questions because we cannot control the behavior of others. However, we as Americans can control our own behavior and ensure that the protections of our Constitution are not compromised in the face of adversity. Instead, we must work together to understand the provisions that helped create our our country and kept it strong through years of adversity.

Religious Freedom

Part of the founding document that has guided our country since its inception protects the rights of all citizens to practice (or not practice) any religion that they choose and to do so free from governmental persecution. The founders of our country and their predecessors felt so strongly about the right to practice varied religions that the protections are laid out in the original text as well as the first amendment. Governments that are guided by one religious doctrine over all, including the rule of law, were considered at the time of our founding fathers to be misguided; a theory that was solidified by much of history at the time.     

Into the Future

Despite being tested throughout our country’s brief history, we have proven that we as a nation can withstand troubles from the outside. It is the troubles from the inside with which we have historically struggled. Our country has seen its share of heartache – from prohibition-era gangsters to race riots and protests – but the pain from the self-inflicted wounds that occur when we forget about the promises we owe to our own citizens hurts the most. It is this pain that we are in danger of inflicting on ourselves with the hatred surrounding ISIS and the backlash that is looming for those who choose to follow Islam over other religions.  

Is it this choice by over two million Americans deserving of their fellow citizens’ vitriol and hatred? Are they to be judged based on their free exercise any different than other religious groups merely because a foreign entity, who claims to share one quality with them, wishes to do our country harm? These are more questions, but if the Constitution has anything to say about them, they share a very easy answer. No. Not now. Not ever. The reason involves more than ending religious discrimination. It goes to the very core of our country, how we have survived throughout the decades, and how we will survive for future generations of Americans. To protect against our inevitable enemies and enviers, we will need to ensure all Americans are able to enjoy the rights that are theirs by the words of our Constitution. 

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