December 26, 2009
I would like to believe that I know a thing or two about the bad aftertaste that Christianity can leave behind. And I would also like to believe that I know a thing or two about the good that Christianity does for this nation.
I have never called myself a hippie and the one time someone uttered that word in my direction, I was unnerved. But I don’t have anything against the ethos of a hippie, in fact I find their free-thinking to be most beneficial to society. I personally, however, prefer a union of freedom and structure, of peace and of discipline.
It is this same union of opposing forces that I seek to lay witness to within the American nation. A bridge to conquer the great divide that is Conservatives and Liberals and the growing conflict between those who have faith in an external power and those who have faith in themselves. More directly, I mean the conflict between Christians and atheists.
The thing that got me to write this essay is the debate about Christians being unable to pray during school hours, on public school grounds. And I have often heard Christians making the comment that Muslims on the other hand are allotted time to pray and so of course they argue that this isn’t fair. Well, if it’s true then yes of course it isn’t fair at all.
I have not witnessed this unfair treatment, but if it’s true then I am dumbfounded.
While it is no secret that I have strong feelings against the Holy Roman Catholic Church as an organization built upon lies, greed and many other activities that I wouldn’t feel guilty about comparing to the likes of criminal organizations, I do find the revocation of a Christian’s right to practice their religion to be a clear act against religious freedom.
I have also heard about how they are removing certain religious symbols and items from public places and government grounds because these places are supposed to be inviting to everyone of every religion or non-religion. Honestly, I can’t argue with that one. It would make sense that if not everyone is being represented fairly then no one should be represented.
Or perhaps instead of taking things down, they should be putting more things up. Like the Star of David or the Moon and Star, the Dharma Wheel, the Yogic or Ohm symbol. After all, America was built upon the notion that diversified people could come together and work towards common goals.
Speaking of America being built, Christians often lay claim to the settlement of America and you know what? Can’t really argue with them because most of the people who came here during the Colonial years (1600-1700) were people fleeing persecution in Europe. Ironically, they were fleeing religious persecution. They were people who didn’t agree with the religious beliefs of the Anglican Church of England which were being forced on them and came to the Colonies in order to find their own practices.
There were Puritans, Quakers, Protestants, Lutherans, Catholics and Presbyterians all looking for a better life in the Colonies. However, it didn’t take long before religious beliefs came into conflict with politics and in 1777 the idea of a separation of church and state was put into the First Amendment which was completed in 1789.
So while it’s obviously clear that the Colonies were settled by diverse groups of people, many of whom practiced various forms of Christianity, it is also clear that America was not solely founded for the protection or expansion of the Christian faith, rather for the protection and expansion of religious freedom.
And that brings me back to the treatment of Christians in modern America. Yes, I think that public school children not being allowed to pray before they eat is unfair. No, I don’t think that removing the cross from government offices is unjust, but I do think that it would be better if we put it back up along with other religious symbols in celebration of America’s religious diversity.
What about the atheist or the agnostic? If there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, then why is the term God found all throughout our government documents, currency and courtrooms, especially after the religious revival of the Cold War era, when to not be religious was equivalent to being a communist. How are atheists represented in America? I think they probably ask themselves that same question.
Have you ever thought about what it must be like to be born into a nation that professes God everywhere you go, when you are not a believer or are someone who isn’t sure? It must be pretty overwhelming and intimidating to have that thrown in your face on a daily basis.
Being religiously diverse (including atheists) without persecution is one of those unique things about America, I don’t want that to become something of the past, as I feel it is becoming. Every believer and non-believer should be treated equally.