Legal Assaults on the First Amenndment

by on December 3rd, 2004

I am not a religious person. I belong to no church. I neither worship nor believe in any diety. Unlike others who share a similar absence of belief I have no hostility toward those who do. I will in fact staunchly defend anyone’s right to practice their religion. It comes down to a basic slippery slope argument. Freedom is freedom. If you allow one freedom to be destroyed others will not be far behind.

That is why the story of a pastor being sued for following the teachings of the Bible in resolving a conflict between his church and one of its members.

Four years ago Pastor Buddy Westbrook of Crossland Community Bible Church in Fort Worth was approached by member Peggy Penley, who needed counseling for marital problems. Eventually Penley left her husband to live with another man. Pastor Westbrook then proceeded to follow the three-step conflict resolution guidelines given in the Bible in the 18th chapter of Matthew. Eventually, the minister went before the church with the matter, sending a letter to the congregation in which he removed Penley from church membership.

This case goes to the heart of the establishment clause of the first amendment. This is government stepping in and telling a church how it can administer its faith. This case is about establishing a governmentally sanctioned practice of religion.

Strangely enough, I can find no outcry from those who angrily fight for a separation of church and state and spring into action at the thought of Christmas Carol being sung on public property. The pastor is being defended by the Liberty Legal Institute

The case is headed for the Texas Supreme Court where hopefully it will go down in flames. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of the campaign finance reform attack on free speech I can only that this latest assault on the First Amendment does not make it that far.

Stephen Macklin