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RLC group highlights First Amendment with program featuring controversial pastor

Dr. Terry Jones will address the Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida on the topic of 'Freedom of Speech, Religious Liberty, Christianity and Islam on April 3. (Photo: RLC-NEF)The Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida will highlight the First Amendment with a program featuring controversial pastor Terry Jones on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The meeting will be held at the Fairfield Inn (4888 Lenoir Avenue) in Jacksonville (Fla.) beginning at 6 p.m. Dr. Jones will speak on the topic of ‘Freedom of Speech, Religious Liberty, Christianity and Islam.’

RLC is a libertarian-leaning political group focusing on the U.S. Constitution and limits on federal powers. RLC is one of many groups concerned about the federal government’s encroachment on freedom of speech and religious liberty.

Jones drew widespread attention and sparked a propaganda campaign in the national media sector and blogosphere in 2011 when he decided to burn a Koran to protest  what he believed was a clampdown on religious liberty. Most who appreciate the significance of the First Amendment and its relationship to liberty upheld Jones’ right to protest in the manner he chose even if they didn’t agree with his process.

The controversy that followed Jones’ announcement  inspired a national debate and a media blitz, with President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Supreme Court Asso. Justice Stephen Breyer and others weighing in.

Unfortunately few leaders focused on the issue that mattered—the right of an obscure U.S. clergyman to express his discontent in a peaceful, legal manner. The worst statements came from Breyer who likened Jones’ action to ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater.’

Breyer positioned himself as arbiter of individual rights that are God-given, or for those who don’t believe in God, are a natural, innate right held by all. American leaders failed to accurately convey the significance of the First Amendment, losing an opportunity to message freedom throughout the world. That Breyer continues to serve on the court is remarkable, considering his eagerness to dilute a key pillar of freedom in the U.S.

The United States stands alone when it comes to the breadth of the First Amendment. Numerous other countries, even Canada, have adopted politically correct positions that limit that right.

In December, 2011, President Barack Obama’s administration met with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss religious tolerance. This organization and others seek to limit the ability of citizens, even those in free countries, to criticize a faith. Few national media even covered the meeting. Many conservatives perceived it as a lobbying effort by OIC member countries to establish a special status for their faith and to initiate global repression of speech.

The United Nations has aligned with the OIC platform, setting aside special protections for one faith while turning a blind eye to oppression of other faiths, often by murder or imprisonment, in Muslim majority countries.

Paul Marshall, senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, wrote an essay for Imprimus, a publication of Hillsdale College. Marshall’s essay suggests there is a potential threat not only to the First Amendment but also to U.S. sovereignty, inherent in the mission of OIC:

“The OIC’s charter commits it ‘to combat defamation of Islam.’ Its current action plan calls for ‘deterrent punishments’ to counter ‘Islamophobia.’ In 2009, an official OIC organ, the ‘International Islamic Fiqh [Jurisprudence] Academy,’ issued fatwas calling for speech bans, including ‘international legislation,’ to protect ‘the interests and values of [Islamic] society.’ The OIC does not define what speech should be outlawed, but the repressive practices of its leading member states speak for themselves.”

Ironically as these events proceeded, neither the Obama administration nor most of national media addressed the oppression of other faiths around the world. No 'international legislation' can supersede the First Amendment, at least legally.

Jones’ speech will be followed by a question and answer session that will likely feature lively exchanges. The US Report has covered past RLC-NEF events and found the members are very informed politically. Their understanding of the history and context of the U.S. Constitution is most definitely above average.

RLC-NEF chair Louis William Rose addressed some of Jones’ controversial statements by saying, “While all the members of the RLC may not agree with Dr. Jones’ position, they all agree that it is his right to make such statements without violent reprisal.”

The public is welcome to attend the gathering; admission is free.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 26, 2012)

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Reader Comments (9)

It's time America get back to basics! Where a man does not avoid the questions with political rhetoric but answers the question regardless if the answer is not what is going to make everyone happy. America is in a serious condition and needs the honesty, integrity and boldness of a man like Terry Jones! Looking forward to the meeting in Jacksonville!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWayne

"The United States stands alone when it comes to the breadth of the First Amendment. Numerous other countries, even Canada, have adopted politically correct positions that limit that right."
Our First Amendment is something our forefathers died for...now out of fear of what other say, we are starting to compromise this precious gift. We need more men like Dr. Jones who have to guts to speak the truth - not bowing down to political correctness.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

We must protect the First Amendment. We must stop hiding and take a stand, not only on Facebook or on Twitter, but by holding rallies and demonstrations presenting a unified effort. We must put aside petty differences and stand together.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Sapp

Most Americans take the First Amendment for granted, not realizing we have broader freedom of speech than any other country in the world. Thanks to each of you for weighing in on this--best, KBD, Ed

March 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

I don't what the OIC and Istanbul telling me as an American what I can say or write. Islam is of the Devil. Too harsh? OK, if we pull back from such a blunt criticism, where is the line? And why should Islam get that special status. Every doctrine and ideology must have its critics.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFran Ingram

We have to stand up for our constitutional rights!
To much changes are taking place in the wrong direction and Sharia Law is trying to creep in more and more! We have to be alert, what is going on and speak up!
Fight for Freedom of Speech, we are the only Nation left!!!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnkaDoris

We need leader who dare to speak up even its uncomforatble and people might not like it. Dr Jones has the guts to confront radical Islam and does not bow down though he received hundreds of deaththreats! The truth is offensive to many people but its neccesary that somebody speaks put loud!!!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeike

Thanks to all for reading and commenting. Best, KBD

March 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

Only going to the limit shows where it is. Talking about it as many do does not. The limit of free speech has come much too close, America! Stand up - Join Dr. Terry Jones, go for it where you are! You will see how much freedom got lost. The time to stand up is now! See you Tuesday at 6.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLB
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