Religious freedom needs freedom of thought

I’m as pious as the next unmarried guy that lives with his girlfriend. My religion doesn’t even get a box on surveys. Nevertheless, however obscure or mainstream your faith may be, it is protected under the umbrella of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is among the foremost things mentioned in the Bill of Rights; its purpose is to ensure that the government will never promote nor restrict a certain religion so that the people are free to choose their own.

But I find myself continually appalled at the average schmo’s grasp of what freedom really is. One thing that freedom certainly is not is the banning of things disagreeable, especially not things disagreeable to you.

As the age of the ninny enters full swing, we find ourselves increasingly convinced that the greatest way to ensure liberty is to ban anything that could possibly be construed as offensive. Leading the charge against all things unsavory is the American Civil Liberties Union and other self-proclaimed experts who have decided that the Ten Commandments are too egregious an insult to the average man to be placed in a public courtroom.

This is all done under the guise of separation of church and state, a theory that worked in this nation for many years before everyone started getting hangnails over people actually being religious. There were almost two full centuries for religion to become embedded in this country.

Obviously, if officials are using personal faith rather than law as the fulcrum of their authority, then there is a problem. The solution to this problem is not an outright banning of all things symbolic. What your friendly neighborhood Marxist who wants all religion gone from society doesn’t quite realize is that it is all around us, both subtle and overt.

For example, while there was a furor over a tiny cross in the seal of a city who’s name means “The Angels,” what was hardly noticed was the much larger representation of the goddess Pomona. There has been no opposition to the Statue of Liberty, who was, herself, modeled after a goddess; nor lady justice, who adorns courtrooms around the nation, who is also, you guessed it, a goddess.

We can also choose to ignore that the ACLU has not lifted a finger over the Muslim call to prayer being broadcast in Hamtramck, Mich. Ask yourself: What is more invasive, a hunk of granite concealed in a building or a loudspeaker that carries over several miles broadcasting five times a day? Don’t the two deserve similar treatment?

But the light brigade fails to realize that religion is part of our culture, and thankfully so at that. Trying to strip it away is only going to polarize our society.

Ultimately, people need to wake up and realize what the freedom of religion means: letting people do their thing while they let you do yours.

Freedom of religion means your neighbor allows you to put a cross in your yard, and you allow him to put up an upside-down cross in his own yard. Once your neighbor has rights taken away, it’s only a matter of time before yours are gone, too.

We must realize that religion at its most basic level is thought, and without freedom of thought there can be no other freedoms. When the courts begin to tell us where we are allowed to express our thoughts, all other freedoms are null and void.

Jonas Hog, Kansas State Collegian, Kansas State University.