Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Freedom in America for all religions [Letter]

The dogma and the practice of religion are often far apart.

Religion is often used in the judging of others as inferior and leads to hypocrisy, bigotry, discrimination and deciding who is in or out. The powerful who demonstrate prejudice or favoritism encourage bullying, ostracizing and demonizing of others, and support the not-welcome-here atmosphere. Too often the "others" are deemed lacking the correct skin color, ethnic origin, gender choice or religion.


I was recently confronted by a group of neighbors who said I was being rude and disrespectful for not standing for a specific song. Was it the Star Spangled Banner? No, it was God Bless America.

Citizens are not required by law to stand for any song. It is customary to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. Though Yankee Doodle Dandy is patriotic and Ave Maria is religious, Americans don't stand for either. When religion and patriotism become entangled they forge a powerful weapon. Who were they to assume license to dictate to me?


In 1777 Baptists and Catholics were the minorities. Baptist minister John Leland and supporters refused the ratification of the Constitution without promise of the Bill of Rights. Leland said "The notion of a Christian common wealth should be exploded forever… [the] government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have preeminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equal Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians."

Our founders wanted religious neutrality to ensure safety for any minorities' right to choose their beliefs.

Currently Christians in Iraq are a hated minority in their country, where fundamentalists demand "convert, pay a tax or die." Immigrant children fleeing turmoil are seeking safety here. Remember in the 1880s when poor Americans put children on orphan trains to the West, hoping they would find a better life? During WWII, frantic Jews sent children to safety in other countries.

As William Fields did die on March 31, 1945 in Germany for America, I claim, as his orphan, America's promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's my unalienable civil right to not be required, restricted, intimidated or subjected to punishment for refusing to bow to strictures of anyone else's religion. Even in Carroll County.

Nan Nelson