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Editorial: Religious freedom for all

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The religious separatists who populated the Mayflower in its journey across the Atlantic did so as much for the ability to worship freely as to escape the oppression of a government-sponsored church. That duality is echoed in those who hold up the Constitution’s First Amendment as protecting the freedom of religion as much as it prohibits the government from requiring fealty to a particular faith.

The role of religion in public life is very much a moving target, one that changes to reflect the evolution of this country from one of strident Judeo-Christian values to a more pluralistic society. It is therefore incumbent upon communities like this — and those elected to serve in public office — to make tolerance of all faiths and belief systems their watchword, ensuring that this is a place of inclusion and respect.

The Greenville City Council routinely opens its meetings with a prayer led by one of its members. That practice was challenged last week by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based non-profit that objected to the prayer at the council’s Jan. 22 meeting that included specific reference to Jesus Christ. The council discussed the issue at its Monday meeting, but has not yet replied to the group.

For the complete article, please pick up a copy of The Daily Reflector. Current home delivery and electronic edition subscribers may log in to access this article at no charge. To become a subscriber, please click here or contact Customer Service at (252) 329-9505.

Comments

A little history

The Mayflower was not just filled with pilgrims. There were 43 pilgrims and 61 others, including a murderer, and a group of military men commanded by Captain Miles Standish. There was many arguments among the three groups as to the governing of the "colony" when they landed. It almost came to a mutiny. However, level heads of the three groups got together and formed what we now know as the "Mayflower Pact", a set of governing rules to live by in the propsed colony. About half died that first winter because they landed on Plymouth Rock in late November. The remaining stuck closely to the rules as Captain Standish enforced them. That being said, the colony would not have survived another winter without help from the local natives giving them food and teaching them how to grow crops.

establishment clause

The Establishment clause was to prevent us from 'establishing' a state sanctioned religion, but I think we may go too far in the name of political correctness. But for those who so vociferously voice their discontent about taking Christ out of government affairs, I would just say 'substitute Allah' as the deity of reference and it will be easier for them to put the shoe on the other foot, and accept that this is a secular govt, religious beliefs belong in the heart and the church, not blanketed on the populace. There is a difference between religious freedom, and a 'Christian government'. I advocate following Christ....in your heart. He can take care of Himself; let's keep our government affairs secular.

Wrong

I defy you to find the word secular in our Constitution. We are a nation of inclusion of all religions. Our government is not secular, rather inclusive. Religious faith sometimes include government affairs. Our Congress opens with a prayer asking for help from a supreme being in doing what is best for all Americans. The president always finishes his speeches, "May God bless the United States of America". Now that is not a Christian mandated government, but a plea for help in our maintaining our freedoms of our nation and admitting that we as humans cannot do it alone. The First Amendment to our Constitution gives every American the freedom to practice their faith and does not say where or when. Our government has never estabished a religion for all, but does, under the laws in our Constitution, guard against those who would take the right to freely practice any religion, at any time, in any place. When our president states "May God bless the United States of America", it is an inclusive "God" of all names God is given. The dictionary describes the word, Allah as: Muslim name for the one and only God. So when one hears Allah, one hears God. There is no difference other than language.

History as interpreted by the Reflector

Paraphrasing your thoughts above, over the years, America evolves from a strident Judeo-Christian culture to one of pluralism and tolerance (!). I think one might counter that over the years a country founded on the free exercise of religion, reflected particularly in the creation of and ongoing operation of schools, falls into a trap of near total public takeover of schools as well as other areas of theretofore private life, and finds that through strong arm tactics, in particular by the Supreme Court, Christianity, or even an "evolving" more "generic" Deism, is replaced by a very vigorous state sponsored Atheism, or perhaps more precisely, an Anti-Christian Pluralism.

The Constitution

Our Constitution states that all religions shall be allowed to be practiced openly in freedom. There is no mention of the feelings of any minorities stated in our Constitution, most likely because our Constitution was written and ratified by minorities of the time who understood that freedom to practice any and all religions was a new concept in nationhood. I agree that if one religious book of scriptures is taught in a public school, then all should be taught equally. Personally, I have attended such courses in a university in which I taught History. It was most interesting. Speakers, Priests, Preachers, Rabbis, Imams, Mormans, Hindus, Wiccans, and Athiests spoke at lengths about the structures of their faith (or non faith), They included their customs and rituals and the reasons why in their faith. To understand why is the first step in respect and tolerance. The one common thread among almost all was the belief of a single supreme being. That supreme being was called several names, but always, just one. To be a minority in a nation of religious faith is taxing at times. Many of us have been to other nations that either had a different faith as a national law or practiced a national or regional faith. Their holy scriptures became laws and customs of which one had to abide by. No drinking of alcohol, women with faces covered walking behind their male companions was foreign to an American. A large ringing prayer column in another nation, all were different. In some nations, the mere stare at a woman was offensive and against the law. Our American women were chastized by local men for not conforming to the national laws and customs. No respect for our minority there. Yet, here in our nation, we learn to respect all religions. Our Constitution gives the freedoms for all religions to be practiced and does not specify where or when. There are those that believe that separation of church and state means secular. The term secular is never mentioned or referred to in our Constitution. That separation means no one national religion and nothing more stated or implied. The dictionary states the meaning of secular is: Of or relating to the doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations. Our nation does not reject religion, rather includes all and the free exercise thereof. In the words of a southern born and southern bred gentleman, it is with all respect to point out to those from Wisconsin, who's motto is "On Wisconsin" a phrase attributed to a young Arthur MacArthur, father of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur yelled as his Wisconsin brigade assualted our defenses at the "Battle of Lookout Mountain" in Tennessee; that they can either respect our freely practiced religion under the First Amendment to our national Constitution or go back up north, their choice.

Reflector, please.

You are talking about a community of 'Necks and Teabillies who know nothing other than the fairy tales that have been handed down to them just like the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. The thought of them accepting any other religion is a fairy tale in itself.

Remember

It's freedom "OF" religion not "FROM" religion.

It should be both

From "from" the zealots and freedom to worship as you please.

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart