University of Southern Indiana's student publication

The Shield

Freedom of religion

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I have heard the term freedom of religion every day since I started school.

It is a right granted by the United States Constitution.

Lately, I have noticed a downward spiral of rights granted by the Constitution, leading me to wonder who actually has religious freedom?

I experience being unable to speak of my faith and beliefs at work because it can cause guests and fellow employees to feel uncomfortable.

I have felt the disapproving stares on my back as I carry my Bible or pray on campus. During a Christmas event, I was even asked not to sing carols that refer to Jesus, because this too can make others uncomfortable.

My Muslim friends’ experiences have been worse than mine.

They are subjected to terrible stereotypes because of their religion.They are called names, spit on and sometimes even physically hurt because of what they believe in.

In America, we have the right to believe whatever religion we choose. Why are people walking around afraid for their lives because they have different beliefs than others?

In 2015, Oregon Umpqua Community College was home to a shooting that specifically targeted Christians. Eight students and a professor lost their lives, while eight or nine more were injured.

To me, it’s starting to look as though freedom of religion means that your beliefs must be private and never public.  

Religion is something that should be celebrated, talked about and explored. Religion should not be something you lock in a box until you are alone.

Freedom of religion isn’t something that is just being taken away from one particular religion.

Christians, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists and many other religious groups are all being victimized based on their beliefs. We need to band together, respect one another and learn to live in a united fashion.

Pope Francis once said, “It’s the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people.” Notice how it doesn’t say “defend and promote religious freedom for only yourselves.”

If we want religious freedom, we have to want it for everyone.

 

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University of Southern Indiana's student publication
Freedom of religion