Freedom of Religion
We were all taught in school that our forefathers left England to escape religious dictatorships. Okay, there was a lot more to it then that, but it was a big enough deal that they made sure it got honorable mention in our rulebook. They clearly made the point that we were to have freedom of religion here in America. They also used the word "God" in some of their formal paperwork and even on our money. I don't want to argue politics here, but rather semantics. They didn't say "freedom of Christianity," they said "freedom of religion." The boys who wrote up all of our formal paperwork were wordsmiths and they debated long and hard to find the perfect set of words to govern ourselves by. It wasn't decided that we had the freedom to choose whichever form of Christianity that we liked, but whichever form of religion. Religion is in and of itself a much broader concept then Christianity. "God" can mean a lot more then just the Christian definition too.
No, I don't agree with all the bickering and arguing over whether or not there should be prayers in school or if the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. You can't stop someone from praying whenever or wherever they choose. Nor can you force a prayer out of someone either. It's a dumb thing to argue about and not worth being offended over either way. I think it's important to teach out children what our country's Pledge of Allegiance is, but I don't know that it's right to force anyone to state a pledge, especially children. Seems a bit dictator like and kind of like brainwashing. Teach them what it means. Teach them what prayer means. Teach them what making a pledge of any kind means whether it's a pledge of one's allegiance to their country's flag, a pledge of fidelity to a spouse, or a pledge of loyalty to a boss. But also teach them that in this country we have the freedom to make pledges or not. Teach them that in this country we have the freedom to pray to whoever or whatever we like and the freedom not to pray. Teach them just how important that freedom is.
I'm saddened when I hear of Pagan's being persecuted for their spiritual beliefs in this country. Did the Sunday school teachers forget to mention that using the colors green and red for Christmas is Pagan? Did they mention that Christmas lights, yule logs, and wreaths are all Pagan? Did they mention that almost every single Christian holiday is celebrated ironically on top of a Pagan festival? Why do you think we have bunnies, baby chicks, and pretty flowers as part of our Easter celebration? Because it coincides with the Pagan's celebrations of Spring's renewal. From what I can see, Pagans aren't all evil ugly witches anymore than all Christians are white supremacists.
I don't have a deep knowledge of all of the different religions of the world, but I can tell you that it doesn't take much research to see that they're all very much the same. Get past which church uses which secret handshake and which rule book you should follow, and you find that they're all teaching us to respect each other, to love each other, to conduct yourself with honor, and to be good to the planet and animals that we're blessed with. The rest is all dogma and debatable. Nobody has any real concrete proof that their particular form of God is the only one. Who's to say that God or Jesus isn't wise enough to visit more than once using different names and different forms? Wouldn't it make sense given the size of the planet that the rest of the world would need to be given a fair chance at knowing about God too? Is Buddha so very different from Jesus? Their teachings are incredibly similar. Why limit God to a concept that only fits what your particular culture or region of the world knows about?
Another thing that always puzzled me is why prophets and seers are allowed to channel holy books and tell of the Messiah's coming, but then we're told by the churches that being psychic is demonic? It seems a bit contradictory to me. Every psychic I've ever met lost power over their visions if they weren't acting in the highest good. Most of the psychics I've met believe very deeply in a form of God or some sort of a higher magical loving guidance over us. They're visions into the other side created that belief. There's nothing quite like chatting with the All-Mighty to make a believer out of you. Isn't prayer in and of itself a form of telepathic psychic connection with the other side?
It just seems to me that if we quit arguing over what words, labels, and names we give these concepts and quit arguing over methods of prayer and such that we'd see that we're all so much more alike then we are different. I've known three different Catholic men who fell in love with the Buddhist faith because it so beautifully highlights the teachings of Christ. I really believe that is what we're meant to do. All of the holy books tell us to love one another. You can't truly love someone if you don't take the time to really get to know them and what they stand for. Shouldn't we learn about each other from a place of love rather than from a place of judgement? Nobody can prove that anyone else's religion is wrong and nobody can prove that theirs is right. Too many translators over the course of history to be able to be 100% sure about anything any more. We can't really assume that the others are completely wrong and we can't assume that our own religion is completely right. Religion and God is so much more than we can fully understand at this time.
Copyright 2004, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge
Skye Thomas is the CEO of Tomorrow's Edge, an Internet leader in inspiring leaps of faith. She became a writer in 1999 after twenty years of studying spirituality, metaphysics, astrology, personal growth, motivation, soulmates, and parenting. Her books and articles have inspired people of all ages and faiths to recommit themselves to the pursuit of happiness. After years of high heels and business clothes, she is currently enjoying working from home in her pajamas. To read more of her articles, sign up to receive her free weekly newsletter, and get free previews of her books go to http://www.TomorrowsEdge.net.