Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Freedom of Religion

I've been thinking about religious freedom. The success of this nation depends on religious freedom. In almost every other country where people are not free to practice the religion of their choice, even not to practice at all, we find a certain homogeneity, a demand for purity and uniformity of thought among all. This lack of pluralism limits the views that can be considered in political discourse and discourages expression of dissenting views.

So it is with a heavy heart that I find that the Republicans, that Grand Ol' Party, have been promoting the idea that the United States is a Christian nation. The platform of the Texas Republican Party offers a good example. I find it hard to believe that the matter is even a subject of debate when the Constitution is so clear in the First Amendment on its face. Their words leave little doubt as to what they mean to say.

The passage, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is important enough to be the opening clause of the First Amendment. Yet, platforms of the various state chapters of the Republican Party make it clear that not only do they believe that this country is a Christian nation, they want to tear down the wall that separates church and state. That is really scary.

I wonder if they have considered the ramifications of what would happen to this country if they managed to make the United States in their vision of a Christian country. What about everyone else?

Many of the founders of this country were Christian, to be sure, but they came here to escape the religious tyranny of the King of England. They came here to practice their religion as they understood it to be. They found what works for them and stuck with it. Though many of them were Christian, some devout, they all knew the danger of a state established religion.

We have modern day examples of the danger of state sponsored religion. One need only look to Iran to see the ultimate conclusion: complete and total subjugation of women, dissent is either completely absent or hidden, and anyone who is not actively practicing the state sponsored religion is cast in a second, lower class. Is that what the Republicans are preaching? That is my impression. 

I don't want to see a state sponsored religion in these United States and I hope I never do. I do want a diversity of religions, which we now have. For it is only through human exploration of spirituality in all of its forms that we arrive at a state of mind better known as peace.
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