My recent column on “graduation prayer” touched a nerve – a very raw nerve. “You ought to be ashamed,” wrote one reader, echoing a sentiment expressed by many others. “Either that or you’re as dumb as a gourd.”
“I am sick and tired of being told by minorities how I am supposed to live,” writes a Pennsylvania reader. “The majority should rule.”
It’s a fair point. After all, majority rule is at the heart of democracy. But it’s important to remember that our Framers understood the dangers of democracy, including mobocracy.
That’s why they had the wisdom and foresight to add the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, putting certain inalienable rights beyond the reach of the majority. The very purpose of the First Amendment is to guard what James Madison called “the great rights of mankind” from the shifting moods of majorities and governments.
This means that even if 99% of the people demand it, no legislature or school board or any other government body can take away our individual natural rights. Our right to free speech and religious freedom – whether we belong to a major religious group, to one of the smallest minorities, or to no group at all – is not up for a vote. Full Story