Religious freedom has two dimensions.

The first is “freedom to…,” as in being free to worship in our own way the God of our own choosing. The other dimension is “freedom from…,” as in being free from having someone else’s religious beliefs imposed on us against our will.

Religious conservatives love that first dimension, but refuse to accept the second dimension. They push our patience and tolerance to the limit and then scream that their freedom of expression is being violated whenever anyone invokes the second dimension and asks them to save their sectarian cant for their own worship space.

Thus, we have the invective hurled against David Offer for his insightful article in the newspaper on June 21. Contrary to the Rev. Bob Emrich (Saturday, June 25) and Carolyn Farrington (Wednesday, June 29), Offer did not deny the religious element in our nation’s history, nor did he even hint that freedom of religion should be abolished.

He simply suggested, quite validly I might add, that highly sectarian religious jargon does not belong in events intended to be inclusive of all faiths.

When religious conservatives such as Emrich hijacked the National Day of Prayer for their own dogmatic pietism, they turned what was intended to be a time of uniting and sharing into one more hostile clash between their narrow intransigence and those many others of us who don’t buy into it.

No, we are not looking for political correctness. We simply want people to respect our freedom to address the supreme being in our own terms and not be constantly pummeled by their religious views. Until they are willing to grant us this freedom from their religion, they are in no position to accuse anyone else of arrogance.

David L. Mitchell


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