Posts tagged ‘Seperation of Church and State’

July 23, 2009

Religious Bigotry On The Rise

by lewwaters

Submitted by Sharon Long

Religious freedom is under assault in our country. Under the guise of “Separation of church and state” that does not appear in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, people are attempting to remove religious speech from the public square.

I was working a political booth at Esther Short Park on Saturday, July 18, when a vendor came up to us asking our position on religious speech in the public park. When I expressed support for it, quite a discussion ensued. This person believed that freedom of religious only meant I could go to any place of worship I desired, not that I had the freedom to express my religious thoughts. In fact, he believed that any public expression of religious thought must be banned from the public square because of “Separation of church and state”.

He went so far as to say he had a right not to be “offended.” Since when? We are guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is nothing that says we have a right not to be offended. Lots of things that happen in public offend me. Some humor offends me but others find it hilarious. Where is our “tolerance” of differing points of view? For some it seems to stop with religion.

How can allowing personal expressions of faith in public be establishing a religion? It doesn’t. The flip side of the establishment clause is that government cannot be ‘hostile’ to religion and that is what this individual proposes. He proposes singling out religious speech to censorship. Prohibiting free speech in the public square certainly violates the Bill of Rights portion that says the government cannot “establish a religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof.” A huge part of the Christian faith is expressed in evangelism, seeking to share our faith with others. Our forefathers wanted to insure that freedom by allowing freedom of religion. The term ‘separation of church and state’ is used to justify just the opposite. Our freedom of religion is being distorted into freedom “from” religion in the public square. We must not allow that to happen. We must raise our voices whenever there is an attempt to silence us. I am not a member of the religious group at Esther Short Park, but I am publicly protesting any attempt to remove them against their will. I applaud the management of the Farmers Market for standing up to religious bigotry.