There was no way that the founding fathers of this great nation, could have known while penning the Constitution. America would become the bastion of religious freedom that it has arrived at today. Today, there is perhaps no other place in the world, where one's religion can be practiced openly and freely. Without the threat of persecution by others or government. Christians are free to practice Christianity. Muslims are free to practice Islam. Whatever your faith. Here in America you have the right and protections by law, to practice it without fear. It's one of the things that make America so great.
Religion has also, long been the source of heated debate and contention. Arguments for and against religious and social issues, intertwine. Sometimes affecting certain regions in the country or entire groups of people, who do not look or sound like traditional western world Christians. After the September 11th attacks, people all over America who looked like they were of Middle-Eastern decent, where profiled. They were pulled over by police. Detained at airports. Leered at on a day to day basis. Simply because there were some who felt all Muslims, even those who looked like Muslims but were not. Either by blood or practice, were terrorist. (www.thenation
.com/blog/163159/long-life-profiling-ten-years-after-911) The prevailing perception by some at that time, was that all Muslims are evil. All Muslims hate Christians. All Muslims want to destroy America. Many believed that the entire Christian leaning western world and the western way of life, was at war against Islam. It's a stigma that to some degree, still exists today. It was one of the casualties of the war on terrorism.
Americans, both Christian and non-Christians banded together as the nation prepared to defend itself. United we stood. But because of the history between Christians and Muslims, many perceived it as another chapter in a centuries long holy war. A war that some seemed were only all to willing to exploit and engage America's people of faith in. Why? People of faith are loyal and follow long standing practices and traditions that are time tested. They posses written laws of their denominations that they adhere to faithfully. But most important. People of faith vote and vote their convictions. This fact has not been lost on some politicians. Politicians know that aligning themselves or their party, with people of faith and their value system can open doors. Scoring political points , potentially gaining access to public office. (www
.opposingviews.com/arguments/abuses-of-religion-for-political-gain-at-an-all-time-high) The problem arises when policy and religion are placed side by side in an awkward dance, initially created to secure votes. This creates a thin line, a blur between the two, that at times leaves those not invited to the party, vulnerable.
Vulnerable, because religion has perhaps become the single most divisive tool used in American politics today. A fact plays out each election cycle as politicians seeking office, begin to hustle the faithful for their votes. In fairness each party has it's fair share of ideologues, who champion one thing or another passionately. But Republicans without a doubt, have cornered the market and should be known as the the party of the faithful. Republicans at-least on the surface, are more aligned with Evangelical ideals and those who hold more conservative points of views of America.
Because of this, today religion has a strong grip on the neck of American policy. Everything from war to women's rights. President Obama's recent endorsement of same sex rights is sure to be a wedge issue in November, as those on the right are firmly opposed. (www.barackobama
.com/lgbt) This ideology is nothing new. The difference today is, people of faith have a more prominent voice in the process of formulating American policy. A voice that they should have. A voice and the representation in Washington DC, that every other group of Americans deserves to have as well.
That voice of the faithful, is a good thing for America. But because of their alignment with Republicans. That voice is a GREAT thing for people of faith. At times, drowning out the voices of others. Leaving those who do not have conservative perspectives, on the outside looking in and unheard. While the politicians who used religion, without regard to or for anything or anyone else to secure votes, are left sitting pretty. Ready to move forward their legislation and their agenda's, further isolating those not in line with their policy. Continuing to divide the country based in part on faith. Opening the revolving door that has become prejudice and bigotry, as in the past. With no regard for fairness, nor the rights and needs of others. Compromise out the window and understanding out the door.
The same closed mindedness that nurtured Jim Crow. The same closed mindedness that opposed interracial marriages. The same closed mindedness that opposed desegregation. Our politicians have long used religion to further their political agendas and divide. And they probably always will. But America's faith in GOD and in one another, is one of the things that binds all Americans together. Politicians know this. It's all the more reason to understand that faith and policy in the wrong hands, is bad business for America. At what point will the American politician, begin the process of using religion for that which it was intended to be used. To provide peace, understanding and healing for those in need. When will the American politician use religion where it can be most useful. As a way to unite us all and to encourage Americans from different backgrounds to pray together. Respecting the rights of all Americans. Those who are Christian and conservative. As well as those who are not.