Supreme Court Referees Religious Monument Dispute is an article posted today on Beliefnet. The dispute is over placing a Summum monument with the religious group\’s Seven Aphorisms in a city park in Pleasant City Grove, Utah. The park already has a Ten Commandments monument, so the Summum don\’t see what the big deal is. Of course, this is a First Amendment issue (freedom of religious expression and freedom of speech amendment to the Constitution of the United States).
Bigger issue, though, is the multiplicity of religions the U.S. harbors. Known as a place where freedom of religion is protected, we\’ve got religions…boy, do we got religions! Unlike fifty years ago when we were all more or less Christian in some flavor or another, today it is a different story and we\’re only just beginning to realize it, catch up to the fact, deal with the ramifications. It doesn\’t seem that the powers that be foresaw this or took any action to prepare for it. Instead we\’re in reaction mode, scrambling to figure out how to all have equal rights and coexist peacefully without turning our city parks into monument plazas or our civic prayers into \’say whatever you believe thoughtfully, regardless of content\’ \”prayers\”.
I listened to the uncut version of Liberating the Founders on Speaking of Faith radio show a couple of weeks ago and one of the things that was said that was new to me was that the founding fathers of the United States believed in freedom of religion and truly believed that in a free market of religions that the best religion would win out–that Christianity would win out. They took what we tend to view as an economic idea (free market) and applied it to religious thought and belief. I think this is totally cool, myself. Yay, founding fathers!!
So, if our founding fathers were right and the fact that we\’ve got a gazillion religions, religious sects, cults, etc. populating our homeland ties in well with this, then we\’re in an old fashioned battle of the colas…ahem, I mean battle of belief systems.
I take heart in this, quite frankly, because I do believe God has planted deep within each of us a desire for Jesus and the more we seek to approach God the closer we get to His Son. Even if we\’re way off in heretic-ville, God can still honor our heart\’s desire for Him and speak our name in ways we can hear…like a loving parent looking for a lost child, He is perpetually calling our name in hopes we\’ll stop, listen and move toward the sound of His voice. For instance, I\’ve heard stories of devout Muslims dreaming about Jesus and converting to Christianity because of that dream. Some may be scandalized by this, but I guarantee the converts aren\’t–they\’re grateful beyond all measure, for now they have a Savior, now they live in freedom. God sent Jesus their way in a manner only He could do and they, whose religion strongly forbids conversion to Christianity, came…they came to Jesus.
America is perpetually renewing itself and finding space for new and different beliefs, peoples, ideas, ways of living–we don\’t have to, but how can we dare be otherwise when our ancestors were once the newbies on the block bringing with them all kinds of brow furrowing beliefs, thoughts and ways. I do hope, though, that our parks and civic arenas don\’t turn into places where the battle for the best religion is enacted. Seems we can do this more peacefully and less messily without clogging our court system, if we try.
The main danger lurking quietly in all of this was also mentioned in the Liberating the Founders show: that inflicting a particular religion on a people quenches the people\’s desire for that religion. We need to tread carefully to make sure what we erect, post and speak in civic places is a reflection of who we are and not an infliction of who we should be.
So, I don\’t know about you, but I\’m ready for a Coke…or…maybe a Pepsi…