Who is Kevin Hasson in the world of liberty, and how does he care about the First Amendment other than this simple book? Hasson is the founder of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, also called Becket Law, which is a liberty defense organization based in the United States, and operating throughout the world. Established in 1994, the Becket Fund has grown into a global non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute, with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths. It has incredible respect as the premier religious liberty law firm that protects the free expression of all religious traditions, from Anglicans to Zoroastrians, and every faith in-between. This also includes people of no faith at all. Hence, in a recent Wall Street Journal feature, Tunku Varadarajan described the Becket as “God’s ACLU”.
Under Hasson stewardship, Becket has remained non-partisan, and prominently heard in the frontline of resolving Americans culture wars. While challenging the first camp of people wanting to use instruments of law or state power to the advantage of their faith, Becket has fought for upholding the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment to the United States constitution. On the other front, it often relies on the “free exercise” and Bills of Right clause to defend people of faith against discrimination and persecution from entities such as governments, organizations and individuals. For this legal works, Becket relies on its array of legal counsels, constitutional experts and academics.
The regular turf where Becket practices its defense of religious liberties is the United States. This has meant a lot of success stories, since United States is the universally acclaimed land of liberty, and the torch-bearer of human advancement in everything good, from democracy, to science, technology and social innovation. Unlike many conservatively religious countries of Europe for instance, who enshrined dogmatic attachment to a single faith or religious tradition in their constitutions, United States defies those primordialities in its definition of a nation. Nevertheless Americans have historically chosen to define their cultural civilization from two sacred factors of religion and freedom. (Consider the political paradigms dividing today’s American society, left, right, center; and the socioeconomic paradigms, class, race, and gender. There is vague heroism in Americans minds, which tend toward either “fighting for God” or “fighting for humanity”. Americans severally assume different topics of debates from feminists, oath of office, to abortion, gender neutrality, and public restroom. But it mostly boils down to faith or belief, cultural philosophy and religious tradition, as they manifest in general society, or public life.
One extremely significant take-home from reading Hasson’s book is that the two clauses of the First Amendment stand today as the Decalogue of American culture/religion. This must be understood from the underlying fact that their foundations were sunk in trenches of the original war between the Pilgrims and the Puritans, during “World War Zero” of founding America. It thus makes a natural sense for Hanson to reenact this historical feud, into what he calls the eternal duel between The Pilgrims and the Park Rangers, who form the two characters in this holy drama. This has, and will continue to manifest in Americans lives in the next foreseeable future. Stories of Americans’ as well as world’s contentions over the implications of religious freedom, as a living doctrine of modern societies, will also survive human civilization beyond the age of globalization. (Concluded!)