Religious freedom is said to be a basic human right. Who said? The authors of our constitution. The first amendment which reads, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; made it possible for a Mormon to a Presidential nominee.
First, by saying this, I am neither congratulating nor ridiculing the Republican presidential candidate. My point has little to do with politics, outside of the constitutional rights of Americans. I feel I am, in a way, pursuing a sort of push back against those who think the laws of the constitution, this portion of the first amendment in particular, is a waste. Here’s why I think otherwise.
Last week, with a few moments of down time one evening, I watched Rock Center on NBC. The program featured a highly promoted “expose’” on Mormonism. I watched and learned. While I do not believe in the religious doctrine, I saw with this community, a sense of service toward their “fellow man”. They hired fellow Mormon missionaries, set up Costco style warehouse stores for their needy, staffed with volunteers who were otherwise well-to-do businessmen and women. They served one another.
I saw similar behavior among Jews when I lived in an Orthodox neighborhood years ago. The looking out for one another was God’s order–and it was to be followed. Within the Christian faith, the Salvation Army has made goodwill a mainstay in mainstream communities. There are networks of faith, that help, harvest and herald their own. A but, goes along with that.
Many look at the conservative “Christian right” as an accurate example of Christianity in America. Gun-toting, racist, sexist, excessively rich, with no pity for the poor. Mormons have shared the same disturbing characterization with Rmoney, a clever faux paus, Romney staged himself during a public appearance. Detached, greedy, cult, Mormon. At the other end of the spectrum, Hollywood, home of the liberal extreme, has been a haven for Scientology. Many have concluded that religion is unspeakably, well, weird. Even efforts like the establishment of drug rehab centers have been targeted for making false and even dangerous promises. And that’s pretty much the only kind of news we hear about them.
Of course those of the Jewish faith have endured some of the worst prejudice, aside from black people in this country. Yet their schools, and community centers, have been extremely influential. Also, Muslims have had to contend with the greatest misconception of all, that they are all committed disciples to a terrorist religion.
Religion in this nation has lost its beauty, its purpose, skewed not only by media misconception, but inner degradation. It is hard to defend a religion I believe in, within a society that has banned prayer in schools, and wants “In God we trust” erased from money and federal buildings. The truth is greed, misdirection, and prejudice has maliciously defaced pretty much all religions. But there’s a there, there. They have a core of goodness, and in my belief Christianity in particular holds a specific truth.
Religions need to be reshaped, evolve even, but at their core they need to be left alone, to exist. The RNC’s open commitment to prayer at its convention is to make a point, that being they have the freedom to do so. For that effort, they need to be applauded, not ridiculed because of another’s disbelief.
Again, I do not believe every religion is right, but I do believe in everyone’s right to be religious. It is after all a basic human.