Viewpoint: I now pronounce you church and state

Tea was a hot topic for our ancestors. More controversial than a debate between Grounds for Coffee and Starbucks. Our Bostonian progenitors were dissatisfied with this snobby beverage, and most things in general.

The government of the United States of America was established as a response to dissatisfaction with monarchy. This angst stemmed from many sources, not the least of which was in regards to preference of beverage. It was this straw, steeped in the cries for liberation from tyranny, that broke the camel’s back.

This point of our heritage comes with a certain degree of irony, noting that stubbornness and independence are among the most fundamental traits that piece together our cultural heritage. Moving from our colonial roots to modern-day America, our citizens are diverse in their respective tea parties.

Some would rage over civil rights, arguing that equality is the breaking point for a democracy. Others feel as though financial freedoms reign supreme, and that their efforts would support the quality of life for the rest of the country. Aside from taxation, quartering troops and cultural superiority, America was born out of the idea that no one group could tell a majority they were wrong, for any reason, including reasons based on religious beliefs.

The freedom of belief drove puritan ancestors to Plymouth Rock. It founded the American Colonies. Freedom of belief was a banner waved over the Revolutionary War, and a consolation to the first public servants.

It is this freedom that must be maintained. 2014 finds a more diverse and complicated country. Instead of varying sects of Protestantism and the occasional ill-reputed Catholic, we have Muslims, Jews, Humanists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Smaller groups are still valued within the fabric of America, including atheists, Hindus and a rising sect of Christianity known as the Mormons.

It’s not enough to simply state that the freedom of religion is a valued right. We must also secure that right for all involved, regardless of belief. It is for this reason that the other factor within our ancestors’ pilgrimage must also be maintained, namely by keeping religion separate from our government.

Given the current diversity of belief, it is impossible to favor any sect of any belief system without stepping on the pious toes of another. Looking across the country, piety can be seen uplifting citizens and families, as well it should. But when that same piety starts seeping out of our courts and legislatures, it would seem as though equal representation is not a common goal to be had, and that inevitably private interest will pigeonhole other belief systems into a corner.

Regardless of faith, belief or conscience, it is the duty of our government to ensure the religious rights of all of its citizens. Some individuals may hold their beliefs more dear than others do, but as a governing official and public servant, it is their obligation to ensure that no belief is left behind another in legislation.

Regardless of one’s conviction and dedication to their own beliefs, it cannot and should not overturn the rights and opinions of others, despite how true they believe it to be.

In the government’s eyes, it’s really a question of preference. Whether people choose to take cream or sugar with their legislation is their choice. Let us remember that as we throw our controversy into the Chesapeake Bay.

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