December is full of celebrations, family gatherings, and religious services. Many cultures developed celebrations of light, and each has a unique way of touching the participants. It’s a truly special time, and religious tolerance makes the whole season richer.
Religious tolerance is baked into the bill of rights in the US due to what the founders saw in their lifetimes. After all, the first settlers here came to escape religious persecution, and for all that they pushed their choices on others.
The first amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” In short, the government cannot mandate a religion in the US.
The first amendment itself is a compromise. At the time, certain factions didn’t want these in the Constitution, so they became amendments. Even in the framing of government documents, the decision was not unanimous.
Modern interpretations of the first amendment cover both of religion and from religion. It’s this that removed mandatory Christian prayer in schools, for example, since it would violate the freedom from religious interpretation.
Of course, religion is still part of society, but it remains on a more personal level. This personal level colors how people interact with the whole and adds more depth to society when people are not afraid to practice their culture or made to feel lesser than for it.
One way to embrace religious tolerance is by learning about religious celebrations that are not our own. The shift is often uncomfortable at first since we don’t know as much as we know about our own practices. However, it’s a great option to expand our worldview.
If we want to, this is the season to learn. Many unique religious institutions welcome people learning about their beliefs, especially over the holiday season. Your local community may even have inclusive events you can simply turn up to.
Happy Holidays from the USS Lilith