Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Freedom of Religion

Christians understand this phrase. Our country was founded on it. And after a couple hundred years of Independence from England, we still have a latent feeling of gratitude passed down from our early ancestors. Plus we are now in a climate that is becoming less and less tolerant of us. Prayer is no longer allowed in school, God’s name is being taken off of buildings and out of our country’s pledge. You can hardly speak of your faith without reprimand or fear of punishment. Yet we cling to our foundation like a badge of honor and rightly so. Until we have Supreme Court Judges that no longer adhere to the very clear points of this freedom, we are relatively safe and can continue enjoying the freedom of Religious choice.

But what if someone’s Religion is different from yours? Do they or should they expect the same freedoms you do? The authors of our Constitution and Bill of Rights were arguably a Christian majority. So does that mean they were only out to protect us? Normally I have an opinion about these matters and I freely dole out my thoughts for your to chew on and digest. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a passionate viewpoint in this instance but I wanted to try something different. I want to hear from you.

A current news item describes a fallen U.S. soldier who happened to practice Wicca. His Widow is insisting on a Wicca symbol being placed on the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Wall. For those of you that are confused, Wicca is the practice of Witchcraft…a practice very much in opposition to Christianity. Our Bible even speaks of this practice as sin and warns us to avoid it. Add to this fact that the symbol in question is a pentacle which is very similar to a pentagram by my observations.

The U.S. Department of Veterans currently allows 38 other religious symbols to adorn gravesites and memorial walls. This includes the Christian cross and even a symbol for atheists but currently approval for this particular religion is still under debate.

I want to hear from anyone who wants to comment because we all have good viewpoints. However, I am interested in those of you that are American Christians. This group is the one that likely feels conflicted about this matter. On one hand we enjoy the very freedoms that this guy’s widow petitions for. On the other, we have pretty specific beliefs about witchcraft and therefore experience a moral dilemma.

What do you think?

8 comments:

LaShawn said...

This is a hard subject for me.

I am a Christian and am of course very aware of the dangers of Wicca. HOWEVER, freedom of religion is just that FREEDOM under the law. I would say that this man believed in his "religion" and should be allowed to display that no matter how I as a Christian feel.

TheEdge said...

I suspected this would happen from having a MySpace account and Blogger. The comments of today have been divided. So that we have a continued dialog though, I am going to repost what has been said on MySpace by various commenters. Thanks for the participation and enjoy!

Medulla Oblonjoda said...

Speaking as an American Christian (albeit an impious one), I personally don't take offense to public displays of symbolic religious images of beliefs that don't match my own. I support the soldier's widow's and Nevada officials' fight for the Sgt.'s rightfully earned recognition. It's not as though we don't already have conflicting denominations side by side on memorials, US coins, in textbooks and the like.

Posted by Medulla Oblonjoda on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 12:09 AM (MySpace cut & paste)

Ilex said...

We live in America to have the right to our own thoughts, to practice religion freely and to speak freely. Wicca is a way of life, it may not be a fairly practiced one, but it is one. If someone feels strongly enough about this to want a symbol on their tombstone, then who is it to make the decision that it shouldn't be allowed? Who is it to tell the family, no, we disagree with this way of life and therefore you can't have it. That's absurd. I'm so sick of hearing about Scientology and how horrible it is. Why is it so horrible? Because you are a Christian and don't believe in it? Everyone in America is entitled to choose who/what they want to believe in. Scientologists have had the chance to choose Christianity, and they didn't. People who belong to "cults" do it because that may be the only place they find solice. I went to church this past Sunday for the first time in awhile. Did one person at the church say anything to me? No. Did I notice this? Yes. For some people, I can see why this would bother them...wait, I'm getting way off topic here. Maybe I should just write my own blog. So in conclusion, I don't think Americans have the right to judge. But we all do it anyway.


Posted by ILEX on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 9:11 AM (MySpace cut & paste)

Michael said...

Ilex,

So you went to church and no one talked to you? Do people talk to you at the mall? The grocery store? Do you expect strangers to invade your personal space and intrude on your life? You should continue to go to church and you will find a familiar face whom you will feel comfortable with enough to have a conversation. You have to be able and willing to reach out rather than waiting for someone else to come rescue you.

Peace,

Michael

And about the display of the Wiccan symbol I would have to say allow it for tolerance sake, but we should not accept what it represents to be a conventional way of life. It's display is a concession to find common ground and when reached we can begin introducing the others into the way.

Posted by Michael on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 10:42 AM (MySpace cut & paste)

Molly said...

What I have often wondered and am going to say now, with the total realization that I might be chastised and yelled at, is that I would like to revisit what the forefathers, the writers of the Constitution, to which our country holds so dear and which, decades later, still guides every decision made by the US governmment, meant when they said "freedom of religion". The Edge mentioned that most of the Constitution writers were Christian. I would argue that they all were and are in their graves doing flip-flops, as they been since the day they were buried, at the way we have grossly misinterpreted what they meant when they wrote their thoughts so long ago. Now...please bear with me. I am not claiming to know a whole lot about history. I do have a college degree, but was never into knowing the grimy details of everything that has taken place to shape our country. I say that disclaimer so that when my head gets chewed off, no one blames a poor education or my lack of knowledge. I am simply throwing thoughts to the wind. So here goes...

What if "freedom of religion" really meant "freedom to express Christian beliefs". I have heard this argument before, so I am expounding upon it. If the men who came to the US from England had any idea how many religions the world would've developed by this time, they might've been more specific as to what they were inferring in that 3 word phrase. They were escaping England because they were being persecuted for showing their religious beliefs differently, worshiping differently, and even understanding core Christian principles differently, but in the end, they were still CHRISTIAN principles. Therefore, when the writers of the Constitution drafted this illustrious document, they were operating under the pretense of Christianity. If that were the case, then the clause "freedom of religion" applies only to Christianity and not to thousands of religions or spiritual beliefs. This would explain why our common society has such a difficult time completely seperating church and state, because state was founded on church. Imagine with me for a minute that the United States understood this from the beginning. How different would our world be today? I mean, if you look at most original laws in our country, they are rooted in Christian concepts. One could argue that Christian concepts are similar to many other religions, so how can I be sure that the US is rooted in Christianity, but remember who we are talking about. White guys from England. They knew Christianity and non-Christianity, and that's about it. I am somewhat entertained every time I really think about how literal we take everything that these men said. They were human. They were not super-spectacular men who had the ability to see hundreds of years into the future, yet we hang on to every word they wrote like it were timeless. People change and times change, but the root of what this country and its freedoms were founded on, was born from the minds of Christian men. Would they really have wanted to open the flood gates for every type of spiritual exploration humanity could design, including religions who promote suicide, gratuitous sex, devil worship, sorcery or other ideas that go directly against that of the Christian Church? I doubt it. Now I am going to end my debate for a couple of reasons. One, I have written for a long time and don't want to lose my audience. Two, I want to throw it out one more time that I am simply stating an opinion. I rejected the church for most of my teen and adult life, so I understand the hostility people feel towards it. I also love and embrace the freedoms that this country offers. I think it is a novel idea to give people the ability to express themselves. I am just curious, because I am part feline, about what those white men really meant that day in New England, and how daily American life would be different if they had been a tad more specific.


Posted by molly on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 10:49 AM

TheEdge said...

If anymore MySpace commentary pops up, I will continue to cut & paste it over here.

In the meantime, I think it's time for me to weigh in on this issue. If the current policy was that only Christian symbols are allowed in the Military cemetery and memorial walls, I would respect that and agree that this particular soldier deserves no special recognition.

However, as I posted yesterday, they have accepted 38 different symbols one of which represents the atheist. As such, the Wicca soldier deserves to have his symbol posted. We live in a huge melting pot of a country. While I am no proponent of Witchcraft I have to accept that our government gives freedom to all worship practices.

The day that the government limits other religions is the day we Christians need to watch out. I post a letter to Howard Stern in one of my earliest blog entries that exemplifies my point. The day that the government comes down on the extreme users of our freedoms is the day that the rest of us need to fear for our not-so-extreme use of that same freedom. Howard pushes the envelope of free speech. But if we don't protect his right to be crude, then we fail to protect our rights to speak appropriately.

Last but not least, this soldier was serving our nation. Right or wrong beliefs, he paid the ultimate debt for our freedoms. I can live with his symbol being on his grave. Where his eternal soul lies is a completely different debate.

Ryno said...

I think that we should allow him to have his choice of symbols on there, as long as it's not giving us the bird or a naked man! But that doesn't mean we have to recognize it. And there has been a lot more attention given to this issue and wicca (I won't capitalize it because I'm an intolerant bigot!), then if the people in charge of this type of thing had just agreed to let him have it on there. Voila, no story, no outcry, no nothing!

Like I said, we don't have to approve or accept it, but our judgement isn't what matters. God has different ways of handling this stuff, and this soldier, no matter what he did for our country, will have to answer for this to someone higher than all of us.

And I think that the reason we all give some of these other religions so much crap, is because a lot of what they believe is nutty! I mean, a dude writes a book about aliens and it gets turned into a religion. I mean come on, silent births?!?! And wicca might as well be believing the the devil with it's witchcraft and the like. I know I personally believe that there is only one religion, so I guess you could say I believe these other religions are wrong. And like I said, that probably makes me an intolerant bigot, but oh well.

It also makes me giggle that all these people like to dogpile Christianity every chance they get, and even other peoples way of doing things, but get their panties twisted when someone disapproves of their ideals and morals. HARHAR!

Posted by Ryno on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM