History tells us that the first English men and women (the first in a long line of immigrants) who came to America, made the decision to leave their homeland in order to be free to practice their religion publicly without fear of persecution or oppression. But is that still true? Are we truly free to follow our own religious convictions? Current events would suggest that this is no longer the case. If most citizens in the country are free to practice their religion but smaller groups of citizens are not, are we any better than the oppressors that drove our ancestors out of Europe? Unquestionably, Christianity is practiced by the largest percentage of U.S. citizens and their history is well established. What if we turn our focus to some of the fringe elements of religions found within our borders? What if we take the time to learn what their beliefs are and whether they are free to practice those beliefs? Below are five articles that report on the violence against those who worship differently than the mainstream public. Even as we hear about the latest picketing by the Westboro Baptist church (more often than not - at the funerals of soldiers who died to give them that right) to spread their, some say, twisted interpretation of the Bible, are we really saying that this is superior to the Amish faith? While they are quick to hide behind the first amendment, they refuse to see that the same amendment also gives their victims that same right. Just as we are free to practice our faith, we are also free to practice no faith. Do you believe that an atheist who does not believe in God; or an agnostic who doesn't believe nor disbelieve but is willing to look at the evidence, is entitled to those same protections? In addition to the articles I have also included two video links one about religious freedom and the other on atheism. I encourage you to watch both and if you write a review of them (not required) you will receive bonus points toward your final project.
Amish School Shooting
Description: A deranged man who had recently suffered the death of his infant daughter, who lived only 20 minutes after her birth, shot 10 Amish schoolgirls, ages 6-13 for revenge against God for her death.
Westboro Baptist Church burns the Quran
Description: Picketing against homosexuals, at the funerals of soldiers who died to give them the right to picket at funerals, is just one part of the hate crimes committed by this group.