…land of the free…
The other day I read an article on CNN regarding a community in Tennessee that was divided over whether or not a place of worship was welcome in their community.
Now, I’ve seen this before. There have been numerous examples where a Pagan group looked for a place to gather and getting run out of town in recent years. Usually it begins with someone who doesn’t understand the new group or their beliefs and assumes that they are evil or bad for the community, etc.
Only this time, it isn’t some little known religion with a handful of proponents. This time we’re talking about one of the “big three”.
If you look at the article, the people already live in this community. They already worship in this community. They are not immigrants, they are not moving into the town.
What they are doing is attempting to better their situation, to create a place of worship and education and recreation.
I have to wonder, if this was a new mega church wanting to build the exact same thing, would the community be threatening the congregation, sabotaging the building, vandalizing equipment?
While you’re there, glance down at the comments on the article. For that matter, look at the comments on any of the articles in the belief blog this week. The overwhelming intolerance and hatred flowing there is unbelievable. And not just from any one group.
Sure, a part of it is our proximity to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I get that. Old wounds re-opened. Fear re-awakened. But people there are advocating tossing all Muslims out of the country, even the ones who were born here. They’re demanding that we violate their right to freedom of religion. They’re calling them horrific names and some are even suggesting we should just kill them all and be done with it.
Last I knew, this was still a country where we are free to follow the religion of our choice, or no religion at all. Our constitution guarantees that freedom, not just to those beliefs that you know and understand, but to the ones that scare you (whether or not that fear is justified is a whole other story) too, and the ones you don’t know exist, and the ones that you think are silly….
See, the United States isn’t a Christian country. It isn’t a Jewish country or a Hindu country or a Muslim country…It is a country governed by a secular government that can make no laws with regard to how or who we worship, believe in, pray to, or what have you.
And no matter what you believe in? Your best bet is to defend that freedom. For everyone. Because the minute we make an exception, the moment we decide that it’s free for everyone but that one group we don’t like? That’s the day we all lose. That’s the day that we begin the long fall from a society of freedom to a theocracy. And you may believe you’re right, but there’s nothing saying that when the dust settles and the day is done, it’s your religion that comes out on top.
Consider that the next time you want to tell someone of a different religion to get out of your country. Remember that not every Muslim is born over there and that thousands of them are born here in the good old USA everyday. Citizens. With the same rights and freedoms and duties that you have.
And to those of you who will argue that it is a violent, backward, hateful religion…I will first point to Judeo-Christian history (and in some cases present) and remind you that the bible is full of declarations of war against those who believe differently and what appears to be hateful rhetoric and terrible (by today’s standards) treatment of women and those of other cultures. I will secondly remind you that the constitution makes no delineation between religions that are acceptable and those that are not.
There is no litmus test for citizenship. There is no oath putting the country before your God required, and if there were, I suspect a whole lot of you arguing against Islam would scream bloody hell over it.
Freedom ain’t easy folks. It’s damn hard work.