I was just reading an interesting post by William Briggs, in which he questions the future of religious liberty under an administration of vindictive social justice warriors. He quotes some splenetic government reptile to the effect that this future is not sunny. This prompts me to make a simple point that cannot be too often asseverated. The government does not give you this right, it only guarantees it. In exactly the same way, the government does not give you a right to your property or to fulfillment of contracts you have signed; it only guarantees that these rights will be honored. And in all cases it does this because to do so is more orderly than it would be if it were left to you to ensure that these rights be honored.
If you were to ensure that these rights be honored, you would have to say that, in the event of anyone trying to take them from me, one of us must yield or die. In other words, the old cry of “liberty or death.” Religious liberty is something you claim, not something you are given. When you claim it, you say that this is mine, and if someone tries to take it from me, one of us is going to die. All that the government can do is recognize this claim, and, to the end of public tranquility, guarantee this right. If the government declines to do this, it does not destroy the right, only the tranquility.
Public tranquility is a very fine thing, but it is by no means the finest thing there is. Any man who can imagine no condition under which he would be prepared to disrupt that tranquility, and suffer the consequences of disrupting that tranquility, is only nominally a man. When you speak of a right to religious liberty, therefore, you should certainly hope that this will be guaranteed within the tranquil order of positive law, but you must also mean that, in the absence of such a guarantee, you will personally insist upon this right. And to personally insist upon a right is ultimately to say, if you try to take this from me, one of us going to die.