To the editor: This is in response to the recent letter titled, “If religious freedom is constitutionally protected, freedom from religion should also be.”
The viewpoint that freedom of religion should protect a populace from religion is not of sound critical thinking in light of the realities of our constitutional rights. The problem of a lack of sound critical thinking is a matter which the writer and I partially agree on, in that critical thinking and biases are unfortunately proliferate in our society. We disagree in that these deficits are restricted to people of non-agnostic or non-atheistic worldviews. They are not.
Neither is sound critical thinking absent in people of faith. Critical thinking skills are present and absent to varying degrees across every demographic of humanity. To assert otherwise involves bias, which both the writer and I seek to avoid.
The truth is that freedom of religion, not from religion, is a constitutional right in our nation. Our first Amendment reads as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The first amendment protects citizenry with regard to interference from the government in matters of faith. This was not the case in some nations throughout human history. People are therefore free to believe and to participate in whatever religion they so choose. To try to restrict people from doing so is frankly un-American and un-constitutional.
Non-atheistic and non-agnostic citizenry have not only the right to participate in government at the local, state and federal levels but arguably the responsibility to do so, lest people of non-religious worldviews mistreat the majority who do not affiliate as "neither religious nor spiritual” by disallowing them from their rights as citizenry in our democracy. People of non-faith worldviews must compromise or be found in a position of advocating for a state of tyranny as they seek to have a minority dominate the majority. In a democracy, with a system of representation, a demographic of 20 percent of the people making the decisions for the remaining 80 percent is not appropriate, and it is certainly not appropriate for the United States of America.
It is an irony that a currently proliferated incorrect idea of this concept of this non-existent right of freedom from religion, when compared to the actual right of freedom of religion, if acted upon by government would genuinely counteract this right rather than reinforce it. If the writer and those who think like him had their way they would actually be working against the people of the United States, in light of our Constitution, rather than for them.
In summation, the idea of freedom from religion is diametrically opposed to freedom of religion in the United States. The stance of freedom from religion in place of freedom of religion actually opposes the very freedom it claims to support. This is often a logical fallacy of the argument from ignorance. Less commonly it is a subtle manipulation for the purposes of silencing dissent, and this is of greater concern.
Therefore, my question to the writer is thus: Are your assertations from ignorance or are they the result of poor ethics in light of the United States Constitution?
Newfane, Feb. 19