religious freedom – a misnomer?
Perhaps we see the religious world differently, you and me. I look at religion with wonder, fully accepting out of curiosity and trust the beliefs of any religion I encounter. My eyes are wide open and my thoughts are not skewed by a fear of reprisal from a different cultural religion coexisting freely in the United States.
Trust takes on great importance when it’s but given rarely. Trust is only as liberated as we are in our thoughts and in our communications with each other.
We are only human, but do we allow our humanness to sit on a back shelf when it comes to religion?
Today religion has grown beyond itself and I fear that freedom of religion (or freedom FROM religion) will not be our (sacred) right if we allow ourselves to fear an Islamic religion.
The only thing to fear is the loss of our freedom to worship with a group of like-minded persons. If we take this right away from another group of persons, who is to say someone will not take our religious freedoms away?
The US embraces “religion” and it’s everywhere around us. It’s in politics; it’s on TV, in our schools, on our money, in our anthems.
The US wants to be “God-fearing” because it sees this as noble. But, these so-called noble allowances for religious freedoms have been hijacked by a sense of righteousness, or a sense of superiority.
Then there is the duplicitous “Religious Right” who want to make hate legal – to allow it to trump the freedoms of some individuals…. But that is another story for another day.
Today I want to talk about religious freedoms because I don’t want to loose mine; and I don’t want you to loose yours.
Look at this image. What do you see? Do you see an old woman? Do you see a young woman? Do you see both?
You should see two women. Keep looking until you see both.
I hope you see both. If you do, then perhaps, your mind is also open to accepting how perfectly natural it is for Muslims to worship any where they please in this free country of ours. Since religion is a religion unto itself, so too are an old woman and a young woman one in the same.
If you see two women in the image above, then perhaps you will appreciate the cultural and rich religious diversity that an Islamic Mosque would bring to the sad and hollow earth we know as “Ground Zero.”
Should we not allow a Mosque to be built at “Ground Zero” the US will become shallow with hearts that are spray-painted with dull monochromatic apathy. I trust that all religions want to mourn the victims of 9-11. Islam, too.
If we fear the Islamic religion, my friends, we will have serious problems down the road. If we fear Islam or any religion will that not engender hate eventually?
The U.S. must open its eyes wide and see that we all want the same things: Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, even agnostics and atheists too, all want the same thing: to live in a peaceful world where we can have the freedom to pray (or not) to the God or Universe of our choosing.
Pastor Martin Neimoller wrote these words as a result of his experience in World War II:
They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.
He was speaking of the unthinkable persecutions and horrors he and others witnessed when Germany was overrun by Hitler. However, the context of this speech was the ultimate of ironies because Neimoller was himself a Nazi sympathizer until he was arrested himself for not supporting the regime sufficiently. He was in death camps for seven years. It was after he was liberated that he spoke thus. (K. Olberman, 2010)
Please don’t think that I am comparing what Neimoller experienced with the situation in New York City, I am not making that comparison at all. However, these words ring richly in my ears as a warning missive should we refuse to open our hearts and minds to the loving and peaceful intent of Muslims among us.
It’s really so simple. But, in truth, nothing is simple when passion that is brushed in an apathetic hue, colors our trust.