It is Sunday morning. Big paper day. Football and other ball games day. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes day. Church day for Christians. Rest-day for all the other religions in our country. Mall-sale-day. Day-off-work day (for some). Alway-a-work day for firemen, paramedic, hospitals and law enforcement, etc. It is Sunday morning!
I have to turn on TV or look at my computer to decide what to do. I am retired and days come and go without my notice, my routine not changed, an endless vacation it seems. It might be Sunday but then every day feels like Sunday!
But today I woke up knowing it was Sunday and thinking about how free we are in this country. Did you know that there are countries where the only religion is Christianity or Muslim or atheism? My daughter had a friend from the Republic of South Africa when she was in high school. Nel was his last name and he was Afrikaans. I will never forget the conversation they had about religion. My daughter, being her mothers daughter, asked some hard questions about the people that were native to that country and about religion. Christianity was the answer for the religion. My daughter wanted to know about Muslim and Buddhist. Oh, we don’t do that in our country was his answer.
My daughter was astounded. How could that be. That is what I woke up thinking about this Sunday.
When we were in Santa Fe I did a lot of online research about things we had seen. I was doing some checking on the Madonna I wrote about the other day. In the piece I was reading the writer talked about a totally Christian nation, perhaps a Catholic nation. I was not sure. But I was reminded of our founders reasons for stating very clearly that we would have a separation of church and state.
I seems that human kind can get along in public life as long as we don’t discuss religion (and politics). It is such an individual thing and each of us are born with a different part of our maker inside us. Our reason for being here are different. Our personalities are different. I truly believe that there is a reason, all be it hidden, for this part of our nature.
So when our founders stated that we would, in essence, not discuss or make religion a part of our government, it was almost as though there were divine intervention. They somehow knew that when we started do that, we would fall into a pit of hateful rhetoric and blame. We would somehow begin to think that anyone that disagreed with us did so because of religious beliefs. The “I am right and you are wrong/going to hell” rhetoric would begin.
So they set up our government taking all the moral tenets that, perhaps, all humans on the face of this earth either live by or hope for and made them into a constitution, and later a bill of rights. It was and is a grand and wonderful experiment, founded on a wonderful idea. And the idea, first and foremost, was that we would have freedom of religion AND separation of church and state. Some things on which we just can’t seem to ever agree and compromising is not an option. Religion is one of those things. Compromise, the one word they left out of our constitution…but probably what democracy is all about. We have all come to realize that with out everyone giving a little, compromising, democracy will not work!
That is why we don’t allow prayer in school. (The fact that we pray in the houses of congress cannot be explained, at least to me. The fact that our pledge of allegiance includes a God is a puzzle. But, like prayer, if you don’t want to say “under God” don’t.) The constitution says government supported institutions will not impose any particular religious belief on the people. In a country where there are a multitude of beliefs, which prayer do you choose? So teach ethics, teach citizenship, teach inclusive philosophy and understanding. Teach and lead with the constitution as our guide line. Pray in private!!! In fact pray whenever you want. No one ever said you couldn’t and, I think, we should always do it silently. We should pray to our very own deity inside.