January 16

Freedom of Religion Day

Reflection

 “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
                                                                        First Amendment of the US Constitution

 

Every year January 16 is observed as Freedom of Religion Day. To do violence in the name of being the only possessors of the true way to worship God is a blatant contradiction of whatever religion we may follow. Yet, if we reflect on human history, how much hatred, prejudice and war do we see all in the name of the God of love and peace which every religion proclaims. We distort the message of our religions and forget that religion is not God but a way to worship God.  We often despise one another and condemn one another in the name of the God who is merciful and loving. Reflecting on this, let us consider the following words:

Justice is an aspect of compassion. Justice, if you like, is the public face of compassion.  You cannot have religion without justice.  You can’t retreat into private meditation.  You have to be concerned with society. The real question of all religions in the 21st century is not doctrinal. The real question is can we bring healing to our world?  If religions fail to use their own peaceable traditions for others, respect for the stranger, if they cannot make a potent voice in the world, then they will have failed the test of the 21st century.
Karen Armstrong

Prayer

Help us, O God, to “beware of false prophets” and worship you in humility and truth.

Action

 As a Christian, I ill meditate on the words: ”Love one another as I have loved you” and “ The one who says he loves God and hates his neighbor is a liar.”
I will take the time to read some of the sacred writings of a religion I may not understand.

Suggested Reading

God is spirit, and God’s worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
John 19:7

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Matthew 7:15

I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.
Millard Fillmore (1809-1865)

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish – where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
John F. Kennedy

People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah’s ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it’s about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.
Neil deGrasse Tyson

The old restriction meant that only the orthodox were allowed to discuss religion. Modern liberty means that nobody is allowed to discuss it. Good taste, the last and vilest of human superstitions, has succeeded in silencing us where all the rest have failed.
G.K. Chesterton

President Obama understands that, as a nation founded by those who fled religious persecution, freedom of religion is central to who we are as Americans. Our rights are not given to us by government, they are endowed by our Creator.
Denis McDonough

Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.
Robert Kennedy

Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that … of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.
Thomas Jefferson

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