(Ed. Note- This is an opinion piece written by guest author Ginger Stephenson. This publication accepts such opinion pieces as this. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org)
We have a tendency to change words, even written words, into something that fits our agenda. Then that “stretch” will be believed by others because few will dig deeper to learn the original meaning behind the words. We see it every day in everything from social media remarks all the way to the Bible. There are many particular instances I could provide but I will stick with one, our freedom of religion per the Constitution of our United States.
Over the years we have had the meaning of our freedom of religion change. It has gone from being an issue of keeping the government from forcing a certain belief upon us, to where many believe it means they have the right not to be offended by the religious beliefs and actions of anyone else. The reason others will not dispute what some on the left say about our First Amendment is that few seem willing to research what led our Forefathers to making this one of their priorities in our Constitution. Their reasons came from years of history in many different countries.
In ancient times, some civilizations worshiped rulers as gods. Numbers of political leaders were said to be chosen by their gods. Later there were the lands ruled by those of the Catholic faith who believed the Pope was not only over the church but also had the final say over the rulers. There were other monarchs who believed they answered to no one but God and therefore ruled the country and the church as did King Henry VIII of England. When he could not get a divorce through the Catholic Church, he separated the Church of England from the Pope’s authority and made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The Catholic Church, through tithes, was able to help those countries which were ruled by Catholic monarchies. They could help fund wars, build up kingdoms and even helped set up marriages between monarchies in order to strengthen the numbers of countries who ruled via Catholic beliefs. Countries of other faiths also waged war often based on their religious beliefs and hatred of others. Usually all these countries had a national religion based on the beliefs of their rulers at that time. Some of them even decided what days and times you would worship as well as what information you would hear at the church. This was during a time when lifespans were not as long and monarchs were murdered for their position. That meant frequent changes in rulers; therefore it meant frequent changes in their national religion.
There was a dislike of other religious beliefs within a country itself and it seemed all were willing to fight for the one in which they believed. This was made worse by the Reformation which brought about the idea of separating the church and state in one fashion or another. Then as the Bible and other books of religion were becoming more available and not left up to the reading and interpretation, more beliefs came about through the formation of different divisions of faith. Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Pagans and others seemed to always be at odds.
Just because we were taught that people came to the New World to seek religious freedom, doesn’t mean they were always able to escape the harnesses set by governments. Charters written by various local governments might have claimed religious freedom but they did not always allow it completely. Some refused to allow Quakers within their area, some barred Catholics from openly practicing their beliefs, while others refused Jews citizenship. Each area had different rules. These are all reasons why our forefathers decided to make freedom of religion an important part of our Constitution.
Over the years we have had many different interpretations of what our founding fathers meant by “freedom of religion.” However, instead of relying on the analysis by others, why not spend more trying to understand it for yourself? Be able to back up your opinion to others. Get to know facts so that you will not be so quick to fall for some else’s interpretation.
No longer can we believe all the news we hear or read because it is often influenced and twisted to fit an agenda. Do our teachers have a motive mixed in with the education of our children? What about the words of songs we listen to or those of shows we watch? What about the things you read on social media? How can we so easily accept what others say when we know there is a tendency to twist words for an agenda? I believe that due to our lack of research, not to mention the lack of interest in anything beyond entertainment, we have become a nation of sheep.