Friday, April 21, 2006

Freedom of Religion

Amendment No. 1 (in part):

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

But what, may I inquire, is "religion?"  Usually in legal matters, Judges favor the common, dictionary meaning of words.  According to, Religion's first definition is:

  1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
  2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

That seems pretty straightforward and comprehensive.  Currently though, conservatives are using religion as a means of justifying discriminatory policies.  For example, in Boston, the flap over gay adoptions.  Religion does not equate with adoption.  Every rational person would of course concur that obstructing someone's freedom to worship as their conscience dictates is a bad thing.  But adoptions aren't worship. 

Likewise, a classroom is not a church.  Schools which accept public funds cannot unilaterally discriminate and justify that by freedom of religion.  When they unite with the state, then the state calls the shots.  One of the tenants of American society is equal access. 

I wonder if religion is really compatible with democracy.   

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