Celebrating Constitutional Rights

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In celebration of Constitution Day, Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, came to discuss the importance of religious freedom on Sept. 22, 2010 in the Copenbarger Presidential Dining Room at California Baptist University.

Constitution Day commemorates the founding father’s formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The Constitution covers many aspects of daily life; however, the main focus of Dacus’ presentation was the importance of fundamental rights from the Constitution.

“The founding fathers’ purpose of the constitution was to codify, not create, but codify fundamental rights,” Dacus said. “The difference between laws and fundamental rights is that laws are made by man and fundamental rights are given by God.”

According to Dacus, churches and religious people face challenges due to the separation between church and state. In the past there have been attempts to take God out of the government. These attempts have raised issues such as whether or not to acknowledge God in the Pledge of Allegiance or keep the motto “in God we trust” on money.

Since the Pacific Justice Institute adheres to the Founding Fathers’ original understanding of fundamental rights, they have helped stop these things from occurring in the court cases.

Dacus explained how fundamental rights play into religious freedom. Churches are important and yet they are often attacked, due to local governments not wanting them there.

The churches, according to Dacus, are at risk because of the local government’s interpretation of the First Amendment, which makes them vulnerable. However, the Pacific Justice Institute specializes in defending religious freedoms and civil liberties, which help churches regain their fundamental rights.

“It is very important to be aware that we have certain constitutional rights and that those rights emanate from God and not from the state,” Jim Bishop, associate professor of criminal justice and business law, said. “If they are given by the state that which the state gives away, they can take back. If the rights are given by God, the state cannot remove them and it is good to be reminded of the reality of that.”

Dacus also discussed cases that the Pacific Justice Institute defended. One case dealt with two college students who were suspended for praying for their sick professor at school. They were suspended because they were praying on government property, which fell under the issue of the separation between church and state. The Pacific Justice Institute fought for them and won the case.

“I think it’s really interesting how much politics play a role in the church and how people are able to use different positions and law in order to defend our rights as Christians,” Allana Patrick, a CBU student, said. “It was also interesting how Dacus said tolerance goes both ways. As Christians sometimes we feel that we are called to be tolerant of other religions but we don’t really receive that same respect so it is really nice for someone to be able to defend and fight for
that.”

The audience was able to ask Dacus questions about the Constitution and current social/political problems.

Proceeding from the questions and answers, Dacus gave encouraging words to the audience.

“Remember one thing, your education is not just about you,” Dacus said. “Your education is preparing you with tools to be used by the almighty God to have an impact on the world around you.”

The Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal defense organization that specializes in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties. This organization works to provide their clients with all the legal support they need.

“The presentation was very informative,” Jessica Pope, CBU student, said. “It’s really good to know as Christians what our rights are as followers of Jesus Christ and it is good to know that the Pacific Justice Institute defends churches and the rights of the family and things that matter to the heart of God.”