This I Believe

Chad - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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It is my belief that every individual has the right to religion or lack thereof. I believe this because religion is such a large part in the majority of cultures around the world, yet so many different kinds. There are wars over religion and many different attacks on individuals’ religion right here in the United States. In addition, I have personally experienced issues over religion. I believe that these things are wrong and that everybody, if not just by law, should have freedom of religion and should face no scrutiny for their personal religious beliefs.

One large scale example of how religion affects people all over the world is religious wars. A religious war is a war justified by religious reasons. Frequently cited historical religious wars include the French Wars Revolution, the Crusades, and the Reconquista. More recently, however, many believe the 9/11 terror attacks to be stemmed from the Muslim religion. All of these conflicts have been disputes and attacks over religion and are large scales examples of how the world is affected by religion.

Another current example of how religion has a great impact is the negative comments made by Virginia congressman Virgil Goode regarding Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison’s reported intentions of having the Koran present at his swearing in ceremony in January. Ellison is the first Muslim elected into congress and his use of the Koran at his swearing in ceremony will most likely set a precedent for future Muslims elected into office nationwide. In his letter, congressman Goode makes many anti-Muslim immigration statements, calling for more strict immigration policies to keep Muslims out of America. Aside from the bigotry exemplified in the letter, I believe that there should be no attack on Congressman Ellison’s Muslim faith because it is in no way a means of him doing a poor job as a congressman of America. In addition to this, I believe that there should be a separation of religion and state, which although it is said to be in America, it is not evident considering the phrase “in god we trust” on our country’s money.

What led me to believe this so strongly? This past summer I moved to Florida from Connecticut. In Florida I faced negative attitudes towards my lack of religious affiliation. I have no religion, was not baptized, and do not believe in any god or higher power. Due to this, my choice to not practice any religion was heavily contested this summer as religiously affiliated Floridians tried to convince me to practice their religion. This angered me because although I choose to not to practice religion and don’t believe in the same things as religious people, I do not try and force my beliefs on anybody. Therefore, I arrive at my strong belief that all people should be allowed if not just legally but in practice to have freedom of religion or lack thereof.