When you look at the sacrifices made by the early citizens of this country, and those throughout the ages who fought and died for these freedoms, I have to wonder how they would have reacted to the threat of a lawsuit? The King of England, with his world-powerful army and navy, didn’t cause our early leaders to back down from what they believed to be truth, right and just, but today all it takes is a small minority armed with a few lawyers and constitutional interpretations to end long-standing traditions. We need leaders who lead the charge, not the retreat.
Make no mistake about it, respect for a supreme being is woven into the fabric of our country and is worth preserving in our government institutions as well as our private lives. What is the first thing we turn to when tragedy strikes as it did recently in Colorado or following 911? It’s our faith and hope that there is more to life than just this world we inhabit for a short time. There must be room in this country and its government for all forms of religious and spiritual beliefs: Christian, Hindu, Judaism, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim, Mormons, Scientologists, Pagans, Atheists and many, many others. We should be able to agree that we each have strong feelings for our beliefs but we must respect each other’s right to honor those beliefs as each sees fit, without hindering or overtly offending the other.
I understand and agree with the Establishment Clause that prohibits our government from establishing an official religion or showing preference among religions or between religion and non-religion. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from burdening an individual’s ability to exercise his or her religious beliefs if the burden does not arise from neutral law of general applicability but instead infringes upon a particular set of beliefs. But the common denominator to nearly all religious belief is the belief in a Supreme Being. We use different names when we refer to this “Being” and have established unique customs, but the belief in something larger and more universal than our own immediate environment is what this country stands to protect, not diminish. There is room for non-believers, but their rights should also not infringe on the vast majority in this country who do practice their faith in an outward manner. In turn our government officials should not have to hide their beliefs, nor should communities be restrained when demonstrating pride in their faith-based community members and the symbols they use to represent that faith.
Dan Alexander is Associate Publisher of New Market Press. He can be reached at at firstname.lastname@example.org.