Religious freedom is not freedom to persecute religion

I read an article in the Washington Post about a growing trend in Illinois, Kentucky, and North Carolina, among other places, where bumper stickers featuring the motto, “In God We Trust,” are being placed on vehicles driven by police officers and firefighters.

This phrase, of course, was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956 and can be found on our currency.

Unsurprisingly, the fact that these stickers have found their way on to such highly visible vehicles has led to an outcry from those who don’t believe in God and want nothing to do with religion.

“I’m not hiding from the fact that it’s religious,” Bay County, Florida, Sheriff Frank McKeithen told The Post. “Morals and ethics — that’s kind of what law enforcement’s supposed to be about.”

Given what has happened in many cities across the country in recent weeks and months regarding suspected police brutality, McKeithen said there are negative vibes surrounding police officers and he wanted to paint his men in a different, more positive light.

“We want to be proud and we want people to be proud of us, and we know we’re better than how people portray us,” McKeithen said.

As a Christian man, I couldn’t be more happy with the gesture. It seems like religion — especially Christianity — is on the decline in this country and Christians are being persecuted for practicing their beliefs.

We have a growing problem in this country, and it begins with everybody being so offended by what others think, feel, and do. And rather than practice tolerance, people feel it’s worth their time and effort to fight everyone and everything until they get their way.

I’ve always said that freedom is a slippery slope. We deserve — and have — basic freedoms, but the hunger and thirst for more freedom is never quite satisfied, as people will fight for every single right they can, down to a single, minute detail.

And when one person fights for an intricate right for himself, it sometimes takes away a right from someone else.

Allow me to clarify.

The biggest “conflicting rights” issue is abortion, of course, where some women want the right to abort a pregnancy, thus denying the right for that baby to have life. But abortion is a much bigger topic for a different day.

In the case of religion, nonbelievers don’t want the word “God” anywhere — at least anywhere that they might see or hear it. Thus, if it were to be removed from our national vocabulary, we are then persecuting those who do believe in God, and preventing them the right to preach their faith.

Another example that has bothered me for years is the separation of church and state in public schools. In an ever-growing attempt at keeping faith out of schools and doing the politically correct thing to please as many people as possible, schools have been removing words that might offend nonbelievers. One such case is the removal of the phrase “Good Friday.” Many school children all over the country have no classes on the Friday before Easter, but a lot of these schools refer to the day as, “a day of nonattendance,” so as not to offend the non-Christians.

Educate me, please. What is so offensive to a person of a different religion about receiving a day off school or work for some other faith’s holiday? When I was in school, I enjoyed every single day off I could get. Heck, growing up in Illinois, we got Casimir Pulaski Day off on the first Monday of every March — and I didn’t even have the slightest clue who that guy was. Would I have cared if the school gave us days off for Yom Kippur or Ramadan? Heck no! And I sincerely doubt that many — if any — schoolchildren these days would be “offended” if they got a day off from school for a Christian holiday. I guarantee that’s coming straight from the parents who are doing whatever they can to keep their children from being exposed to a religion that preaches love and fellowship — how awful that must be to impressionable children!

Why are we not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” in December? Why do we have to refer to Christmas trees as “Holiday trees?” Why do we have to say something like “Gesundheit” to someone who just sneezed instead of “God bless you?”

The level of offense and sensitivity that the secular public takes to these gestures — all of which are delivered with goodwill, mind you — is just baffling and, frankly, quite troubling.

What nonbelievers or atheists do not understand is that the freedoms granted to them by our founding fathers do not allow them to persecute and prevent believers from practicing their faith. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The First Amendment gives us the right to practice our religion free from persecution.

So, while atheists have every right not to practice a religion, doing something to hinder others from practicing their faith is not okay.

You cannot set a double standard. You cannot fight for one freedom if it takes away freedom for someone else — well, you can. But then you’re just selfish and inconsiderate.

If you don’t want to say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, don’t. But don’t get in the way of others who choose to.

If you don’t want to put an “In God We Trust” bumper sticker on your car, nobody is forcing you. But don’t put up a fuss if someone else puts one on his car.

If you don’t want to say “God bless you” when someone else sneezes, fine. But don’t get offended when someone else wishes you well and says it to you.

The list of modern day persecution goes on and on, but the bottom line is this: Nobody is forcing you to declare your allegiance to God if you don’t want to … so don’t try to prevent others who do want to.

Ryan Glab
Ryan Glab
A Christian, conservative man seeking an open mic and a stage in the crowded, clamorous barroom of life. Fear God, love Jesus, and always seek truth.