What is Religious Freedom?

Religious freedom is the notion that people of religion can freely partake of the practices of their religion without opposition. This would not only include private devotions, but also acts of religious significance within the realm of government.

Right now many folks adopt a view religious tolerance, rather than religious freedom. Religious tolerance allows people the right to practice a particular religion outside of the realm of government, and prohibits them from bringing anything of even remote religious significance into the public sector. This is not, as we shall see, what the founders of our country had in mind. The founders of our country recognized the importance of religious freedom, as opposed to simple religious tolerance.

In a pluralistic society such as the United States is today, one will unquestionably ask, "Which religion? There are so many. Should even Satanists be allowed to bring their religion into government?" To answer briefly, no. "Religion" is here defined as some aspect of predominant religion in the history of the Western Europe. Since that is where the progenitors of our Constitutional framers originated, those are the traditions that were primarily carried over. We note many instances of historical religious devotion within the realm of government at the time of the founding of our great republic, but all of them stem from some aspect of a predominant Western religion. Whether we look at Sunday being recognized as a day of rest, or proclamations of thanksgiving, or the hiring of chaplains, they all pertain to some aspect of significant Western faith. Even as we don't allow religions which are inherently immoral or corrupt to practice unchecked in this country, so we should we not flagrantly allow any twisted philosophy, no matter how bizarre or perverted, to have a seat at the state's table.

This is not to say that people of non-Western faiths are not allowed to practice their faiths within the United States, but rather to simply make the case that we know of no historical precedent for United States government involvement with unusual Eastern or pagan religions. Religious devotions in the United States government are virtually always dedicated to the God of significant Western monotheism (e.g., "In God We Trust" on our currency, "One nation, under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, "God save the United States and this honorable court" at the beginning of Supreme Court sessions)..

While religious tolerance is accepted, religious freedom appears to be waning. Granted, during the conservative revolution of the past couple of years the radicals for separation of church and state extremism seem to have moderated themselves somewhat, but still there is much damage left to be undone. Let's undo it.

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