I have noticed a lot of people getting all bothered that Good Friday was allegedly over shadowed by Earth Day, both of which were celebrated yesterday, by the mainstream media. The people expressing their dissatisfaction over what they perceive to be a blatant disregard for the day which marks the death of Jesus are, of course, Christian. While I understand and, as a former religious Christian myself, respect their belief in the holiness of this weekend, I still must say to them…Let it go. Not everyone who believes in Jesus believes in his divinity; furthermore, not everyone in American is a Christian. While it may be a holy weekend for most Christians, for millions of other people it is not and we must respect that. This is why mass media does not jump on the religious aspects of holidays, they are trying to appeal to as many people as possible and Earth Day, honestly, has more mass appeal and is least likely to offend people.
Do Christians have the right to celebrate this weekend as holy? Of course, and I am not arguing that they do not. I have nothing against individuals saying that “this is what I believe (insert religious assertion here);” however, I do take issue with people who believe one thing assuming that others should or do as well. While I personally hope that there is a “God,” I don’t know for sure and am therefore more agnostic than anything. Nonetheless I believe Jesus was a real person who set a fantastic example of how we people should live and how we should treat each other. I also believe in the teachings of Buddha and I find a lot of merit in Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and the various indigenous traditions which are practiced around the world. However, I don’t expect everyone to see things from my perspective. With that said, what I do expect is for people to be respectful of the fact that not everyone has the same religious beliefs because that is the law of this land as stated by the 1st Amendment. The disestablishment clause not only protects all manners of Christian belief, and made it possible for all manners of Christian worship from Anglicanism to Mormonism to thrive; it also protects all other manners of belief and non-belief, from Agnosticism and Atheism to Islam to and Zoroastrianism.
My assertion is not based on personal opinion alone, but on my knowledge of our history. Many Americans do not seem to understand how close we came to not having the religious protection, which we now take for granted. In colonial America most colonies did not have religious freedom (save PA, RI, and MD), rather they had established churches. For example, if you lived in Virginia and you weren’t a member of the Anglican Church, you lived with the threat of potential imprisonment hanging over you. As the American Revolution was being fought, a battle for religious freedom was also being waged as other denominations, such as the Anabaptist and the Methodists, began demanding the right to worship freely. This eventually led to two bills being introduced into the Virginia legislature: the first was the Act for Religious Freedom by Jefferson (introduced in 1779, but not enacted until 1786), which would end religious establishment and protect all manners of worship. The second was a bill by Patrick Henry (introduced in 1784, but rejected) which would have established Christianity as a whole not just Anglicanism as the official religion, and would have required all Virginians to support Christianity via their taxes. Jefferson’s bill languished in the House for nearly a decade as the legislature debated it, proposing changes such as adding that religious freedom is protected by Jesus Christ because he would not have agreed with coercing people to be Christian; it was then weighed in comparison with Henry’s bill as many members of the House agreed with establishing the Christian faith. Luckily, multiple petitions were submitted to the House of Delegates by various groups in Virginia, many of them Christian, demanding that Henry’s bill fail to pass.
In the end, Jefferson’s bill won out and influenced the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. Had it gone the other way and Henry’s Bill had been passed then there is a very real possibility that the America we now take for granted may never have existed. We should all be very glad for the fact that there is no established religion as it has given everyone the right to chose for themselves what religion, if any, is right for them, this includes giving Christians the right to chose between the various denominations, rather than having the government tell us what to believe. Religious diversity is at the very foundation of this nation. So when the media promotes a secular holiday over a religious one, do not be offended but be glad that we live in a nation in which every religious and non-religious belief is protected under the law because without the disestablishment clause, which promises religious freedom for all, there would be religious freedom for none.
© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.