Religious freedom in America has for a long time been a contentious issue and has been viewed as a way to create harmony in America. However, numerous proposals have been developed in support of and against this freedom. Some critics suggest that religious freedom will go a long way to promoting unity in America by harmonizing people from different backgrounds to respect other peoples the religious beliefs and experiences. On the other hand, opponents of this concept advance that religious freedom will deteriorate the culture and heritage of the American people. They suggest that the freedom will create confusion, especially to children and youth. Instilling a religious culture in the young generation will be a great step towards promoting a values-driven society.
In March this year, the Republican Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act amidst massive opposition from the residents of Indiana and the opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101. The act was condemned by a majority of the citizens of Indiana on grounds that it is anti-gay and an impediment to recruiting the best and brightest jobs. Proponents of this law suggest that it will hinder the government from infringing on the religious rights of people. As seen earlier, critics insist that areas that will not be covered by this law will seriously affect the gay and lesbian communities.
Sehat (2010) in his book The Myth of American Religious Freedom argues that America has for a long time been established on Protestant Christian foundation that strongly defended its grounds. Sehat clearly depicts how the state and federal courts supported the Protestant Christian morals during severe battles with Roman Catholics, supporters of polygamy, and freethinkers over the right to be non-religious. This argument is seen to convince Americans of the 21st-Century that their country has always supported religious liberty. Sehat, however, criticizes this belief by shedding more light on the controversial proposal of building an Islamic center in New York City.
In addition, Meyerson (2012) in his book Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America informs that religious freedom is highly achievable and that it is possible to create a balance between allowing individual liberty on religion and public religious expression. Meyerson book is devoid of a partisan stand, and he clearly gives arguments in support of and against religious freedom.
Besides, Smith (2014) in his book The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom argues that the American religious liberty has been sidelined by the Supreme Court rulings of the past 50 years. Smith advances that there has been a steady transformation of religious patterns from old practices of Christendom to established political arrangement to support a secular and non-partisan government.
In contrast, the book entitled The Impossibility of Religious Freedom by Sullivan (2005) advances that religious freedom in America is impossible. Sullivan gives a strong argument in the unfruitful struggle by Protestants, Catholics, and Jewish families to reserve their religious doctrines and artifacts that portrayed the ancient Biblical teachings of the likes of King David, Herod, and Pharaoh. These religious families were subjected to harassment as they pushed for their religious rights. The strong opposition to preserve ancient religious doctrines and practices came as a result of the ever-changing religious perceptions and the loss of cultural and religious virtues. In addition, the emergence of non-religious practices and dominance of secular practices has made the realization of religious freedom a hard nut to crack.
In conclusion, religious freedom is a sensitive subject that needs to be addressed with utmost professionalism. Various critiques have been developed in favor of and against the legalization of this practice. However, some critics have given their arguments that justify it and, on the other hand, condemn it. Nevertheless, in a bid to rule in favor of equality, the repercussions of the legalization of this practice need to be addressed as well.
Beneke, C. (2011). The Myth of American Religious Freedom. Journal of Church and State, csr055.Meyerson, M. (2012). Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America. Yale University Press.
Sehat, D. (2010). The Myth of American Religious Freedom. Oxford University Press.Smith, S. D. (2014). The rise and decline of American religious freedom. Harvard University Press.
Sullivan, W. F. (2005). The impossibility of religious freedom. Princeton University Press.
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