The Right Reverend
Robert Petrovich

The Reverend
Douglas Eugene Savoy, Jr.

The primary objective of the Ministers council for Constitutional Freedoms is to assure that the "free exercise" of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment and by parallel sections of the constitutions of the states, is upheld at all levels of government with respect to the rights of the individual. Two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson's original Virginia Statute on the freedom of religion disallowed the interference of Virginia's civil government in the realm of religion or in the realm of spiritual teaching. Today every state in the Union has in its state constitution a specific guarantee of freedom of worship or conscience, or a specific "no establishment" clause or both.

In our century, even world organizations make such statements. The article on freedom of religion in the Declaration of the United Nations states the right of individual decision and the freedom of individuals to choose their religion and to practice it; the statement thus implies the right of the individual to practice his or her religion without interference. Our own Proclamation of Human Spiritual Rights states more than that. Our Proclamation calls for respect of holy persons moved by the Word of God by all individuals, all groups, and all states. Further, the Proclamation calls for respect of the human family as a spiritual organism above all social or religious distinctions. Law and reason have made this possible.

Through the Minsters Council for Constitutional Freedoms, the Advocates monitor the legal pulse of legislative bodies to ensure that bills at every level of government encourage religious freedom. When these potential laws in any way threaten to limit the actual exercise of religion, the Advocates actively promote response from the public community through personal contact, education, and directed action against legislation that threatens to violate, in effect, the freedom of any recognized religion to exercise the conscientious expression of its tenets and beliefs. The Council also serves to ensure that government officials interpret and exercise just laws in the spirit in which they were conceived, and that they conduct themselves under those laws in a way that not only is unprejudicial towards religions but also encourages their free exercise. The Council concerns itself with organized religious bodies as well as individual spiritual beings who may be threatened by unjust laws, or by government officials who interpret just laws in a way that forces religious bodies or individuals to conduct themselves in a manner contrary to their religious holdings or contrary to conscience.

Our service is necessary and will continue to be necessary. So long as the nation holds to the Constitution and elects legislative bodies, no single legislative assembly elected by the people has the power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies; no assembly has the power to declare any act, no matter how just, to be irrevocable by succeeding assemblies; and no single assembly can interpret the justness of any law for succeeding assemblies. It will, therefore, be forever necessary to ensure that our legislators, our attorneys, and our courts better understand the true nature of religion because every generation must learn and practice it anew.

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