By: Tabitha Garnica
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” ~ 1 Corinthians 10: 31-32
Our society seems to be at an interesting point regarding the way religion is treated and looked upon. We keep hearing about people fighting for “separation of church and state.” However, I feel as though they are not just fighting for the separation of church and state; they are now fighting for separation of church and everything. Slowly but surely, religion is being abstracted. We are at a time in which people get uncomfortable simply mentioning religion in public events or in the media. Freedom “of” religion means that everyone should be free to live out the faith of their choosing, including the lack of a religion, and without the government’s active role in the process. However, freedom “from” religion means that religion should not even be mentioned and is not an important part of society. We should actually hide religion from our culture. Sadly, this seems to be the extreme which our society is approaching. No one should be forced into a religion; yet, no one should feel as though carrying out their religion separates them from normal society.
The way Christmas has been treated in our society has always fascinated me. Years ago, one would be able to say “Merry Christmas” on television without being regarded as insensitive. I understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and we should not behave as though everyone does. However, I do not think that saying “Merry Christmas” should be regarded as an attack on anyone who is not Christian. After all, Christmas has become a much commercialized holiday, and many people who do not actually believe in its religious significance still take part in Christmas traditions. There are songs that have the word Christmas in them that have nothing to do with the birth of our savior. Irving Berlin, who actually wrote “White Christmas”, was Jewish. He obviously was not offended by the inclusion of the word “Christmas” in our society. When I say “Merry Christmas” to someone I do not mean to say, “I am Christian and you must be too!” Rather, I mean to say, “I am joyful about Christmas and I want to share that joy with you!” However, now our society has become so bothered by Christianity that it wants to eliminate the importance of Christmas in our culture. I would, of course, not be offended if someone wished me a Happy Chanukah. It does not bother me that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but it does bother me that I am not allowed to express my happiness about Christmas in public circles.
An experience that I had last school year comes to my mind when I think about the way religion is being treated in our society. The Sisters of Life came to visit our campus and table with the Students for Life club. Shortly after we started tabling, we were told by an authority from the Campus Auxiliary Services that we were not allowed to table on campus with nuns. Even though the nuns were just standing there without trying to impose themselves on students, the presence of religious orders seemed offensive. We were unaware that religious tabling required additional paperwork, which had not been filled out. While the fact that religious tabling needs additional paperwork is upsetting in and of itself, we quickly responded that the Students for Life Club was not a religious organization. The sisters were not trying to “evangelize” or push a specific religion. They were simply standing there giving out pamphlets about how they help women who are pregnant. He responded by saying that it did not matter what they were promoting. Nuns have a religious connotation simply by their appearance, therefore, had the potential to make students uncomfortable. They were being unwelcomed on my college campus because of their religious vows. I am saddened by the idea that priests, nuns, rabbis, and others of religious life cannot function in society without the public having an aversion to them.
Religion is supposed to be a respected aspect of culture. When we learn about ancient civilizations, their religious beliefs and rituals are fascinating, even if we do not share in their beliefs. As an American culture, we should be proud of all the diversity our religions have given us. We should find joy in learning about different religions without fearing that we will have their beliefs forced upon us. Religion should be regarded with the same interest and respect as different languages, backgrounds, and personalities. The more our society hides religion and is embarrassed by it, the less beautiful and tolerant we will be as a country.
Copyright (c) Tabitha Garnica 2013
- No Religion Sign