Texas Constitution,Â Article 1. Bill of Rights,Â Sec. 3 EQUAL RIGHTS
âAll free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services.â
The language is a bit old-fashioned, but this clause of the Texas Constitutionâs Bill of Rights guarantees that all Texans, without exception, be treated equally under law â a right also guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This simple and enlightened idea is the basis for our free society, and is the backbone of most the issues on which Secular Texas takes a stand.
When Texans of any religious creed demand that our shared government enforce their dogmas, their beliefs or their morals through the power of the law, they demand special privilege over all Texans. When the legislature enacts laws to enforce personal religious beliefs, it imposes on the religious and civil rights of all Texans, giving special privilege to one group, and violates this fundamental right guaranteed by both the Texas and United States Constitutions.
When we enforce religious beliefs through law, we violate the rights of people of other faiths â or those of no faith â forcing them to live out the beliefs of others in violation of their own personal conscience. It also violates the rights of people who agree with the religiously based law, by forcing them to follow this tenet of their faith not as a person free to make their own moral and religious decisions, but under threat of law.
When government stays out of the business of enforcing religious beliefs through law, all citizens are protected to live according to their personal religious beliefs or conscience as they see fit. With this view, government is not a moral force, but instead a coming together of the people to lay out the infrastructure for their society. And there may be no more important piece of infrastructure for a free society than guaranteeing that all people are treated equally under the law.
âThe civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worshipâ¦â
James Madison, while introducing the Bill of Rights to Congress.
âNo state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.â
Constitution of the United States, 14th Amendment, Section 1.