Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Oozing Patriotism




Oozing Patriotism






I am a true patriot. I always have been.

I am a red-blooded American! My patriotism doesn’t just tip-toe along as borderline corny; I am full-blown “I love America”, getting teary-eyed listening to patriotic music, standing at the position of attention during the Star-Spangled Banner, I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks patriotic. I don’t own t-shirts with eagles flying around carrying the American flag or anything; but if I did, I would totally rock them like every day!

My love for this country predates my time in the Marine Corps. I was raised from childhood to love and cherish the fact that I was born in such a great country. The freedoms I enjoy here--granted by the bloodshed of past military veterans and defended by current service members--are unparalleled throughout the world. I live not only in the greatest nation on Earth, but the greatest nation in Earth’s history.

I have skirted the bounds of blind devotion for just a moment to lay down for you the foundation upon which I have built my adoration for my country. Yet, I am not blindly naive to the point that I think my country is perfect. We struggle with poisonous politics, historical racism, institutionalized sexism, and other forms of bigotry being hurled from both sides of the aisle. And recently, we have seen what appears to be a move away from what I believe to be among the most important of the freedoms established by the Founding Fathers: religious freedom.



“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience...” (AoF 1:11)

In the LDS Church, we believe that this country was founded upon the precepts of religious freedoms specifically in order to pave the way for the restoration of the gospel. Despots throughout history--including Christian dictators and emperors--have attempted to force their subjects to conform to religious beliefs that they (the rulers) have adopted and approved. The Roman emperors crucified the early Christians simply for being Christians; but when Constantine adopted Christianity, it became legal--and even fashionable--to persecute non-Christians. Even today, we see rulers in the middle east who governmentalize the precepts of Islam through Sharia law--and who respond harshly and completely against any detractors.

However, world religions relied on the Declaration of Independence to finally establish, in political form, what Heavenly Father had decreed from the foundations of existence: that every person must be totally free to choose his or her own path when it comes to the eternal perspective of religious belief, moral character, and the ethics of “right and wrong”. Heavenly Father divinely appointed us our free agency, and He will never infringe upon that agency. Before the establishment of true freedom of religion here in our great nation, though, we believe that rulers of the past blatantly usurped that free agency via political edict.

We in the Church celebrate Independence Day with a spiritual twist because we believe that independence was divinely provided in order to reestablish--once and for all--true religion in this dispensation.



“...and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (AoF 1:11)

One of the most important precepts of true religious freedom is the concept that religious freedom is a two-way street. We believe not only that we are afforded religious freedom, but also that we allow others the same freedom.

This is where the water starts to get really muddy.

What is religion? What if someone claims a religious belief that blatantly offends widely-held social norms? What someone’s religion more than suggests the eradication of your own religion?

These are questions that I cannot answer for YOU. I can only answer them for ME. But I can make a few suggestions:

  • We were taught by the Master Himself that love and respect should triumph within our hearts--and that is regardless of what others may think, feel, or act toward us. So when it comes to questions about other people’s religions or religious beliefs, err on the side of compassion.
  • The general authorities have reiterated the words of the Master time and again: we love others with no judgment on our parts.
  • I personally have found my heart to be much less burdened with cumbersome guilt when I have chosen the path of love.

See a pattern?

Religious freedom is an extension of free agency--the God-given right to choose light or dark, purity or corruption, obedience or transgression. With our agency, we are free to choose to be Mormon, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Pastafarian, Agnostic, Satanist, Scientologist, or any of hundreds (possibly thousands) of other religious creeds. Neither God nor Man--and damn sure not Government--has a right to relinquish that ability to choose. It took the establishment of this nation to finally free us from governmental religious oppression in any form.



So… Happy Independence [from religious persecution] Day!

Happy Independence [from deadly martyrdom] Day!

Happy Independence [from forced religious worship] Day!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE [for the greatest nation ever] DAY!!!

References:

  1. Articles of Faith 1:11. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1?lang=eng

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