Despite Their Many Disagreements, the Founding Fathers Agreed on the Basic Principle of Religious Freedom

Reviewing Religious Liberty and the American Founding, by Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Thomas Kidd writes:

People involved in American political life in the late 1700s disagreed vehemently about the proper approach to church-state separation. But Muñoz shows that there was near-universal agreement among people of widely differing faiths and ideologies on religious liberty as an inalienable natural right. A “natural” right was one not granted by government or by any human authority. Such rights were part of the natural order; they resulted from principles derived from “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” as the Declaration of Independence put it. These rights were “inherent” in the sense that they inhered in human nature, and all people rightfully enjoyed them. . . .

In one of his more controversial conclusions, Muñoz insists that there is little evidence that the Founders would have believed that “free exercise” must allow conscience exemptions from otherwise constitutional laws. He puts a great deal of emphasis on the fact that debates over exemptions (or replacements, to be more precise) from militia service for Quakers and other pacifists almost never cited the requirement of protecting free exercise of religion.

This is a worthwhile observation. But I wish that Muñoz had given more space to the Constitution’s own religious “exemption”: that of allowing people to “affirm” rather than swear to support the Constitution. This was an accommodation of Quakers’ scruples and those of anyone who literally applied the Bible’s injunction against swearing oaths. The existence of this alternative for conscience, within the Constitution itself, suggests that the Founders believed the government should not unduly burden or violate people’s religious conscience in crafting civil laws or even in framing the Constitution. Exemptions or alternatives were a familiar option among the Founders as paths to avoid this classic dilemma.

Read more at Acton Institute

More about: American founding, First Amendment, Religious Freedom

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation