Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Read the first amendment, please

...stepping on soapbox now...

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1791. It guarantees freedom of religion. It GUARANTEES the freedom of religion. Got it? I hope so. This means we have NO NATIONAL RELIGION. We don't. We are not a CHRISTIAN NATION. We are a nation where everyone is free to worship in their own way, or in no way at all. This is part of our birthright as Americans. I can be a Muslim, and a true, patriotic American. I can be an Atheist, and be a true, patriotic American. I can be a Baptist, a Mormon, a Buddhist, and be a true, patriotic American.

My fellow Americans are supposed to respect that freedom. They are not supposed to cast aspersions on my patriotism because I worship in a different way. They are supposed to fight for my right to worship in my own way, and I am supposed to fight to see that their rights are equally respected.

This means that even if I disagree with your beliefs, even if I think you are a fucking moron, I acknowledge, respect, affirm your right to go to hell in a handbasket in your own unique way. I defend your right to believe what you want.

My rights end where my fist meets your nose, or where yours meets mine. I can believe whatever I want, I can worship how I want. You can believe what you want, you can worship how you want. You cannot do me harm through that worship, and I can't do you harm with mine. You can believe I am evil, you can pray for my eternal damnation, but you can't set fire to my church, you can't burn a cross on my lawn. You can't break the laws that protect us all, as part of worship. One freedom does not cancel out another.

I believe this extends to hateful acts. I think that burning religious texts of other faiths, when done publicly, is a hate crime. You want to burn a Quran in your fireplace. Go ahead, no one is watching you. If your faith demands it, go ahead. But make a big public bonfire, and toss the Quran into it, and you are committing a hate crime, punishable by law.

This is as it should be. Because the first amendment implies that we must embrace and accept religious diversity as part of our being American citizens.

---- stepping off soapbox now -----

No comments: