Waving the banner of freedom of religion

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, November 22, 2004

I find it interesting and hypocritical that people like Christina Hoffman (Nov. 15 letter) are the first to leap up and wave the banner of freedom of religion as the cornerstone of this country, as if they themselves have never sought to deny others the freedom to believe as they wish. This country was indeed settled by Puritans, a Christian movement created in the mid-1500s and later resulting in emigration from England in the 1600s, largely because of disagreement over the amount of influence religion had over public policy in England. This included laws affecting daily life as well as how and where one was allowed to worship.

But did the early settlers of this country, having achieved their asylum and able to believe as they chose, extend this same right to others? How many people have been killed by disease or persecuted and irrevocably changed by missionaries in the name of Christianity? What about the many Native Americans and Native Alaskans who were forced to give up their gods, rituals, culture, and languages by missionaries or public policy shaped by Christian ideals? What about their right to freedom of religion?

President George W. Bush has made it no secret that he would like to turn as many of his own religious ideals into policy as he can, including amending the constitution. These policies will govern a far different country than the early colonies - a country of varying lifestyles, races, and beliefs.

Please take a good, long look at how you and the faith you choose of your own free will historically and currently treats the faiths and ideals of others before you proudly wave freedom of religion as your personal moral flag. You certainly have the right to believe others will go to Hell if they do not worship as you do, but if you support imposing your religious beliefs on others who have chosen differently than you through the laws and policies of this country, haven't you become exactly what early Puritan settlers of this country fled in the first place?

Sheila Box


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