If you want to get people riled up in this country just bring up a religious topic.


picture by clarita

Being that today is the NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, the fighting never ends. A judge in Wisconsin, U.S. District Court Judge of Madison Barbara Crabb to be specific, has stated that the NDP is unconstitutional, violating the ban on government-backed religion. 

If you want to get all wonky, there is a historical reason for our constitution not wanting to establish a national religion. Way back, the earliest immigrants who came to this land were looking for religious freedom. 

If you lived in Europe and were not of the religious faith of the local ruling person, prince, burger, whatever, you could be killed. Catholics did not move away to a Lutheran region, Lutherans and Calvins stayed in their areas. 

People were forcibly moved. The Russians issued pogroms against Jews and Mennonites. (The Mennonites took their incredibly hardy winter wheat with them). If you were different from the mainstream of your area, you were attacked physically eventually. 

So people started coming here to find religious freedom. Some found it, some perpetrated the harsh behavior. Puritans would brand Quakers, a sect that holds their religious services in silence. 

My guess, and this is a strong guess, is that the founding fathers did not want to see the problems of religion of Europe come to this new land. So they stated strongly there would be no state religion. Here it is from the Bill of Rights. 

Amendment 1: 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. 

But the brilliant writers also stated there would be no prohibiting the free exercise of religion. What does that mean? It means we can join a church worshipping bunnies or whatever. AND there will not be a law prohibiting it. This allows the Nazis and the Waco, Texas people and Westboro Baptist Church to exist. 

It is also quite clear that there will be no state religion. We are not a Catholic Nation or a Christian Nation or a Muslim Nation or a Jewish Nation. We are a nation that allows its citizens the freedom to be religious or not, no consequences in this life for that decision. 

Praying together, picture by taliesanDo I wish more people in our nation would come to God? I do, I really do. I think prayer is one way to get closer to God and Jesus. But I also think enough hypocritical religious people have turned off non-believers. “I don’t want to be that guy,” is what non-believers are thinking. I used to say that myself. I hear voices preaching hate and wonder if we read the same bible. 

But this day, whether it is constitutional or not, is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to pray, to take a step closer to God and feel his love and concern. Visit a religious meeting house of your upbringing or choosing this weekend and talk to your God. Chances are he wants to talk to you but wants your heart to be open to hear his words. 

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.