Freedom of religion is freedom from religion

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I read John Mielke's letter in Sunday's Juneau Empire, haranguing the "dangers" of the "homosexual lifestyle" with great interest, noting it as one of several along the same line from him. What really are these "dangers?" He doesn't mention them specifically, and it made me think the dangers were hell and damnation - that our society might suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah.

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I believe thoroughly that freedom of religion means freedom from religion; we should all be treated equally under the law regardless of our religious or cultural beliefs, regardless of our sexual preference, because society's benefit is really what the law is about. It exists with our consent to keep the peace and ensure our welfare. What we're talking about here are stable households, and possibly even the advancement of society, whatever that really means. I'd like to think it means equal access to a good education, the ability to express ideas in a tolerant environment, and the ability to walk down the street without being beaten or killed because of one's religious or sexual preference or the color of one's skin.

We can only speak accurately from our experience. The people I know who are living a "homosexual lifestyle" are intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, good parents, community activists, conscientious citizens, leaders and, all in all, people who add, rather than detract, from society as I know it.

Here are a few people we have "allowed" to fill authoritative positions in our society and act as role models for our children: Achilles, Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Ludwig van Beethoven, Aaron Copeland, Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, John Milton, Plato, Sappho, Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Voltaire - it could be argued that our society was invented by gay people. Whether Western society is a good thing remains to be seen, I guess, but it's what we have to work with, and I think the best direction is forward: tolerance, acceptance, diversity of opinion and of belief, and the courage to accord justice to all people, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion (or lack thereof) or their sexual preference.

Do we want to turn back the clock and change our constitution in the direction of intolerance and bigotry? I guess we'll find out.

Jamison Paul


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