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We enjoy incredible freedoms in the United States of America. But all too often we take them for granted. It’s important to look back at how we got those freedoms in the first place: from the Constitution. This historic document provides us unparalleled human rights, starting with the ever-important and always-relevant First Amendment.
The First Amendment includes five basic freedoms: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Petition. Here’s the layman’s guide to remembering and appreciating just what these freedoms mean today:
Freedom of Religion: Allowing Americans to practice the religion of their choice, this part of the First Amendment continues to relate to topics such as the way government and religion intersect, the appropriateness of prayer in school and tax credits for church properties.
Freedom of Speech: This part of the First Amendment gives us the right to speak our minds about anything, without the use of violence or offensive language. We may take this one for granted most of all. In many countries around the world, people are prevented from speaking out against government or other ruling factions.
Freedom of the Press: This right allows people to print or publish ideas that inform citizens about actions by local and national government. This right, the Founders believed, was key to the promotion of ideas.
Freedom of Assembly: Giving individuals a way to express their ideas and the unity behind these ideas, this right lets citizens hold meetings, protests, parades and other large gatherings to discuss issues in a peaceful manner.
Freedom of Petition: This part of the First Amendment gives us the right to contact our government representatives and ask them to work to pass or change laws. Ultimately, this citizen feedback helps government improve the way it governs.
So next time you go to church, say something freely, read a newspaper, attend a rally or reach out to a government representative, consider just how lucky you are to be an American.