What of religious freedom?

In response to Augusta Chronicle reporter Susan McCord’s report that an anti-religion group from Wisconsin is questioning the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast (“Prayer breakfasts scrutinized,” July 7), it saddens me that any group would object to the fact that, once a month, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver gathers with men and woman of different faiths – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – to pray for the people of this city.

Our Founding Fathers believed in God, and did not have any hesitation in referring to the Creator in our Declaration of Independence. In that document they stated, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that
all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness ... .”

Our Founding Fathers believed that true happiness is something endowed by our Creator. Our nation was founded on belief in God. The president takes his oath of office by placing his hand on the Bible, the Word of God, and ends with, “So help me God.” In our Pledge of Allegiance we say “one nation under God.” On our money is “In God We Trust.” Our Congress has a chaplain, begins each session with a prayer and provides for chaplains for the military.

As a man of faith, I want to pursue my right to true happiness. As a patriotic American, I do not hesitate to say that God has made a huge difference in my life, and, I believe, a huge difference in the life of our country. I would hope that people of faith always will be able to freely talk about our God and allow his will to direct our lives. This is a precious grace that He has given to us.

Our country was founded on this concept of religious freedom. Our Founders may have opted for a separation of church and state, but not for a separation of God and state. For a person of faith, dividing life into the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. There is not now, there never was and there never will be the purely secular – that is, anyone or anything that is not dependent on God.

What the Constitution guarantees is not freedom from religion but freedom of religion – freedom to practice religion. The irony – the contradiction – is that those who are pushing for freedom from religion are actually pushing their own religion, which is secular humanism. We would all be spiritually poorer if this became the established “religion” of this great land. In a country as wonderfully diverse as ours, I pray that they do not succeed.

The Rev. Jerry Ragan

Augusta

 

(The writer is pastor of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church.)

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