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Religious Misconceptions

October 15th, 2015

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

 

For those of you who are unaware, that is the clause in the First Amendment that clearly gives American citizens the right to choose their religion and practice it freely. It is one of the five elements of the First Amendment, alongside freedom of speech, press, association and petition of the government.

 

As the vast majority of us are taught in elementary school, the United States was founded upon this idea of a “melting pot”—people of various backgrounds and ethnicities coming together to form a diverse nation.

 

The founding fathers gave us the right to practice our own faiths—or to choose not to do so at all—as explicitly stated in the Constitution.

 

So, if it is put that clearly in the document upon which we have built our country, why, in 2015, are people still saying the U.S. is a Christian nation?

 

Since the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015 that all states have to allow same-sex marriages, I have heard more noise about how the ruling goes against the Christian foundation of this country and that the Supreme Court justices disregarded Christianity when ruling.

 

Well, yeah, they did; sorry to burst your bubble, but there was zero reason for SCOTUS to consider it, because we aren’t a Christian nation.

 

As previously stated, the Constitution clearly states citizens of the United States are granted the freedom of religion. In addition, nowhere does it state that its citizens have to follow Christianity. After all, that would be contradictory. It’s almost as if those drafting the Constitution had that in mind.

 

Huh, go figure.

 

If that’s not enough to convince you, Article VI of the Constitution reads, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

 

This clause has been historically interpreted to mean that federal officials do not have to follow a particular religion or faith in order to qualify for office.

 

So, when republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” and later told The Hill that the president should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not the Koran,” he was extremely and blatantly wrong.

 

Side note, Ben: not only were you factually incorrect, but your comments seem a bit Islamaphobic. Educate yourself before making erroneous blanket statements.

 

Moving on.

 

I’ve heard more and more recently about how we are “moving away from the Christian values that this nation was founded upon.” Frankly, that’s just a bit silly considering that they never took priority.

 

After all, Thomas Jefferson is largely considered a Deist by most historians, Benjamin Franklin generally rejected religion altogether and James Madison frequently wrote of his skepticism toward Christianity.  Do you really think that those individuals—alongside others—would draft the Constitution keeping Christianity in mind?

 

I don’t write this column as a Deist, an Atheist or an Agnostic. I write it as a Christian, thankful that I have the freedom to practice my religion in this country. At the same time, I’m grateful that those around me are able to practice their religions, or to choose not to at all.