Religious

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Religious

Equality In US

America has been named the "melting pot" of the world. It houses many
different cultures, nationalities, ideas and religions. There are Christians,

Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, Hindus, Spiritualists, Jehovah’s

Witnesses, Islamics, plus many more. America is unique in that all these
religions are represented in a nation that is only 200 years old. And America
has upheld, throughout history, that the freedom and equality of religion is
extremely important in order for this nation to function as a free nation. The
foundations of America were set as a result of England’s persecution; more
specifically, England’s religious persecution. The colonists wanted to create
a nation that allowed people to be free. They desired to speak what they wanted
to speak, do what they wanted to do, and practice what they wanted to
practice... without the government watching their every move. Thus came
religious freedom. The First Amendment to the Constitution states that
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof," meaning that an American citizen
would be able to practice his or her religion without any intervention or
persecution from the government, be it Islam, Judism, Mormonism or Catholicism.

Yet, with religious freedom, comes important questions concerning its existence.

Is religious equality just as important as all the other freedoms... such as the
freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom to assemble, and others as
well? The answer here is yes. If this nation truly stands for freedom, the

American government cannot say that its citizens have the right to speak freely,
write freely, or assemble freely, but then maintain an established national
religion. That would be contradictory, and would not make America any better off
than England, which it had separated from just years beforehand. Certainly, all
the freedoms are equal. On the other hand, unlike the other freedoms mentioned,
religious freedom addresses a different type of need. It addresses the concept
of personal fulfillment, or perhaps, self-realization. Religion attempts to give
answers to basic questions: From where did the world come? What is the meaning
of human life? Why do people die and what happens afterward? Why is there evil?

How should people behave? As a word religion is difficult to define, but as a
human experience it seems to be universal. The 20th-century German-born American
theologian, Paul Tillich, gave a simple and basic definition of the word:
"Religion is ultimate concern." This means that religion includes that
to which people are most devoted or that from which they expect to get the most
satisfaction in life. Consequently, religion provides adequate answers to the
basic afore mentioned questions. Religion is, undoubtedly, a very important part
of life. The second question regarding freedom of religion discusses which
aspect of religion should be considered equal: the structure or substantive
content of religion, or the individual conscience of that religion. Because of
the diversity and impact that religion has in the lives of Americans, the
individual conscience should be treated as equal, not the structure or
substantive content of the various religions. No two religions are alike, just
as no two people are alike. The government cannot make all religions equal in
regards to their individual structure and/or practices because the individual
practices are what make each religion unique; appealing to the individual
conscience. If all religions had to be equal in practice, we would have

Buddhists saying "Hail Mary’s," or Christians bowing to Allah.

Perhaps Catholics would wear orange robes and have shaved heads, and Hare

Krishna’s could sing music out of the Protestant Psalter Hymnal. This would
defeat the whole purpose of allowing freedom of religion in the first place.

Religion must be able to differ in structure and substantive content. People
must be able to practice their own religion in the way they want to... and this
cannot happen if all religions in America are made equal in structure and
practice. The individual conscience in a certain religion, however, must be
treated the same as any other religion. A Christian conscience must be treated
the same as that of a Buddhist conscience. A Catholic conscience must be treated
the same as that of a Mormon conscience, and so on. One cannot discriminate
against a religion if all religions are indeed seen as equal in regards to the
individual conscience. It would be like discriminating against someone because
they do not like coffee with their breakfast. If one decides that they would
rather have orange juice with their bacon and eggs, that is up to them. It is
their choice. And

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