This I Believe

Eric - Puyallup, Washington
Entered on March 15, 2007

I Believe in Freedom of Religion

One of the tenants that the United States was founded upon was the right of each person to worship God in their own unique way, in accordance with their personal belief system. It is a corner stone element along with the right of free speech that our founding fathers established to be at the core of what it means to be an American. It is somewhat ironic that I find myself needing to express myself as an American by saying that I believe in freedom of religion.

I am a descendant of a people who immigrated first to Canada and then to the Unities States in order to worship God in a manner that was not accepted in the old world and for which they were persecuted. These early Holdemans were Anabaptists in the tradition of the Mennonite and Amish communities. Their beliefs about not baptizing in accordance with main line Christian faiths drove them to leave their homelands and resettle here in North America.

Today there are many new immigrants coming to our country. Some seeking increased economic opportunity, education, freedom from political persecution and even in some cases freedom to worship how they chose.

It is unfortunate but in today’s society I have been hearing voices declaring that the United States is a Christian nation, founded upon Judeo—Christian beliefs. That the founding fathers intended for the United States to be a Christian nation. The reality is that many of our original patriots were deists who generally accepted that there was a higher being, but who were far from the fundamental evangelical Christian belief’s of today.

Other extremist voices are waving the flag of anti-Islam fanaticism stating that it is the Islamic terrorist’s intent to convert the United States to an Islamic state and force our women to wear berkas.

Isn’t the goal of freedom of religion to be “freedom of religion.” It seems unconceivable to me that people who demand their right to practice their faith in the manner that they believe is correct, would deny that right to persons of another faith.

I might anticipate the howls of complaint coming from some Christians decrying what I’ve just said. Questioning what my own belief’s are. So let me elaborate by stating that I believe that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God died for my sins, rose from the dead and that the only path to heaven for anyone is by believing in his death and resurrection for mankind. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and that it is only through my faith in Christ, by being baptized and accepting the Holy Spirit into my life that I have the hope for eternal life in heaven. I believe that anyone who does not have this belief is going to hell. No matter how good a Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim you are.

It is my inalienable right to believe how I choose to, and it is also the right of every other individual to believe in God, or not believe in God, how they choose. Every Wednesday morning I gather with a small group of men to do a weekly Bible study at a local Denny’s restaurant. I would welcome any other faith in joining us in just such a public setting to practice their spiritual beliefs, without recrimination or persecution of any type.

Freedom of religion does not mean just freedom to chose a Christian denomination. It means that all people are welcome to our shores, all faiths are permitted, and the only crusade should be that of each of us defending our right to worship God as we each individually see fit.