Sunday, April 17, 2005

Pamela

My name is Pamela and I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am a Conservative Jew and a liberal Democrat. I wholeheartedly believe that a just and righteous society strives to tolerate and respect the beliefs and values of its members.

As an American citizen, I understand that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . " not Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of a religion. I know that it is possible to exercise one’s own religion without infringing on another’s right to religious freedom.

As a person of faith, I resent religion being co-opted for political purposes as much as the hijacking of government for religious purposes. This country was founded by those who wanted to escape the imposition of a religion on non-adherents to that religion. Religion and Spirituality are personal matters; the details of my beliefs, how/what I practice are between G-d and me. It is my responsibility to live in accordance to my moral beliefs (religious or otherwise); it is your responsibility to live in accordance with yours. Just as it is not my right to impose my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) on others, neither the government, nor another person has the right to require my life to be lived in accordance the doctrine of a religion other than my own.

As a person of faith I am disgusted at those among us willing to bastardize that faith in order to use religion as a weapon instead of a salve; focus on condemnation instead of love; legislate decisions for us lest we dare to exercise free will; and/or lay claim of knowledge to what cannot be known for their own political gain/ambition.

As a person of faith, I cringe at use of G-d as a mascot and religion as fodder for slogans/headlines and political campaigns. I do not understand the need for enforced, overt and hypocritical public displays of faith that Matthew 6:5 admonishes against: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen."

As a person of compassion I am aware that we are a diverse country and that tolerance and mutual respect are necessities in a civilized world, and I fully appreciate the true meaning of the words tolerance ("the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others") and respect "to avoid violation of or interference with" when used in this context.

As a person of conscience I am aware of the evil that can arise when the tyranny of the majority is visited upon the minority.

I was raised to believe the United States was a great and unique country. This was a country that learned from history, including our own. This was a land that freed the oppressed and fought the oppressors. This was a country where people could be who they were instead of hiding behind masks out of fear. Jefferson spoke of a wise government that would restrain people from injuring one another while affording its citizens the privacy to live and worship as they see fit providing they do not infringe on another’s equal right to do so. I want that to.

Baruch HaShem!

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