Freedom of Religion only works if it works for everyone. Thankfully, here in the United States, it does just that. Feel free to thank whomever or whatever you choose.
Some will claim we live in a Christian nation founded on Biblical principles, but that is not actually true.
We live in a secular nation founded on the U.S. Constitution, which protects your freedom to be a Christian if you so choose, and to live by Biblical principles, whatever you interpret those to be.
It also protects the freedom of those who choose otherwise.
It’s kind of a beautiful thing.
If you’re a Muslim, no one can make you eat pork. If you’re a Christian, you can load up on the bacon and ham with a big greasy grin on your face. If you don’t subscribe to any religion at all, the world is your buffet.
It even works well within Christianity. Southern Baptist? No one can make you say a Hail Mary. Catholic? No one can keep you from wearing your “I love the Pope” hat to the mall.
Do you think gay marriage is a sin? Ok, fine. Check your fiancé’s genitals before the ceremony and everything should be a-ok. Just remember it’s not your place to peek inside the pants of other people’s partners. So you can go your married way and let others do the same.
See how that works? You get to live YOUR life according to your beliefs. You don’t get to force others to live THEIRS that way. And they don’t get to force you to live their way either.
This is how our funny little government works for everyone. This is why it’s a handy dandy thing to remember that, should you seek an office or a job in government, YOU ALSO WILL BE WORKING FOR EVERYONE when you clock in each day.
It’s also good to remember this is why the courthouse lawn and other tax payer funded facilities are not churches or temples or mosques.
The Ten Commandments may look lovely hanging in your church or on your wall at home, but, unless you want to allow symbols of other religions including nine-foot bronze statues of a half-man-half-goat with curly horns from the Temple of Satan to greet you when you go to the DMV to get your plates renewed, it’s really best to leave those things up to the private individual to display.
Any Pentecostals cool with a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe at your state Capitol building? No? Well, then maybe you get my point.
Your church, however wonderful it may be, has not been appointed to govern those who don’t wish to attend it. Your holy book, however full of wisdom you find it to be, has not been passed into legislation.
And if you ever study what happens when any religion is given a pass to govern with that kind of power, you’ll thank God it isn’t that way here.
Photograph: Praying for Prey by Rolf Brecher on Flickr
Ken Robert is a guy who can’t not write, writing things he can’t not say. If you can’t not read them, click here and sign up for free updates.