Religion and the Constitution

September 17th is Constitution Day — 221 years ago today, the 39 delegates to the  U.S. Constitutional Convention signed one of the world’s most important, powerful, thought-provoking and PRACTICAL documents.

So many things we Americans take for granted are perserved and protected within this document. More specifically, in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Think back to the dim years of civics class in high school. . .

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Starting off with a bang, we get right into it, don’t we? This says that there is no law against my religion — no matter how bizarre or offensive others find it. It also allows me to write what I want, say what I want, no matter how offensive others find it. It gives me access to a press that is allowed to write about the truth, even when it is critical of the government. It allows me to gather with other people, in public or private as long as we are peaceful in out behavior. It even allows me to bring my case to the government, if I feel I have been wronged.

It also requires me to defend their right to a religious viewpoint different from my own, and to lettign others say things I find offensive. As so many writers have said, in various ways, “I defend your right to say the things I find most offensive.”

As a witch, I find this necesary. I can’t imagine living in a, I want to say ‘monastic’ but I don’t think thats right — whats the oppostie of pluralistic? — society where we all must believe in the same deity. That rigidity of thinking is what has historically led humans into ethical and moral disasters. Any time we start making divisions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ we run into trouble. And its hard not to do that now. Its hard not to say ‘Republicans’ like there are some kind of single-celled organism, all in agreement and all hating the non-wealthy, non-white, non-christian people (because except for a few tokens, Republicans are all wealthy, white christians.) It’s hard to say ‘conservatives’ and not have it be a kind of shorthand for ‘religious fundamentalist.’

But I believe that negative energy rebounds on those who send it out. I believe that the energy forming, swirling, and gathering from now until November 4th will be transformatve.

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