As I've mentioned, I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt and I am increasingly alarmed in the direction my country is moving. Our foremothers and forefathers came to this place so that they would not be persecuted for practicing their religions the way they believed. I've been visiting a great site that I found while looking for famous quotes about religious tolerance. Please visit: http://www.religioustolerance.org/firstfreedom.htm.
I hope the following excerpt will remind people about who we are, or at least who we should strive to be during these frightening times.
"Religious freedom is theoretically guaranteed by the first sentence in the Bill of Rights -- the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
However, like all rights, they have to be rigorously enforced. In this case, they must be defended against two main groups:
Those who wish to convert the U.S. and Canada into theocracies in which only one religion is supreme, and most activities become either compulsory or illegal. These groups attempt to restrict or eliminate all religious expression and action other than their own. To see what this is like in the real world, consider the lack of freedom in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Those who wish to eliminate the right of individuals to express any religious belief in public.
The first phrase of the First Amendment is referred to as the establishment clause. It has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court as erecting a wall of separation between church and state -- a phrase lifted from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist group. Jefferson was a firm believer in "the wall." He regularly refused to authorize presidential proclamations of prayer, thanksgiving and related religious matters. He felt that such proclamations were the responsibility of religious institutions, not of the government."
Please visit: http://www.religioustolerance.org/firstfreedom.htm