Yesterday I witnessed Americans turning out in droves to cast their vote; more than I’ve ever seen for any presidential election. Cars lined up for a mile waiting to turn into the polling place in my town. People stood in a queue that wrapped around the voting venue, out the door, and spilled onto the sidewalk.
Amazingly, people waited patiently, not a small feat for instant-gratification-loving Americans. At the end of their sojourn, weary yet pleasant workers greeted them with a smile.
The ballots were cast at unorthodox locations: Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Some Americans turned out to vote because First Amendment rights were being threatened. Some came to stand for the Biblical definition of marriage. And some just to support their favorite chicken sandwich with their wallets.
A handful of people stood in front of the restaurant with picket signs, also casting their vote and exercising their free speech. One sign read, “Chick-fil-A serves Hate and Intolerance with their Chicken.” (I wonder if they considered that it might be intolerant to attempt to ban Chick-fil-A from whole cities.)
I felt like I was witnessing something historic.
Last week, I blogged about my fear that we are a nation headed toward Fascism. My angle was the violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech. The whole brouhaha began when Chick-fil-A’s president merely answered a question posed by a reporter, honestly expressing his personal belief, while refusing to discriminate against anyone with a different belief who eats or works in his company.
Since then, I’ve read many other editorials which have pointed to a bigger First Amendment right being threatened in our Western world: the free exercise of religion. It’s not just evangelical Protestant Christians who are being discriminated against.
Recently, the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) mandate went into effect, requiring that all employers pay for contraception services and abortion-inducing drugs. This forces Catholic organizations to either abandon their consciences or drop health care coverage for employees.
In Cologne, Germany, circumcision was banned as a violation of a newborn’s human rights; thereby infringing on the exercise of religion for Jews. To follow Mosaic law, all male Jewish boys must be circumcised at eight days old. Of all nations in the world, Germany is the last country that should attempt to step on the free expression of Judaism.
Last night, my faith in democracy was restored. Americans spoke up.