U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staffers modified the wording about religious freedom in the country's naturalization study and test materials in response to a request from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) to change the words "freedom of worship" to "freedom of religion" in relation to First Amendment rights.
"Our Constitution does not give us rights; our Constitution recognizes the freedom given to us by God," is the conservative senator's publicly stated opinion.
Lankford wrote to the President Barack Obama administration last year, explaining how the words used to describe religious freedom on the naturalization tests, which were changed in 2008, were not inclusive enough, reports Aleteia.
Specifically, Lankford, the co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and a former Baptist youth ministry leader, sent a letter to Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson last June inquiring about the use of the term "freedom of worship" in question 51 of a naturalization study guide called "Learn About the United States: Quick Civic Lessons."
The senator wrote, "Not only is 'freedom of worship' inconsistent with the text of the Amendment proposed 226 years ago today, saying that 'freedom of worship' is more inclusive than 'freedom of religion' flies in the face of a pillar upon which our entire nation was founded."
"Our forefathers came to America to have freedom of religion, not simply freedom of worship. Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs. It is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all," stated Lankford.
Lankford insisted an immediate change of wording, and even though DHS staffers originally declined his request, upon further review they concluded that it was "feasible."
Citizenship and Immigration Services Director León Rodriguez sent a letter to Lankford on March 28 that stated the department will actually proceed with Lankford's suggested change, reports The Christian Post.
Lankford praised the decision, saying, "I applaud the Department of Homeland Security for deciding to change their material to reflect our First Amendment right of freedom of religion."
At first glance, it appears like a small matter, admitted Lankford. "But it is actually an important distinction for the Constitution and the First Amendment. The 'freedom of religion' language reflects our right to live a life of faith at all times, while the 'freedom of worship' reflects a right simply confined to a particular space and location."
Forty different internal and external Web-based and printed publications reportedly had to be updated as a result of the word modification.