I believe that religion in the United States is best represented as unique
characteristic that we all share rather than a label on which judgment is
passed. Judgment of an individual based solely on their religion is the result
of ignorance giving rise to intolerance. The racial profiling of the past has
evolved into today’s religious profiling. Social stereotypes have extended into
religion. Basic morals teach people to respect one another, but at the same
time everyone is generally afraid of the unknown. This two beliefs clash when
the topic is religion. People know it is morally right to be accepting of
different religions, but at their core they are afraid of religions that are
foreign to them because they just don’t understand them. The largely intangible
nature of religions enhances this problem.
In a place as diverse as the United States, religious conflicts rise
because everyone has their own way to define religion. With millions of unique
variations on the religion, it is natural that conflict would rise about the
topic. The fact that there is little levity or wiggle room in relation to
religion just amplifies the conflict. Exclusivists see the issue of religion as
inmaleable, with their own opinion being the single truth. It often seems that
such people are the most passionate about religion, and the ones that are the
greatest instigators of religious conflicts.
As a result, I believe the key to religion in the United States is to
remove the seemingly polarizing nature from it. It is a given that everyone has
some sort of belief in religion, even if it is the lack thereof. If all those
opinions can be unequivocally respected rather than judged, I believe that
nearly all the animosity that surrounds religion would disappear.
If religion in the United States was treated with such unspoken respect,
religious freedom in this country would be undeniable. Winnifred Sullivan was
only half right when she proclaimed the impossibility of religious freedom.
While as a strict religious construct religious freedom is an impossibility,
when regarded as a societal value, an unalienable right, religious freedom is
very much a possibility in America.