Religious Freedom Means I Am Free Of Your Religion

Real Relationship Advice

What were the real principles of our founding fathers?  Republican’s continually invoke the intentions and beliefs of our founding fathers and the creation of this country even referencing their name from an act of rebellion as a reaction to taxation without representation. These ‘true’ Americans seem to be the real thing from everything from their use of quotes to their daunting love of this nation. But, do these people have any clue what the history of our nation is and on what premises the founding fathers constructed the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution?

If we were to open our American History books up to the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, we will read that the Pilgrims were not tossed out of their country because they wished to exercise their religions. We will find that that sanitized victim story of the poor Pilgrims/Puritans is not true. The truth is that these individuals were fanatics who wished to purify the sin of England. There was too much religious freedom and, as Calvinists who believed that man was sinful and required an ascetic lifestyle to atone for their infractions against God, the freedom of the time was an anathema to their way of life. They continually were found to impose their belief system on others and they were persecuted for continually bucking the authority of the King.

They arrived in this country with the hopes of creating a puritanical society. There were 102 individuals on the Mayflower. Half of them were Puritans who were here for religious freedom but the other half was here to find their fortune.  The issue of religious freedom was imbedded in the founding of this country. To that end, founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson stated the following:

“We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.” –Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Virginia Baptists, 1808. ME 16:320 ? Thomas Jefferson

Our First Amendment clearly states – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So, when we read these things and interpret them to our current political climate where the Republican platform clearly states that we are a Judeo Christian country, I get confused as to their understanding of the founding principles of this nation. Yes, we can say they are going back to the founding principles of the Puritans but if we are to hold our Constitution as the hallmark of the foundation of this country then we must read the First Amendment and interpret it literally. The government cannot be in the business of claiming any religious affiliation!!! However, by saying this I have insulted not only a political belief but a religion and God.

I have no issue with religion, the Bible or God. However, since we live in the United States of America, I respectfully ask that your religion, Bible and God stay out of legislation. That is one of the fundamental divides in this election and country. Those who believe and understand that religious freedom is the right to practice your religion without threat or harm from the government and those who believe that religious freedom means that a religion can impose their beliefs on the entire nation. Jesus told you “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) That is your right as an American. However, when you bring that prayer into the street and demand that the country pray with you then you have not only lost the meaning of your Bible but also of your country.

We have returned to the divisive realities of the Puritans and the King of England. We must return to the commitment of the founding fathers. However, we won’t be able to do this if we continue playing this game of two Americas. You know, the America that supports and respects all religion and the other America who feel that any sign of defiance to the church is a sign of treason to their beloved country. We use to come together during crises. We use to come together to welcome our troops home with love and support. We use to come together under our flag and pledge allegiance to this country. We no longer pledge allegiance to the same country because part of our country believes that we should genuflect to the flag.

Thanks to Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe for correcting my Jefferson quote.

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