Religion has always played a large role in the history of the world. Many wars have been fought in the name of religion, and men, women and children have died in sacrifice to their beliefs. The United States of America was created in the name of religious freedom. The Puritans, a minority sect of the Anglican Church, heavily persecuted in England, were given permission by the King to live in the American colonies. Whether the King acted out of charity or his own desire to be rid of them is not certain.
Religious dogma is often hypocritical, and the Puritan example is no exception. These strict Protestants, who fled their own homeland to practice their beliefs in peace, treated the native people of America the same way they had been treated in England. Their notion of “religious freedom” only applied to themselves. This Puritanical dogma is still followed in this country today. Although we are a democracy based on equal rights and opportunity, a common religion is still something our present leaders would like to enforce upon their citizens. But how far will the citizens let them go?
Especially after the terrorist attack of New York City on September 11, a year ago, religious maxims and the “love of God” have been thrown around as frequently as swear words; in some cases by people who were previously only using swear words. “In God we trust” has become even more strongly a part of political speeches as well as church sermons. This only gave President Bush’s ideas for faith-based programs and prayer in schools, which seemed absolutely outrageous to most Americans last year, a new, more attentive audience. God, indeed, seems to be everywhere.
To me, this raises several questions. Why did people become more God-loving after the attack? Would not a devastation of that nature make people wonder, why? If God loves us, why would he let so many innocent people die? Instead, people turn to blind faith in something comfortable rather than facing the true magnitude of the event.
Not that there is only fault with faith. Faith in something outside of the ordinary, mundane existence often makes a person strong enough to have faith in themselves. That part of religion is almost understood to be seen in mass numbers after such an event. But why is there such a strong uprising of Christian morals and rules in this country now, to the extent that other religions are looked down upon, if not persecuted?
The first instinct many Americans had after the attack was to rid this country of Islamic followers, because many people see the attacks as Islamic hate for Christians. Fear of Satanism is also higher since the attack.
The people who fear other cultures the most want to be free from terrorist acts themselves, and want religious freedom, but do not approve of religious freedom for anyone else.
Although the government recognized that the attack was an act made by individuals and not one and the same with a particular religious group or culture, and strove not to stereotype, even a year later people of Arab descent or who follow the teachings of Islam are viewed as suspicious and potentially dangerous to “true” Americans.
American politicians and citizens need to curb their desire to amend policies that give people the right to be who they are. The constitution, the very core of American freedom, clearly allows all citizens of the country to practice any religion they see fit, including Satanism, for those who so choose. America is one of the few countries not based on religious rules, and yet so many people in this country today would like to change the rights that we, as Americans, have been enjoying for over 200 years.
Again, I ask, why? Why turn to beliefs that have obviously failed if something so terrible could happen under “God’s watch?” In his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx stated, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” In some aspects, he was correct. People turn to religion and blind faith to explain for them what they cannot answer themselves. It is comforting to think that even after the attack on September 11, there is still a generally good force watching out for all mankind (at least the Christians). This comfort pacifies people and keeps them from mass panic, and, in Marx’s view, under the control of the government.
I would like to be cynical and attempt to argue that our government is using the new rise in religious faith to keep the population under control; however, it is my belief that, at least in this case, the government is in the same state as the people it represents. Our President, not the brightest possible candidate for any office, is even more openly religious than ever before. He has taken his religiousness into his speeches overseas, and is still using this tactic in his campaign to wage war against Iraq, and is receiving little support from the rest of the world. He is as dumbfounded as we are as to how to handle the situation, so he, too, has turned to the “Almighty God” to explain it for him, while I am left to question, “Why?”