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.