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Conscientious objection

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It's an interesting time to be a person of faith in the United States of America. Interesting, that is, if you're up for a fight to preserve your First Amendment constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.

Over the past few decades, believers have been cowed into the corner of contemporary culture. Observant Christians in particular have been made virtual untouchables by a societal obsession with the separation of church and state. Most Americans have quietly accepted the premise that religious institutions have no right to influence civil society. It's just too dangerous for religion and politics to mix, right? People of faith must be restrained, lest they impose their moral codes on "the rest of us." The church, many suggest, has an interest in -- perhaps a plan for? -- coercing the state.

But what if the state is the unbridled force after all? What if societal coercion is aimed not only at religious institutions, but all those individuals who are affiliated with them? What if the state is intruding, attempting to exercise power over the internal affairs of the church? Given the latest assault on our freedom of conscience, these questions are sadly not at all far-fetched.

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