Is Religious freedom Free?Written by Terry Dashner
“Religious Freedom or Freedom from Religion?” by Terry Dashner, Senior Pastor
Faith Fellowship Church…PO Box 1586…Broken Arrow, OK…74013…918-451-0270
I’m concerned about American citizens who take religious liberties for granted. Every God-fearing American who is indifferent to his right of legal assembly, who’s indifferent to support of a church or synagogue by attendance and tithes, and who neglects to pray daily for continuance of religious freedom is unwittingly placing America’s religious liberties in jeopardy. By his failure to participate actively in religion, he’s sending a message to American lawmakers, and to world at large, that worship by free expression and free assembly is not very important. It’s interesting that most Americans claim to be Christian. If we are, then why aren’t our Churches and synagogues reflecting these numbers of supporters? Americans must use or we will lose our First Amendment right to religious liberties. These precious rights are privileges, not mandates.
There is a frightening spin manifesting now in other countries that claim religious tolerance. Religious tolerance for them is not like America’s religious tolerance. Their tolerance is in name only. What they practice is tolerance for one-state religion. All other religions must comply with state-preferred religion or suffer persecution. This is scary because it could happen in America if we don’t support our religious rights. If we don’t use our right to worship we will lose our right to worship.
Cal Thomas, a leading American columnist, writes articles worth reading. I read one of his articles other day that stated following information. The Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) in Washington says Sharia law discriminates against women and Iraq’s small (estimated at 2 percent) Christian population. In a statement, IRD says that if a Christian man converts to Islam, he could divorce his Christian wife and she might lose custody of her children, who would be officially decreed Muslim. Anyone converting to another faith from Islam is considered an apostate and, under some circumstances and interpretations of Koran, could be executed.
Getting Older, Getting BetterWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
As baby boomers, we have been spoiled all of our lives. When we were teenagers, world took note because there were so many of us. Our music, our beliefs, our fashions, our styles dominated culture of age. When we took to streets to protest war in Vietnam and to support Civil Rights Movement, we found a ready audience. Television came into its own and we splattered ourselves and our causes across living rooms of America.
For some of us, that was best of times. We were young, idealistic, and naïve. We truly believed that we were making a difference. We were creating a future of hope, justice, fairness, and peace.
As we move towards retirement age, we look around us with diminished hope, broken promises, reddened eyes, and cynicism. Where is new world order we so desperately sought? In violence-filled streets of Baghdad? In ruins of World Trade Center? In hills of Afghanistan? In political condemnation of gay rights, resistance to a woman's right to control her own body, death of Affirmative Action?
We look back in longing to days before political assassinations turned world upside down. Life was, indeed, so much simpler then. Involvement in revolution is for young and naïve who, no matter century, no matter nation, no matter cause, see only possibilities and none of difficulties that maintenance of profound social change demands.
Can we keep our ideals alive in muck and mire of reality?
If our ideals are still there, perhaps hidden beneath layers that decades of responsibility, work, fatigue, and need to take care of personal matters have deposited, we can resurrect them. We can revitalize their tenets with bolder judgment and broader understanding wrought by experience and maturity. We can still return to fight we abdicated with demise of Great Society.
1. Political action.
We now know that marching in streets has less of a lasting effect than power of voting booth and closed door deals of professional politicians. Although many have fallen along way, including some of best and brightest, boomers still have tremendous numbers and therefore significant potential political power. As our involvement in work and careers starts to taper off, we can use our newly found time to participate in political process: listening, organizing, contributing, and supporting those who represent that new society we still so desperately seek. For us, infringement of civil liberties generated by Patriot Act and horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay demand that questions be asked, motives revealed, and expected outcomes honestly assessed. We can still throw off conservative shackles of age we have unwittingly donned and re-enter fray: as candidates, as volunteers, as individuals who demand accountability and justice from those in power.
2. Community action.
Supporting and fighting for civil rights no longer requires travel to Deep South nor marching through streets. The struggle now permeates all levels of our society: workplace, schools, churches, home. Community involvement may range from active support, to speaking out, to neighborhood organizing, all in knowledge that our better world starts right outside our front door. Racial profiling, bias against those of Middle Eastern descent, and widely administered wiretaps confront us in our own corner of world. An African-American child in a schoolroom without enough books, without internet access, without afterschool programs, without personal safety and a quiet academic atmosphere, is as cheated of his natural human heritage as his forefather in back of bus. A gay couple denied social and financial benefits of married straights are as much victims of prejudice as their forbears in their proverbial closets. A poor urban neighborhood without basic resources: libraries, museums, music, culture, is as disadvantaged in modern age as in shameful shanty towns of old. We may feel a lack of power to sufficiently effect a national change of direction but in our local communities power is there for taking if we choose to assert our energies and our concerns.