I just came across this article: “Christianity under attack: US must do more to promote religious freedom.” It was written by Arizona Senator John McCain and Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council) and published/promoted by (surprise!) FoxNews.com.
As I was reading along, I got to thinking about the core meaning of “religious freedom” and turned to Google to do a little research. One of the things I found interesting was that many websites used the terminology “freedom of religion” rather than religious freedom. I wondered … is there a difference? I tend to think there is. To the point that many believe “religious freedom” actually means “Christian Religious Freedom.”
Then I came across this article: “American’s True History of Religious Tolerance: The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring — and utterly at odds with the historical record.” Although it was written in 2010, the information is timeless … and should be read and re-read by those who believe their “religious freedom” is being attacked.
I particularly resonated with this from the article:
Madison wanted Jefferson’s view to become the law of the land when he went to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. And as framed in Philadelphia that year, the U.S. Constitution clearly stated in Article VI that federal elective and appointed officials “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
This passage—along with the facts that the Constitution does not mention God or a deity (except for a pro forma “year of our Lord” date) and that its very first amendment forbids Congress from making laws that would infringe of the free exercise of religion—attests to the founders’ resolve that America be a secular republic. (emphasis mine)
In another part of the article, it quotes George Washington:
In closing, he [George Washington] wrote specifically to the Jews a phrase that applies to Muslims as well: “May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
There are a couple of things that came to my mind as I read these two sections. If no religious test shall be required, why the continued outcry from certain segments of the political society related to Obama’s Muslim background? Based on this section of the Constitution, it would seem a Muslim, a Hindu, a Taoist, etc. could hold “any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Or am I missing something?
I also wondered where the good will that Washington put forth is today? From everything I’ve seen and read, anyone outside of the Christian faith is suspect and more often than not is treated with disrespect and contempt.
Another portion that stood out to me:
Late in his life, James Madison wrote a letter summarizing his views: “And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” (emphasis mine)
Can I hear an “Amen!”?