Author Responds To Reader Who Objects To
A Citizen's Right To Be Free From Religion"

First, I want to thank all the readers who responded positively to my last column "A look on the Bright side of social and religious issues". I appreciate the time you took to send your supportive messages.

One reader however, insists that she should have her freedom of religion but denies me my freedom from religion.

She wrote, "Per your article.... This Country was founded for Freedom OF religion... NOT FROM religion... As you can see by the attachment, people that believe as you, are destroying our History. Changing the truth.. Believe or not, you will stand before your CREATOR some day... Life is short eternity is forever... this is your testing period."

Here is my response.

Thank you for your response to my recent column in CNI. Its good that we can dialogue about these important issues.

Let me start out by saying, I respect you and your beliefs. I simply do not agree with you. You insist that we are supposed to have freedom OF religion. That's fine as far as it goes. I respect your views and I would never deny you or anyone else the freedom to practice the religion of your choice. In fact, I would fight for your right to practice the religion of your choice, so long as you did not break the laws of the land.

But I'm a bit confused here. Are you saying that our government should have the power and the right to force me to choose a religion and practice it? If you can have the right to choose a religion but I am not allowed NOT to choose a religion, what happened to the word freedom here? That just doesn't make any sense to me. Yes, I am a Bright - a Bright and an Atheist. My world view is naturalistic. I am also a moral person as I suspect you are. We just make sense of the world from different perspectives. I respect you. I want you to respect me. That's all there is. There ain't no more.

If I was a religious person, I wouldn't want the government meddling in my church affairs. My many religious friends (Christians and Jews) tell me they do not want government strings on their doctrines, their faith or their charity. (Aside: One of my daughters converted to Judaism. I attended three Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and celebrated my grandchildren's achievements. I am not a bigot.)

To my way of thinking, a government that denies its citizens their right to practice a religion of their choice does more harm than good. e.g. Communist governments.

By the same token a government that requires its citizens to practice the state mandated religion does more harm than good. Afghanistan is a good example here. (actually I should say a bad example) That's just recent history. What the history books fail to highlight to our youth is the multitude of atrocities committed by governments that insisted all citizens follow a particular religion. I won't even go there, I respect your intelligence too much to bore you with the details.

There is no way I will enter into a debate with you or anyone about which religion is the right religion, or whose side god is really on. However, I do think the separation of state and church is in the best interest of all of us.

By the way, there ARE Brights in foxholes, on our fire departments, in our helping professions, in our peace corps, etc. You know what I mean. Brights do not cause tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and they did not cause the demolition of the twin towers. We are just people like you.

All we want is respect, and the separation of state and church. It's in both of our self interests.

—M. LaCourt

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