For as long as I can recall, there has been a movement defending the notion of America as a Christian nation. Of late, one version of that concept has been expressed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. His belief is that the First Amendment to the Constitution protects the free expression of Christians only. Adherents of non-Christian religions, on the other hand, may be tolerated but do not enjoy Constitutional protections for the free exercise of their faith. Fischer writes:
The leftwing political websites lit up over my column of last week in which I took the position that the First Amendment provides no guarantees to practitioners of the Islamic faith, for the simple reason it wasn’t written to protect the free exercise of Islam. It was written to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith.
Fischer defends this reading of the First Amendment by citing Congressional debate on the language proposed by James Madison in 1789. Several alternative suggestions were made, with some Representatives referring to “denominations,” “sects” and “societies” of religion. According to Fischer, these terms clearly point to intent to protect the various versions of Christianity. Indeed, at the time, most people professed allegiance to one Christian denomination or another.