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Freedom of or from religion?Daniel Johnson--Deputy Executive Editor
Perhaps there is a god; he’s just tired of Americans, being so full of themselves.
(Calgary, Alberta) - Outside the Islamic world, the U.S. is the most religious nation on earth. Canada and the European nations are all nominally religious in orientation, but no one takes their religion more seriously than the American people. The Constitution supposedly guarantees the separation of church and state but in reality, it does no such thing. In principle, it means that the government cannot establish or promote any particular religion. And yet, in 1956, President Eisenhower made “In God We Trust” the national motto.
Whose god? Don’t ask. (If it comes up to Rick Santorum, it will be his Catholic god)
Our lesson for today comes from Texas, the only state where its Constitution specifically says that in order to be governor, the person must declare a personal belief in the God of Texas. Obviously no religious freedom there—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., are disqualified by law from occupying the state’s highest elected office.
A year ago, with Texas on fire from 8,000+ wildfires brought on by extreme drought, Governor Perry declared:
“I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”
Things just got worse with a rainless spring, followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history. By the end of August, Texas took a dramatic turn for the worse. Nearly all of the state was in “extreme or exceptional” drought, as classified by federal meteorologists; the worst in Texas history.
If there is, indeed a god, there may be an explanation in this joke:
A very religious man lived right next door to an atheist. While the religious man prayed day in, day out, and was constantly on his knees in communion with his Lord, the atheist never even looked at a church. However, the atheist's life was good, he had a well-paying job and a beautiful wife, and his children were healthy and good-natured, whereas the pious man's job was strenuous and his wages were low, his wife was getting fatter every day and his kids wouldn't give him the time of the day. So one day, deep in prayer as usual, he raised his eyes towards heaven and asked, "Oh God, I honour you every day, I ask your advice for every problem and confess to you my every sin. Yet my neighbour, who doesn't even believe in you and certainly never prays, seems blessed with every happiness, while I go poor and suffer many an indignity. Why is this?"
A great voice thundered from above, "Because he doesn’t bother me all the time!
Perhaps there is a god; he’s just tired of Americans, notably Texans, being so full of themselves. Last year, a week before announcing his run for the Republican presidential nomination, Perry said: “As a nation, we must call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles.”
Fast forward to today
Under legal pressure and public criticism, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, (TAPPS) which organizes competitions for more than 200 schools, recently agreed to admit an Orthodox Jewish school and reschedule a basketball game that would have violated the Sabbath.
But that seems to be the limit. One Islamic high school applied to join TAPPS in 2010. In reply, they received a questionnaire that asked:
“It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?” and
“What is your attitude about the spread of Islam in America?”
The Iman Academy in Houston, wanted to join the local soccer competition. It filled out the questionnaire but was denied membership. At least two other Islamic schools didn’t even bother sending in the questionnaire.
Polling their membership, TAPPS found that 52 of 83 respondents (63%) rejected Islamic schools for membership in 2010. Ten schools said they would quit Tapps if Islamic members were admitted.
America, Land of the Free? Think again.
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.
He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.
As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.
Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.
It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.
In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)
Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of spring 2012, has published more than 180 stories.
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