The first amendment in the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Pretty words on paper, and in actuality it is true . There are no laws that favor one religion over another in the United States. Therefore anyone can go out and preach their religion to other people. All they need is the opportunity of an open door.
I, myself, have gotten quite a few missionaries to my front door. They usually ask, “Do you attend church?”
“Oh, which one?”
I am grateful I can practice my religion. The UU church is like a second family; however, it does not help any with the missionaries at my door. At this point I usually get a strange look followed by, “I’ve never heard of them.”
“Well it isn’t that large of a church.” And I think, I don’t go shoving my beliefs in your house so don’t go proselytizing your religion in my house.
Yes, as a nation, we are free to practice any religion we want, but if the religion isn’t a part of the Christian sector, one can still feel persecuted if he chooses to stand up for his beliefs. This can be traced all the way to our nation’s infancy.
In 1777 there was a man named, Moses Michael Hays, and he was a practicing Jew. He moved to the colony of Rhode Island because Rhode Island was well known for its religious tolerance. However, when the Revolutionary war broke out, the Rhode Island general assembly declared all Jews had to sign a declaration of loyalty to the American colonies. Hays refused to sign, not because he didn’t believe in our fight for freedom, but because he believed that the freedom being fought for was for everyone. And the loyalty declaration stated, "upon the true faith of a Christian." Once this statement was omitted, Hays had no problem saying he was a patriot. (http://www.eyesofglory.com/familyhist.htm)
Why do Christians try to convert others to Christianity? Is it so hard to let others believe something different?
In Matthew 22:39 Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (RSV Bible)
Therefore one should treat his neighbor as he would like to be treated. I don’t see this as freedom to say, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo, I’m right and you’re wrong!” if your neighbor’s beliefs are different from your own. Yet this is how I feel at the times people knock on my door trying to sell their religious pamphlets and instead give me a strange stare.
I am truly grateful the forefathers of America had the foresight to include the first amendment in the U.S. constitution. It is a Unitarian belief that people should not be required to adhere to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed. It is my opinion Thomas Jefferson fought for the addition of the bill of rights to our constitution because he knew human nature. When someone is fervent in her beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be, it is human nature to say, “I’m in the right; you’re in the wrong.” Without the first amendment no one would be able to come to the U.S. to escape religious persecution even if they find it a struggle to keep those beliefs alive with the onslaught of so many other differing beliefs in this country.
It is this unique freedom of religion, in the U.S., that allows missionaries to go door to door proselytizing their beliefs. This, too, is why I simply say, No thank you, when I find them at my door, instead of putting a voice to my other thoughts. If you don’t begrudge me my beliefs, I won’t begrudge yours.