Freedom of Religion
The first two phrases of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States of America as ratified on 15 December 1791 reads, "Congress
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof". My American College Dictionary's primary
definition of "religion" reads, "the quest for values of the ideal life,
involving three phases: the ideal, the practices for attaining the values of
the ideal, and the theology or world view relating the quest to the
When citizens of the United States of America refer to "freedom of religion"
they refer, in a vernacular phrase, to this prohibition that government is
bound to protect "the free exercise" of religion for all citizens. This
"liberty" or "freedom" to practice religion free from the interference of
government or the wishes of other citizens to impose their "religious' (or
even non-religious) beliefs on their fellow citizens has distinguished us
from practically all other nations throughout history. To say this and
other Constitutional "freedoms" (speech, press, Arms, etc.) are currently
being eroded and challenged, more so than at any other time in our national
life, would be an understatement.
As lawsuits by government entities claim there is no "right to bear Arms",
as wealthy minority athlete's are tried and sentenced in two courts for the
same offense, and as "political correctness" and "animal rights" coercive
censorship and intimidation are employed in schools and in the media: only a
fool would argue that the future of American Constitutional civil liberties
is secure. Let us set aside these direct assaults on American
Constitutional "rights" and consider how certain of these "rights" are also
being manipulated to deny other Constitutional rights to all citizens in a
perverse "danse macabre" by politicians, bureaucrats, and an unholy alliance
of anonymous organizations with hidden agendas and an abhorrence of the
American Way of Life. I am referring to the imposition of the environmental
and animal rights beliefs ("values", "ideals", tenets) on all Americans.
Truly the use of government to impose these "values" and religious beliefs
is similar to the imposition of Moslem "ideals" or "religious values" on all
Saudis or Pakistanis through government power harnessed to powerful
religious entities. While such coercion should be abhorrent to Americans,
tolerance for this travesty is tolerance for subjugating the first freedom
spelled out in the 1st Amendment of our Bill of Rights to tyranny. Such
formerly guaranteed freedoms are what have ultimately been responsible for
the long history of immigration to this great nation and the almost total
lack of emigration from this nation with the possible exception of tax
evaders, criminals, and naive movie stars trying to make political
America's Founding Fathers purposely rejected the English religious model of
their day wherein the King was the head of "the church" and "the church" was
a state organ every bit as much as the tax collector and the sheriff were
arms of the government. According to our Constitution, you are free to
practice your religion as long as you do not interfere with the religious
practices of others: that is the meaning of "freedom". That means there
could be no religious requirement for office or for hiring into a government
job and that all religious believers, like non-religious adherents, were
equal before the law in all regards. For instance your property could not
be seized by government because you did not accept certain religious beliefs
and your customs and traditions could not be terminated because powerful
religious sects opposed your cultural pursuits or diet or uses of your own
property that did not interfere with your neighbor.
For over 35 years now we have witnessed bizarre environmental and animal
"rights" claims that are no more than twists of the definition of the
"quests for the values of the ideal life", i.e. "religion". These twists
are not only arguably distortions and unsupportable claims of a religious
nature: they have been and increasingly continue to be the basis for the
denial and elimination of other rights of other citizens.
Consider how the Endangered Species Act has come to justify government
seizure of private property without compensation; or how the Marine Mammal
PROTECTION Act came to be a precedent for giving quasi-human status to
marine mammals; or how the Animal Welfare Act came to be responsible for
eliminating medical testing in this country (and thereby jeopardizing the
future of medical development); or how the government land agencies (federal
and state) clamor for and get more land annually while they ultimately
eliminate all management of plants and animals and the uses and access of
the citizenry to these lands; or how children are propagandized about these
things in the classroom and in the media; or how animal uses from domestic
animal ownership to wild animal management are increasingly viewed as
government dispensations instead of citizen rights; or how energy use or
energy development for human benefit have come to be considered bad. I
submit that the basis for these incremental and growing denials of American
citizen rights are based on religious declarations (a "world view relating
the quest [sic, for the 'values of the ideal life'] to the environing
universe.") every bit as much as Moslem beliefs in Yemen or Hindu beliefs in
certain Indian states.
This "world view" (environmentalism and animal rights et al) is simply
personal beliefs of various sects. These sects may periodically publicly
disagree with each other like when some anti-hunting groups claim they are
"not really" against hunting, or when certain anti-human groups claim
Wilderness classification won't really stop human uses or that when they say
there are "too many people" they are only referring to Africa or India.
These things are done as they do "whatever is necessary" to establish their
Like Protestant reference to The Bible, or Moslem reference to the Koran, or
Catholic reference to Papal teaching; the environmentalist and animal rights
believers refer to "science", "experts", and "studies" as the infallible
basis for their beliefs that should be imposed on all.
Just as Darwin's "studies" and claims were used by Margaret Sanger and
Planned Parenthood as well as Nazi Germany to justify classifying humans as
desirable or undesirable or unwanted or unproductive in the sense of
unsuccessful animal species that become extinct "for the better": similar
"studies" and claims abound today about everything from "too many people" to
"global warming" to "environmental collapse". As with Darwin's assertions,
there are scientific facts and suppositions and claims that deserve our
awareness and where appropriate our consideration. Science is an ever
advancing collection and analysis of the make-up and interaction of the
physical universe that surrounds us. Just as Darwin is claimed by a
professor to "prove" that man evolved from apes and by a Eugenicist to
"prove" that certain people or groups of people are inferior and therefore
less worthy of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" than others, so
too are "global warming" and "native ecosystem" and "the role of large
predators" claims open to interpretation and manipulation.
These environmental and animal rights claims are tenuous at best and at most
beliefs held by individuals and groups that should govern no more that their
own individual behavior in a Constitutional Republic like ours. There is
really no "infallibility" or "deity" teaching involved in these claims
although they are increasingly treated as though they were in fact religious
tenets in a theocracy to be observed by all or the power of government
should coerce their acceptance. The one thing that all these claims of the
past 35 years have in common is that always the only remedy is more laws and
more government and more control by the central government with a steady
loss of rights for all citizens. These "controls" on "freedoms" are
constantly touted as absolutely necessary, beyond debate, and irrefutable.
Like the claims by Lenin regarding the writings of Karl Marx or the claims
of Chinese communists about Chairman Mao's insights, the penultimate answer
for claimed societal ills is more power to impose one group's "values", i.e.
religious beliefs, on everyone else through the power of coercive
1. Wolves "belong" in (fill-in-the-blank).. Says who? Just because some
academic or wolf enthusiast organization says so is NO basis for forcing
others to accept that value-laden belief.
2. Private property must be subjugated to the whims of popular demands when
environmental claims or animal rights claims are expressed.. In America,
under our Constitution, private property may only be "taken" by government
for "public use" and then only with "just compensation". Taking private
property for plants or animals is more un-American and evil than Robert
Mugabe taking farms from owners to give to supporters to curry political
support while destroying Zimbabwean agriculture.
3. When federal bureaucrats and academic "partners" declare that there
should be "more" of certain plants or animals, private property guarantees
are voided and essentially an endless chain of government power expansions
(see polar bear listing and watch the expansion of subsequent claims based
on that "Listing) are set in motion.. On what basis other than raw power
opportunism to impose a group's "values" on all others has such abuse of
power been allowed? Polar bears and their future are what they are and may
be. While it is admirable to show concern for their future, who says they
cannot be hunted when their population can withstand hunting? Other than a
blind belief in the tenets of "animal rights environmentalism" there is no
rational basis for this imposition of the "beliefs" of those opposed to
hunting on the "values" and "beliefs" of those interested in hunting polar
bears or other animals in a sustainable and "society-friendly" way.
4. Dams "destroy" rivers; levees destroy floodplains; irrigation destroys
groundwater: all three should be eliminated. In truth, dams "change" rivers
and create reservoirs that produce power, recreation, dependable water
supplies, and social welfare and stability. Levees "change" floodplains and
provide the stability for agriculture, water transportation, and flood
control. Irrigation has been responsible for much of the increase in the
world food supply, the success of American agriculture, and can be
responsibly sustained indefinitely with current knowledge and practices.
Whose belief system is being imposed on others here? On what basis other
than the belief of some sect (their relative numbers are and should remain
immaterial if any Constitutional freedom or right means anything, otherwise
such "rights" mean nothing) is the "changed" environment "better" or
"proper" or the "only real one"? I submit it is simply the values and
beliefs (i.e. religion") of the currently powerful "believers" subverting
our right to Freedom of Religion.
5. Other than the sensible study of biology and historical changes, on what
possible basis have the terms "native species" and "native ecosystem" become
the basis for government policies and laws? The answer is of course,
certain groups "values" about what other people's land and public lands
"should be". The fact of their preference for a date or "ecosystem" is no
more relevant than any other is not considered or mentioned.
6. Claims about the need to eliminate "Invasive Species" through government
programs are based on what? The date Europeans arrived? Some bucolic
notion of species or ecosystem "purity" under primitive and deadly societies
was "better" is simply expressed antagonism against the modern American
society and nation.
7. Wilderness and Roadless areas are important and valuable. Says who?
Wilderness areas tend toward unity and not biodiversity. Wilderness areas
do not support associated rural communities or their economies.
Wilderness/Roadless areas are fire pits due to the natural accumulation of
fire fuel and fighting fires in these areas ranges from impossible to
expensive and highly destructive of human lives and nearby residences.
8. Predators are a "necessary" part of the environment.. Says who? Hunters
(when allowed by state agencies and federal land managers) serve as very
effective predators as well as generators of culture, traditions,
recreation, revenue to government, and profit to rural and associated
industries from gun and equipment manufacturers to motel and café operators.
Predators can be deadly to people but believers tell us we "must live with
them" and we are "in their habitat". How does such sophomoric nonsense get
imposed on the rest of us through the coercive cooperation of government in
9. Gamefowl should not be allowed to fight as they have for eons; horses
should not be slaughtered for any reason; pet numbers should be regulated as
should their owners (termed "guardians" by believers); meat should only be
raised as certain sects believe until it is banned from human consumption
altogether; bullfights, hunting, fishing, trapping, leather, fur, dog
"training", wild animal control, wild plant and animal use, rural roads,
rural private property for all but the wealthy, ranching, rodeos, gun
ownership and any semblance of "local controls" should all be incrementally
eliminated. The various sects behind each of these "values impositions"
point to "scientists" and "claims" as to why their "claim" is true and why
it "must" be imposed on all. These range from "claims" regarding global
climate changes to "studies" about animal "welfare" as a basis to eliminate
all animal testing for human benefit.
The relationship of all of these examples with other anti-energy actions,
anti-animal ownership, anti-animal use, and the purchase and closure of land
by government agencies and their tax-subsidized surrogates is a matter of
record and obvious to the most casual observer. Each of these "claims" of
environmental and animal rights "values", i.e. religious beliefs, are simply
the beliefs of others. More often than not the "scientific" basis for their
imposition is paid for and paid to those that benefit directly and
personally from the imposition.
Under our Constitution the number of people demanding that others be coerced
to believe as they do is irrelevant to government compliance in such
demands: that is the meaning of "Constitutional guarantee". Unlike certain
African or Asian nations, were we to have a 30 or 40 percent Moslem
population, calls for Sharia law or Moslem rules on what Americans could eat
or what pets we would be allowed would not be legally possible or even
conceivable unless the United States Constitution were amended. Yet we
shrug as the environmental and animal rights "values" and beliefs are
imposed on us throughout society based on "ideals" and "values" that we do
not believe in a manner that has been forbidden throughout the life of this
nation until very recently. The precedents and expansion going on here is
very, very dangerous to our national life.
Part of the fault for our docility has the cleverness of those imposing
their beliefs not only incrementally but also in a way that always an aspect
of the religious belief being imposed seems worthwhile and non-threatening.
Cockfights attended by "rednecks" or a bullfight attended by "Hispanics" or
deer hunting or trapping by some poorly educated bumpkin always seems like a
"worthy cause" to some suburban elite or urban professional in search of
such a "worthwhile cause". The fact that these legal precedents (banning
such things for others) eventually morph into laws that for instance, the
urban/suburban elitist can not dispose of a sick or now (due to fuel prices)
too-expensive horse or that the urban professional suddenly is faced with
licensing and training requirements and police searches without warrants and
unrealistic requirements for care and feeding as well as number controls for
their pet cat or dog or canary is always realized too late.
The point is not that by keeping a dog or hunting or ranching or simply
living in a rural area becoming infested with deadly predators that I am
"practicing" a religion. The point is that environmental and animal rights
"believers" have adopted a very strict belief in how man relates to animals
and how the environment relates to man. This strict belief is similar to
Amish or Quaker or Buddhist or Confucian or Christian Science beliefs in man
and the world. While such beliefs are protected and the right of each and
every American to pursue; the Constitution prohibits their imposition on
others, much less all others.
Here are a few of my beliefs that I do not impose on others, yet others want
to deny me because of their beliefs:
- If you are opposed to hunting - don't hunt.
- If you are opposed to eating meat - don't eat meat.
- If you are opposed to logging - don't use wood, buy some private property,
and revere trees.
- If you are opposed to a cockfight or bullfight - don't go to one.
- If you oppose animal testing - don't use products that result from animal
- If you believe that powerful central governments are best - move to one.
- If you think animals are equal to humans - live with them on your own
- If you oppose dams and irrigation and energy development - build a cabin,
plant a garden, & burn wood.
- American public lands should be for all.
- Everyone uses public lands managed for timber and grazing and hunting to
hike and camp and study nature and just plain enjoy themselves.
- Public lands, with only minor exceptions, and areas of significant human
habitation and private property should NOT be inhabited by wolves, grizzly
bears, or mountain lions.
- Animal control should be accomplished by citizens wherever possible.
- Public lands should be managed for financial returns from timber, forage,
and wildlife management.
- Harmful (to humans and human activities) plants and animals should be
depressed or eliminated by state governments.
- "Native" plants or "native" ecosystems should not be a basis for
government laws or policies.
- Federal "Wilderness Areas" or "Marine Sanctuaries" should be eliminated
and limited to privately owned or state owned properties.
- Any government agency, legislator, or bureaucrat responsible for
introducing or protecting large predators that subsequently kill a human
should be liable for a charge of manslaughter or worse.
In one sense all this is like gun control. If you don't want a gun around -
don't have one. If someone misuses a gun - prosecute them. Don't tell me
that I no longer have a Constitutional right because parentless children are
running wild in some cities or that I can't hunt anymore because you are
concerned about some animal or plant. In a Constitutional Republic you have
a right to your beliefs just as I have a right to mine. "The free exercise
thereof" concerning religious belief does not mean you are "free to impose
on others" your values and beliefs. Congress has made laws for the past 40
years that arguably effect "the establishment of a religion". This
"religion" is the environmental and animal "worship" that is the object of
most parts of all those laws and the basis for what is being taught to our
children and spread by federal programs.
Redressing the harms of this truly religious oppression of the past 40 years
calls for determination and commitment. If these harms go uncorrected and
they are allowed to continue to grow, as the upcoming election would seem to
indicate, the tragic consequences will affect every American and hollow out
American Constitution and our rights until they collapses into the dustbin
of history and the tyranny of the majority makes us each subject to the
capriciousness of whoever holds the power of government.
6 July 2008
- If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.
- This article and other recent articles by Jim Beers can be found at
http://jimbeers.blogster.com (Jim Beers Common Sense)
- Jim Beers is available for consulting or to speak. Contact:
- Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist,
Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow.
He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and
Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western
Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the
Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security
Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress;
twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60
Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to
expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Centreville,
Virginia with his wife of many decades.
This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA, the Klamath River Basin, and private property rights can be found at The Klamath Bucket Brigade's website - http://klamathbucketbrigade.org/index.html -- please visit today.