Part 3 – Freedom of Religion 

         When I first saw that people were circulating inflammatory E-mails about Barack Obama’s alleged Muslim religion, I was furious.  I wasn’t angry that he “lied” about his religion or that a Muslim might get into the White House.  I was livid that IT MATTERED.  He can’t step into the White House and declare this an Islamic Nation.  We have very stongly protected religious freedoms, and even is he tried, Congress would have to approve his measures, and the Constitution would have to be altered forever.  If he wants to lay down his mat, and pray facing Mecca five times per day in the White House, how is that any different from any other President leave the WH every Sunday to attend church?  Or Saturday to go to the synagoge?  If he can run the country efficiently, why do his religious beliefs matter?  Are we that biased and judgmental?

          When the first European settlers came to these shores, many of them came because they no longer wanted to be ruled by The Church.  They established new religious sects and practices, and then felt it necessary to safeguard those new establishments.  Because of their acts, I am legally protected if I am a Catholic, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist, Lutheran, Wiccan, Agnostic, Polytheist, Animist, Nihilist, Atheist, Methodist, even if I worship Satan, or am just religiously neutral.  You cannot force me to believe or practice as you believe and practice.  You can’t force me to send my children to your church, temple, synagoge, or other place of worship.  You cannot deny me or my children an education or other services and goods based on my religious preferences. 


          I have seen bumper stickers that read, “Freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.”  So as long as I believe something pre-established, it’s okay?  What if I just feel that there is divinity in everything, and therefore, praying in a building or singing hymns is silly?  I should be persected for that?  Or what if I just haven’t made up my mind yet?  What’s great about our country is that even if your bumper sticker IS correct, you still can’t make me “choose” a faith.  You can’t make me believe or torture me until I relent and say I believe.  It’s my right to practice or not as I see fit.  No uniformed official will show up at my door and cart me off to a prison camp because I choose not to worship “the right way.”  I can walk down the street wearing the biggest crucifix I can find, and no one can legally harm me because of my choice.  I can jump up and shout “Praise Jesus!” on the city bus, and there won’t be armed guards waiting to capture me at the next stop.

          I love that I can worship or not.  I love that I can pray or not.  I love that even my children can grow up and adopt a faith different from my own, and there isn’t a legal thing anyone can do about it.