cari_tretinaBY: CARI TRETINA

Monday not only marked a celebration of a civil rights hero and advocate, but it was also the inauguration of America’s chief executive. President Obama will serve his second and final term, and during his inauguration speech, he set the agenda and tone for the next four years.

Here are some quotes that stood out to me:

“…because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

“That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”

“That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”

Each of these quotes, which are only three out of five, has a similarity: the incorporation of religion. Now before the hate mail begins, let’s reevaluate our country’s history and basic principles.

During the 17th century, it is true some of the colonists who arrived in America were just seeking riches and property. However, others came to the New World to escape religious discrimination. Quakers and Puritans set sail to be able to freely worship.

However, once the Puritans had arrived and settled in, they began demanding religious conformity to their own spiritual beliefs. This being a complete contradiction to the other settlers’ relocation reasons, resistance was met and new religions developed in America.

Later in the 18th century our Founding Fathers began crafting our United States Constitution. Sticking to America’s basic values, they wanted to ensure religious freedom was protected for all. Thus, Separation of Church and State was created. The First Amendment establishes such division:

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

I understand President Obama is not a part of Congress nor was he supporting religious legislation. However, he did advocate equality for all in America. Equality extends further than fair pay and marriage; it includes the right to freely worship.

Each reference to God he made isolated a non-worshiping God group and citizen. Some don’t believe God created Earth; some don’t believe God has a plan; some don’t believe in God.

America is constantly being referred to as a “melting pot” of cultures and societies. With that said, each culture and society has a differing religious belief.

How can our own president attempt to reunite our country when he excludes so many?

I am a full believer in every person having the right and ability to worship and believe in whatever they so choose. In fact, I think everyone should believe in something, whether it is a higher being, karma or just in a person’s own will and drive.

However, I do not believe those personal beliefs be thrust upon society. Separation of church and state has essentially disappeared, and evidence of this is apparent all throughout America: Our currency, Pledge of Allegiance and even congressional sessions support the belief in God.

Additionally, President Obama is by no means the first president to subject the American people to one religion. According to National Public Radio, since World War I, every incoming president has made the God reference in his inauguration speech.

Now, I’m by no means singling out just the Christian God. I would highly disagree with any reference to any deity; no religion should be brought into public discourse when discussing politics and government.

Too many private issues and civil liberties are being debated right now because of religion. Americans and our government should be focusing on matters that are actually debilitating our society, like our high unemployment rate or economic status, and not just hurting someone’s feelings.

Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and this freedom has been continuously broken. The mentioning of any higher being only adds fuel to the fire; it by no means eases the flame.

4 Comments

  1. You have stated the truth. Awesome job Cari!

  2. I found your article to be fundamentally flawed in its argument. I think it comes from a complete lack of understanding what it means to live in a society with freedoms. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are our two most guarded rights. Your proposal amounts to freedom from religion and freedom from speech that you “disagree” with. Summed up: “People should only talk about things that i want them to talk about because it would make everything run smoother.”

    And yet, you quote the first amendment:

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

    You quote the first amendment as if it creates this magical barrier that exists between state and church. What you quoted was the establishment clause, meaning that the U.S. cannot show preference towards/against a particular religion and then the free exercise clause. You focus on the establishment clause while totally disregarding the free exercise clause. The free exercise clause is what you really have an issue with.

    If you find it offensive or disagreeable that a public servant speaks about his personal faith, then i would direct you to that clause and then the other freedom granted by the first amendment; freedom of speech.

    “Too many private issues and civil liberties are being debated right now because of religion.”

    Private issues and civil liberties? I assume you are mentioning abortion. Read Roe v. Wade, it does a run down of the conservative argument. God is not mentioned. The question is when life begins which is scientific, not religious. People are influenced by their religion and yes it does permeate into their thinking, but so does one’s atheism or agnosticism. If you are angry that people debate things because their background influences them, then also get mad that people have cultures, families or…..the ability to think for themselves.

    “Americans and our government should be focusing on matters that are actually debilitating our society, like our high unemployment rate or economic status, and not just hurting someone’s feelings.”

    I would cite hundreds of quotes by philosophers, politicians, historians, etc that state that a country’s woes are created by its issues with morality. I dont personally believe it, but others do, and i could be wrong. I respect their right to believe that and say that, and I wont condemn them for it. Its also funny that you assume that personal liberties or “private matters” don’t debilitate society.

    The last part is complete and utter ridiculousness. How is our Government or Americans focused on hurting someone’s feelings? In a free society, you should expect to be offended. Our President/Government’s last concern should be whether they hurt someone’s feelings. If an atheist/muslim/jew/buddhist/hindu was offended by a President’s mentioning of God, and no longer confident in his leadership, then they have bigger issues then their political stance. They are probably suffering from delicate flower, precious snowflake syndrome.

    “However, I do not believe those personal beliefs be thrust upon society.”

    What? So you here is the crux of your argument. You dont want freedom of speech? You would effectively censor speech by public officials because its too religious and offensive to some people. I would never give up the right to say what I want to stop another from saying what they want, but hey liberty isnt for everyone.

    “Separation of church and state has essentially disappeared, and evidence of this is apparent all throughout America: Our currency, Pledge of Allegiance and even congressional sessions support the belief in God.”

    God is in our currency, on our motto, in the pledge, OMG, we should burn it all. We dont want our children knowing the founding of our nation was based off a God, believe in a higher being is so 1990s. (/sarcasm)

  3. Stephanie Collins says:

    “Each reference to God he made isolated a non-worshiping God group and citizen. Some don’t believe God created Earth; some don’t believe God has a plan; some don’t believe in God.”

    Thank you for this Cari! The debate over religion in government is always argued with “Not everyone believes in the same God.” Well, some of us don’t believe in God at all, and it is incredibly discouraging to be forced to listen to leaders tell me all that I have achieved or yet to achieve was granted to me by some higher power.

  4. Great job Cari!

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