Since its inception, this nation has been religiously diverse and served as the basis for the constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression and religious belief. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, this was intended to create “a wall of separation between church and state.”
When Europeans first arrived, the indigenous peoples they encountered held a variety of strong spiritual beliefs. Africans who arrived as slaves brought a variety of traditional beliefs as well as Islam. Among the Europeans there was a plethora of ideas among the various Christian sects, and there were even Jews among these early settlers.
Today, however, we are witnessing the efforts of a minority among the religious majority who attempt to impose their beliefs on the rest of us. The most immediately obvious proof of this is the current debate over when life begins and who controls the reproductive process.
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While people with certain religious beliefs certainly have the right to publicly express those beliefs, the Constitution prohibits the imposition of those beliefs on society as a whole. It would certainly benefit society as a whole if all people with religiously based beliefs respected the beliefs of others, even when they were contrary to their own. Religious tolerance would go a long way in bridging the nation’s political divide.