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A Divided America – This Time Over Religious Freedom

Table of Contents

A Divided America – This Time Over Religious Freedom……………….1
Religious Freedom at a Turning Point………………………………………….1
The Birth of Religious Freedom…………………………………………………..2
The Mayflower Compact: An Agreement to Cooperate for the
General Good of the Colony…………………………………………………2
A Constitutional Right: Freedom of Religion………………………………….3
A Frightening Attack on Religion…………………………………………………5
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………… 7

Religious Freedom at a Turning Point

Today, January 15, 2024, begins the first Primary Elections and Caucuses for the 2024 presidential campaign to determine the next President of the United States of American. The people of this Country have endured many perilous trials over the past 250 years of independence. Americans throughout history have rallied together in a united defense against other World conflicts to secure our freedoms. Paradoxically the greatest conflicts which have divided the people of our Country have come from within its own borders. Our Country has overcome these internal tragedies of division because great leaders rose to unite the people. These endeared leaders did not use tactics of hate, bigotry, calls for violence, sensationalism of false information and half-truths, dictatorship, and self-proclamation. Rather the renowned leaders of history practiced hope, compassion, civility, and service.

Today our Country faces another internal tragedy of division. This time the division emerges from the very principle that formed the foundation of the ‘The Constitution’ and associated ‘Bill of Rights’ – Freedom of Religion.

The Birth of Religious Freedom

In 1603 King James assumed the throne of England and like his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth, he continued the distribution of the Bible in English. However, the king feared opportunities that religious freedom could instill in the people so he formalized the Church of England as the State Church and made it a crime to attend any other religious gathering. During this time of religious tension there were primarily two groups seeking to preach all the doctrines from the Bible: 1) the Puritans, and 2) the Separatists. To escape religious persecution from the king a group of people fled to the Netherlands where laws regarding religious worship were more fertile. After several years of practicing new religious opportunities they determined to set out for the New World and build a new life. On September 16, 1620, a group of Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower and sailed to the Americas with a crew of 30 and 102 passengers. These people would have to endure two months sailing on the Atlantic Ocean before they arrived in their new land on November 9, 1620.

The Mayflower Compact: An Agreement to Cooperate for the General Good of the Colony

Soon after the Pilgrims settled in their new homeland, this group of freedom seekers drafted an agreement, or compact, to govern the rights of cooperation for the general good of the colony. This was a diverse group of people. Only 50% of those who boarded the Mayflower were doing so to escape religious dominance. The other passengers where comprised of tradespeople, investors, and explorers. All agreed that a document was needed to establish constitutional law and rule by the majority in their new community. This initial document became known as the “Mayflower Compact” which defined the organized structure for civility and governance and established a basis of freedom. This compact enabled those seeking religious freedom of practice and those without an affection towards God to dwell together.

(see https://themayflowersociety.org/history/the-mayflower-compact/ )

The establishment of the “Compact” did not introduce a common religion. These early Pilgrims understood the very essence of religious freedom was allowing all people to choose how they worship.

A Constitutional Right: Freedom of Religion

Nearly 150 years after the “Mayflower Compact” agreement was signed, a new document was being drafted which formalized the century and a half lessons learned from the original colonists. On January 16, 1786 Thomas Jefferson presented a document titled “The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” which declared “…freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state…”. This document was passed by the Virginia General Assembly and would then become the basis for the First Amendment in the ‘Bill of Rights‘ of ‘The Constitution’ guaranteeing the protection for religious freedom.

(see https://virginiahistory.org/learn/thomas-jefferson-and-virginia-statute-religious-freedom )

The guaranteed protection for religious freedom as documented in the ‘Bill of Rights‘ First Amendment states:

Amendment I

Note that no where in this text of guaranteed religious rights does it specify a denomination or practice or type of God. There is no text in ‘The Constitution’ or the ‘Bill of Rights‘ amendments that would preclude a religion. That is by design. This is the very essence of the religious freedom which had been practiced for 150 years in this new country of America. Thereby religions comprised of the following are supported by ‘The Constitution’ and associated ‘Bill of Rights’ and amendments:

  • Buddhism,
  • Confucianism,
  • Hinduism,
  • Islam,
  • Judaism,
  • Catholicism,
  • Eastern Orthodoxy,
  • Lutheranism,
  • Reformed Protestantism,
  • Anglican,
  • Episcopalian,
  • Methodist,
  • Evangelican Christians,
  • Born-Again Christians,
  • Christians, or
  • other religious denominations.

Also of note is that the text of the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ adopted in 1954 included the words “…under God…” and by design does not specify an association to any of the above religions. Each of the religions aforementioned includes in its practice a deity or God to which they worship. The United States of American is indeed to be “…one nation…”, but nowhere in the documents of this great Country does is imply a description of God. That is by divine purpose and a result of the sacrifice of all people who played a role in colonizing the Americas and documenting ‘The Constitution of the United States of America‘.

A Frightening Attack on Religion

The past several years this Country has been enduring an organized attack on religion. The “Election 2024” political environment is no different. In fact some political candidates are supporting and championing this attack on religion through the cover of cleverly disguised names such as “Christian Nationalism”, “White Nationalism”, and “White Christianity”. The premise of these organizations is political dominance – not religious practice.

In February 2022 the “Center for American Progress” conducted an interview with Amanda Tyler, of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, titled “Christian Nationalism Is ‘Single Biggest Threat’ to America’s Religious Freedom”. In the interview Ms. Tyler defines “Christian Nationalism” as:

(https://www.americanprogress.org/article/christian-nationalism-is-single-biggest-threat-to-americas-religious-freedom/ )

What is most appalling these self-identified christian nationalists attend Church each week and praise God and preach peace, compassion, forgiveness, and sermons from the Gospels of the New Testament, then they leave Church and begin a non-christian campaign. A campaign of violence, bigotry, hate, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, government-sponsored religion, and expulsion simply because other people don’t look like they do and don’t worship like they do. The irony is they proclaim Jesus and His doctrine and yet their actions outside of Church are contrary to the very teachings from the New Testament:

Matthew 22:37-40 (Two Great Commandments)

Matthew 5:3-12, 19, 22-25, 41-45 (Sermon on the Mount)

Luke 10:29-37 (Parable of the Good Samaritan)

Jesus was the exemplar to associate with those who were not like Himself: the Samaritans, the Publicans, the lepers, etc. Why is it then that those associating with or promoting christian nationalism are satisfied to be more aligned to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes; the very groups that claimed religious authority and yet ultimately crucified the Christ. Organizations such as the following list give rise for concern as many within these organizations are attempting to control our religious freedoms and are advocating for political agendas of authoritarianism:

  • Christian Liberty Party
  • American Redoubt Movement
  • Proud Christian Nationalists
  • God-and-Country Conservatives
  • QAnon
  • ReAwaken America Tour
  • Stop the Steal
  • America First
  • those promoting self-proclaimed prophets of government or who believe a presidential candidate was ordained by God to be President
  • New Apostolic Reformation
  • Proud Boys
  • Patriots and Theocrats

The people belonging to and promoting these organizations want you to believe they represent all American citizens. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These organizations have a very small percentage of support from the American people however consume most of the media time. This political agenda does not have to be accepted. It is time for Americans to speak out, to speak up, to show there is a better way. It is time to vote for political candidates that can restore Religious Freedom.

Conclusion

We live in a diverse society. It has been that way since the Pilgrims landed on this continent in November 1620. This diversity is what makes America the greatest nation on the earth. A democratic government was established for ALL the people. This very democracy is suppose to represent the interests of ALL people including those of different religious faiths. The rise of Christian Nationalism (in whatever form it pursues) is destroying the very fabric of our democracy. Don’t let the sensationalism of this political agenda distract you from the facts. This is the time to cast your vote.

Check out more here: https://darwinreed.com

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