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My Turn: Who should have religious freedom?

By Dr. Ada Fisher
The negro spiritual “True Religion” records, “You must have that true religion. You must have religion and your soul converted.”
The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’ There are those who are mad that stores, the ACLU and others are attacking Christmas, which to Christians designates the birth of Jesus, and Easter with its attendant representations of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In requesting that any symbolism associated with Christmas and Easter via ads or displays on public property be removed or muted, do we risk trampling over this precious religious freedom?
Equally vicious is the silencing of those religions that don’t make a big to- do about their lack of inclusion in government-sanctioned holidays. So what are a free people to do?
As a Jew I, find it intriguing that my High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) don’t get government recognized time off from work in acknowledgement of their importance in our lives. Most do not appreciate that the United States of America probably has more Jews here than in Israel. Muslim holidays of most significance include Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Fitr, Id-ul-Fitr or Id al-Fitr, marking the end of the Islamic holy month of fasting; Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, representing the “Feast of Sacrifice” or “Festival of Sacrifice”; or “Greater Eid,” commemorating the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma’il) as an act of obedience to God before He intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead. Most do not appreciate that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States.
Are non-Christian religions to be seen as incorrect and their holidays ignored? To some Christians the religious holidays of others may not seem like much, for Jews and Muslims have quietly learned to go along to get along. But a larger question looms: Does religious freedom require that every religion receive equal treatment or that only that recognized as fitting the majority be given preference?
Whether Jeremiah Wright’s Black Liberation Theology’s bombastic manner in the Chicago United Church of Christ which President Obama attended, or Joseph Smith’s founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during America’s Second Great Awakening (to which Mitt Romney subscribes) or the Sharia Laws of the more violent Islamic revolutionist or Elijah Muhammad and Lois Farrakhan’s Black Muslims — religious freedom and the right to be heard and supported for public office in the minds of many has its limits. I’m the daughter of a Baptist minister whose church at one time was likely the largest such in North Carolina during his time (2,500 members in the 1950s), and he foresaw that this day would come. Harkening back to his “negro slave songs,” he’d quote one that says there are “Twelve gates into the city,” which fits with Jesus’ admonition that “in my father’s house are many mansions.”
The question is, will we allow other people’s houses and mansions to stand and treat them with equal respect in giving them their freedom of religion while making no laws to unduly restrict them?
Here’s hoping the reason for these seasons is not lost in forgetting the essence of the brotherhood of man which allows each in this nation to worship his Creator as befits his concept of the Great Architect of the Universe in accordance with the laws of the U.S. Constitution.
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Dr. Ada M. Fisher lives in Salisbury and is the N.C. Republican National Committeewoman.
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