You Keep Using That Word? Religion v. Liberty

By Gregory Williams – HigherLiberty.com –

Several people approached me last week about their personal efforts to fight the erosion of liberty in the world today. They were soliciting our help in spreading their plan to return to the freedoms they believed the Constitution afforded America at one time in our history….

While they believed that understanding the contents of my books, like The Covenants of the gods, is essential to groups like the Tea Party and other patriot organizations for educational purposes they expressed concerns that most of them did not want to hear anything about -religion.

I thought that was funny and immediately thought of the line from the movie The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya comments to Vizzini, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I understand why people seeking liberty do not want to hear about “religion” and I would not want to spar with them concerning the stuff posing as religion today. The real reason for their mental taboo of the term is that today the word religion does not mean what they think it means.

The definition of the word religion has changed in the minds of modern society since the Constitution1 was written and even more so since James defined pure religion in the Bible. It is important to understand the meaning of words at the time they are used. There is power in words because “the generality of mankind is wholly and absolutely governed by words and names”.

If you are going to study the words of older documents like the Constitution of the United States you need to use the dictionary used at the time men wrote that document. Modern dictionaries often cite much different definitions. The most common dictionary used for the Constitution is John Bouvier’s Law Dictionary but that is not where most of you get the definitions you have in your mind for the words you use every day.

When someone uses the word religion today they might think the word means:

“a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs or a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects…”

But if you look up the same word in a dictionary published just a hundred years before, when many words we commonly used today were being changed, you will see that the word “religion” according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) meant:

 
Continue Reading