On Friday, June 26, 2020, Dr. Mark Wilson, the health officer of Jefferson County, Alabama, issued an order requiring all residents in the county to wear face masks when in most public settings. There are a lot of good and well-meaning people in favor of this order and a lot of good and well-meaning people who oppose it. Most of the debate between the two groups has focused on whether or not the order is necessary or helpful, but there is a much more important question that should be asked. Before we compare the costs verses the benefits of such an order, we need to ask ourselves if the county health officer has the legal authority to issue this order in the first place.
Much of the debate on the relationship between church and state has centered around the phrases “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state.” While these phrases have a very important history and should be studied, their applicability to American government must be understood within the confines of the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the debate on this Amendment has largely focused on whether or not its prohibitions are limited to the US Congress. The real key to understanding the First Amendment lies in unlocking the mystery of the phrase “an establishment of religion.”
Conservatism is the philosophy that the wisdom of the past is still just as applicable today as it was then. Conservatism is an ancient wisdom in itself, for every age has its conservatives and liberals, and it is always the conservatives who succeed and pass their wisdom down to the next age where some new brand of liberals will rise up to challenge that wisdom once again.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)