Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time to take a deep breath and practice real religious tolerance

It’s time for us all to take a big breath and tolerate the expression of our religious faith in the public square.

The recent news regarding the objection, by some state senators, to a Minnesota Senate opening prayer containing multiple references to Jesus is a good example of how tolerance can be used to be intolerant. And how we have completely lost sight of the original intent of the founding fathers to encourage expressions of faith - all faiths - in the public square.

We are living in denial of the accurate historical record. Clearly, the founding fathers “were firm in their conviction that American liberties were a gift from God not man. They were equally convinced that our continued political liberty would be tied to our continued religious liberty.”

That the founding fathers had no problem with religious expression in government can be found all over our nations capitol.

One example is the United States Supreme Court. It’s covered with religious symbolism. In fact, Moses, the great Hebrew leader and the one who God gave the Ten Commandments figures prominently as do the Ten Commandments.

So do Solon, Confucius, and Mohamed.

The Capitol Rotunda resounds with religious expression. A quick glance at the life size paintings covering the walls depicts a prayer meeting, baptism and two bible studies. Another captures the 59 signers of the Declaration of Independence; 29 of which had seminary degrees.

The founders understood that religion was very important and should be practiced in the public square. They just didn’t want the government preferring one religion to another or establishing one government religion

The Minnesota Senate "invites leaders from numerous faith traditions to pray and notifies them that the Senate members come from a diverse background."

This seems the best way to practice religious tolerance. Let's keep it that way.

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