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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Religious Freedom in the United States: Debatable

Many Americans, if not all Americans, proudly proclaim that we have religious freedom in the United States of America. I put forth that the topic of religious freedom in the United States is debatable. Religious freedom may exist technically in the United States; but, it does not necessarily exist in everyday America reality.
I have often heard it said by many, many people that the United States is a Christian nation. I have heard people say that the Founding Founders of our country were Christians and that this country was founded on Christian beliefs. Numerous people advocate and want to pass legislation permitting prayer in public schools, at public gatherings, and elsewhere throughout the governmental and public sector. There are any number of American city, county, and state governments that use public funds and public property to display symbols that are linked to specific religions. The Moral Majority has a political agenda that essentially lobbies for legislation that institutionalizes their religious concepts and imposes those concepts as law on all Americans.
As a first-generation American, I cannot claim a rich family history going back a hundred or two hundred or three hundred years, but the United States of America is my birthplace. Therefore, America’s heritage is my heritage.
One of our country’s Founding Founders, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was a powerful advocate of liberty and a staunch proponent of religious freedom. The University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, has some very good web pages entitled Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government. I encourage you to visit the section on Freedom of Religion to obtain some extensive information on Jefferson’s thoughts and statements in the cause of religious freedom.
You may say that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for religious freedom in our country. After all, the First Amendment does state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and then it continues about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right of people to assemble peacefully, and petition Government for a redress of grievances. All of that is in just one small sentence. Yeah, well, over the past 200 plus years, there has been much discussion and debate, as well as numerous court rulings, on the issue of religious freedom as it relates to the First Amendment. I suggest you read the full one sentence text of the First Amendment and annotations over at FindLaw.
Back to full circle. Traditionally, overall, our American history is abundant with Anti-Semitism, even reaching into the White House itself. People of the Jewish religion have been the recipients of much discrimination in the United States of America. And now, another religion with an extremely large number of adherents has come under attack. Not only do vast numbers of Americans advocate and proselytize Christianity as a part of American society, culture, and political scenery, it is no longer uncommon to hear Americans condemn Islam. Not only has Islam come under attack by so-called “good Christians” but there has also been a growing outcry to forbid any further immigration of Muslims into the United States. There are far too many ignorant people that have labeled all followers of Islam as terrorists.
In the world of reality, I do believe that topic of religious freedom in the United States is truly debatable.

1 comment:

Hooda Thunkit said...

And here I was taught that our founding fathers founded this country on Judeo-Christian beliefs and principles ;-)