On which the Bill of Rights is based
My cousin Dyllan and I are very much alike and get along very well. This is interesting, since we are related by marriage (he is the grandson of my American dad’s sister), I’m more than old enough to be his mother, and we had virtually no contact with each other during his formative years.
Another area in which we differ: he is an
atheist agnostic and I’m a Christian. To present another contrast, he grew up as a practicing Catholic and served as an altar boy, while I grew up with almost no Christianity in my home; I became a born-again Christian in my mid 30s.
With these things in mind, Dyllan suggested that I write about the idea of “freedom from religion” and I warned him that my idea of this might be different from his; of course, he knew that. Dyllan is also a writer, so he will probably give his perspective on the topic, especially if I badger him to death about it.
So here we go.
If one listens to a number of sermons from Christian nondenominational clergy, one will sometimes hear the term “religion” spoken in a pejorative sense and here’s why: what many Christians and former Christians think of as Christianity is, in reality, man-made tradition — religion.
Case in point. During last week’s funeral service of Former President George H. W. Bush, it was noticed that President Trump did not recite or read along with the Apostles Creed as the Episcopal clergy conducting the service led the recitation. This resulted in the usual Twitter Outrage Mob finger-pointing.
My favorite response was this one:
“Recite the Apostles Creed, you degenerate!”
Punctuation mine. I do so love the irony of the religious demand juxtaposed with the accusation.
Anyway, the howls and screeches of HERETIC!!!! far outnumbered the voices which pointed out that many, if not most, evangelical, charismatic, and fundamentalist churches – read: Protestant non-mainline — don’t conduct liturgical services and don’t have a formula as to how services must be conducted.
Religion is the demand that one must do certain things in addition to the one thing explicitly stated by Jesus the Christ in John 20:31 (and elsewhere) in order to be a follower of Christ. This is what I think of as “religion” – as opposed to relationship, that is, relationship with God via the singular means stated in that passage.
(And because all too many are wont to read into what’s said rather that receive ideas with good faith, I don’t see anything wrong with liturgical services; I just don’t believe that liturgy is mandatory.)
Therefore, when I think of Freedom from Religion, I think of freedom from allowing human beings to forcibly insert themselves between me and my God; to dictate the terms of that relationship. Included in that number are the human beings who did this so long ago, that many of us Christians have come to believe that those insertions are essential to Salvation.
It’s like being a third party in a marriage.
UPDATE: Dyllan gives his response. Good stuff! I also made some corrections in this essay.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Gab.
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