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Defending the right to live according to one’s conscience

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

September 18, 2015, Constitution Daily

As Pope Francis travels to Cuba, my family’s homeland, I think of my father on his deathbed. Even though dementia made him forget who my mother and I were, he still hissed, “that man,” when he spotted Fidel Castro on TV. “That man” had been the reason we had suffered years of poverty and exile in Puerto Rico. “That man” had wiped out civil society and become both judge and jury. He established a Communist dictatorship and—50 years later—had yet to hold elections. I grew up with “that man.”

“That man” is also the reason I work at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. I grew up with a deep understanding that no man should ever have such power. I am eager to defend our Constitution, which explicitly guarantees this. I am proud to stand up at a baseball game, put my hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, one nation under God, as I remind myself and others that our country was founded on the idea that no one man can claim to be the source of our rights, and that the government cannot do so either. Our rights do not come from the state; therefore, the state cannot take them away.