We must protect religious freedoms

To the Editor:

Some like to claim that ours is a Christian nation. But this was not the intent of our Founding Fathers. While a majority of our citizens may identify themselves as Christian (as do I), there is nothing in our Constitution that names our nation as Christian, or gives special recognition to Christianity. The Constitution is a wholly secular document and makes no mention of Christianity or Jesus Christ. In fact, the Constitution refers to religion only twice — in the First Amendment, which bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and in Article VI, which prohibits “religious tests” for public office. Both these provisions are evidence that our country was not founded as officially Christian.

The Founding Fathers did not create a secular government because they disliked religion. Many — though not all — were believers themselves. Yet they were well aware of the dangers of church-state union. They had experienced religious tyranny and oppression — either in Europe before they came here, or in one of the early colonies that allied religion with government. Determined to prevent such religious persecution here, they adopted a Constitution that insured the separation of church and state.

We can be thankful they did, as we have freedom of religion today precisely because neither government nor church can impose its will on the other. We must make sure that this dividing line is maintained, and guard with vigilance the assurance that our friends in the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other faiths have the same freedom and protection for practicing their faiths as do Christians. There can only be freedom for us if we protect the freedom of all by preventing the imposition of our faith on adherents of the others.

 Doug Wingeier


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