Commentary: A refresher course in America’s religious freedom

By Grover W. Johnson

Even though I know that Mr. David C. Pleasanton will never admit he is wrong, I feel compelled to correct his opinion letter of Aug. 14, “A Democrat no more.”

He really does not know U.S. history, nor the Constitution.

By comparison, I would explain my own political affiliation. I lived in Henrico County, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond, when I became eligible to vote at 21.

The first time I voted, in 1957, was for the Republican candidate for governor. He was saying that Virginia must learn to accept integration. It was inevitable.

The Democrat vowed he would never allow it in Virginia. Of course, the Democrat was elected.

Eventually, I did register as a Democrat, since the Republicans sometimes never even offered a candidate. The primary was the only thing one could vote on. To my everlasting shame, I did vote for Richard Nixon in 1960.

After the Southern Strategy by the Republicans, I have very rarely found any Republican whom I could support.

Now, as to Mr. Pleasanton’s opinions, he is positively wrong in saying that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom. They had left England for that, and gone to Holland. Moving to a country almost as advanced as England, they found it difficult to establish themselves and make a lot of money. So, they sailed for what was then Virginia.

Once they settled there, taking land from the natives, they established the Puritan Church as the only legal religion in New England. Dissidents were chased out, placed in stocks, or executed as witches.

Later, Maryland was established so Roman Catholics could live without discrimination. But, when the Protestants outnumbered them, the Catholics were not allowed to vote.

The same sort of thing happened in Pennsylvania, only it was the Quakers this time. As soon as the Anglicans outnumbered the Quakers, they [the Quakers] were disenfranchised.

Knowing this, it becomes a real stretch to say that America was founded on Freedom of Religion. It was not until the First Amendment and the Constitution were established that the struggle for religious freedom could begin. One only has to follow current events to see that we are still not allowing true freedom of religion. The idea of forbidding Muslims to immigrate to the U. S. is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made several clearly mistaken opinions under Conservatives to become the law of the land. Allowing a business organization to have the same rights as a human being is ridiculous. Misinterpreting the Second Amendment has created a serious danger to our existence. Allowing Republicans to disenfranchise people they do not agree with is atrocious.

The word “socialism” has been badly misinterpreted, and is a false bogeyman. Socialism is an economic system, not a form of government.

Personally, I think our society could not work very well in a true socialist system. But, we sure have messed up with the free market system!

The thing I find most difficult to understand is how Republicans continue to blame President Obama for all our problems, while using the control of Congress to try to stop him from accomplishing anything. It should be totally obvious that a market economy cannot work if only a tiny fraction of the people have enough money to operate “freely.” If I do not have enough money to buy something, I will not buy it. This is true for everybody.

Let me make my last point. It strikes me as comical that the Republicans complain about “political correctness,” but castigate President Obama for not using their term of “Radical Muslim Terrorists.”

It’s a great world if we don’t weaken.

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