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November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks for Religious Freedom

Joe Charlebois

Here is hoping that everyone reading this column had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Many of you, I am sure, spent it with family, or friends feasting on turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, dressing, and, yes, even gluten-free stuffing.


Others, who weren’t fortunate to make it home for the day, may very well include first responders or military personnel who were unable to get leave.


The one thing that, regrettably, has been forgotten in Thanksgiving get-togethers – as well as many other holidays – is the fact that this is an opportunity to give thanks. This holiday is the one day a year that is designated to recognize our blessings.


So few American’s realize what fortunes we – as a nation – have been blessed with. We were fortunate enough to have Founders and Framers with the insight to take a fledgling nation from revolution to reality with the ratification of our Constitution in 1789.


The Framers based our rights on the fact that they were given to us by our Creator – as stated in The Declaration of Independence – and this is what separates us from other societies and truly makes us unique.


Other societies grant rights and liberties through government, which, in turn, can be taken back by government.


Our American society does not allow for government to infringe on liberties such as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” without due process of law.


For nearly half of our nation’s existence, secular statists and progressives have continued their attempt to slice at the very fabric of our being. Secularism, in particular, is the true opponent of the First Amendment – yes, opponent! – not proponent.


Today’s socialists have taken cues from George Orwell’s use of double-speak. They have twisted the words of our Founders to eliminate freedom of religion and using the left-leaning courts to institute freedom from religion. What makes our country special is that it was founded with a principle that this country allows citizens to worship without the threat of persecution.


Lawsuits have been brought striking at the towns that display crèches and menorahs when Christmas and Chanukah are celebrated. Lawsuits have been filed to remove displays of the Ten Commandments from public display here in Frederick – even though the display was transferred to private ownership – as well as other localities throughout the country.


With all of these lawsuits against the local and state governments, as well as the federal government, I have yet to see any of our elected or appointed leaders propose that any local, state, or even the federal government propose that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion become the official religion of the United States.


The fact is that a huge majority of this nation’s population are believers. They are believers of one of many faiths and choose to exercise their faith – freely. They require only that no one infringe on their ability to worship.


What the Secular Statists are attempting to do is remove any and all symbols that a small minority of Americans may be offended by. I, as a Christian, am proud that America allows such a diversity of religious thought. When I see symbols of other faiths, I show respect. I, in turn, would expect to be shown respect by others. Just because one can see a religious symbol does not mean that it is some form of government endorsement.


Over the years many of our holidays have become secularized. Thanksgiving Day was originally a day of thanksgiving, not to Native Americans, but to Almighty God – as set forth by decree. Christmas for many begins with an “X” instead of Christ. St. Valentine’s Day is now just Valentine’s Day, with few knowing the original historical significance of his sacrifice. Likewise those who revel with drink know little of the contributions that Saint Patrick made.


There is nothing wrong with enjoying these holidays, just as there is nothing wrong with those who would rather not have any religious symbols in public; that is their choice.


All we ask is that you don’t take away from the vast majority of this nation's believers our freedom of religion.


I, for one, am glad that there is one day that we as a nation get together to give thanks to God.



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