Today we celebrate International Religious Freedom Day. Americans often take the freedom of religion for granted as the right to freely worship is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. We forget that nearly five billion people live in countries that severely restrict religious freedom and many face the death penalty if they fail to conform.
While the Middle East and Africa currently hold the dubious distinction of being the two geographic areas where religious intolerance and outright persecution is most prevalent, no one country is completely free of prejudice (although Canada certainly comes very close). Even here in the United States, free thinking spiritualists often face derision from many adherents to the ‘organized’ religions.
From the viewpoint of the independent theist, fundamentalists and religious extremists dominate the theological and political landscape to such an extent that any affiliation with organized religion is undesirable; to be avoided at all costs on principal alone. We still worship our God(s) in private and hope for a more tolerant future, one of respect and cooperation where our children can safely explore their own spirituality without fear of reprisal.
Individuals following the religious traditions of indigenous cultures and adherents of contemporary paganism have always been easy targets for the unmitigated hatred of the zealot, for they do not have a centralized organization to protect them from persecution. More recently, even devout theists from traditional churches have been ostracized and demoralized, forced to assume the label of spiritual but not religious, or worse, categorized as ‘irreligious’ because they refuse to conform to an archaic and stifling tradition that no longer has any personal relevance to the modern spiritualist.
The loss of our religious affiliation and our continued lack of organization allows extreme fundamentalist groups to dictate administrative policy, deeply integrating their strict religious morality into every facet of secular law. It also clears the way for groups such as the so called Tea Party here in America and the Taliban in the Middle East to conduct campaigns of such malicious hatred that they become virtually unopposed in their verbal and often violent aggression toward anyone who disagrees with their oppressive point of view. The negative consequences of fundamentalist rule are heinous indeed.
The Free Faith Movement will put an end to fundamentalist tyranny; by standing together, unified by the very spiritual freedom that our opponents so despise, we will ensure that the ideals of individual equality and religious liberty are never discarded. With one voice we affirm our support for the freedom of religion on a global scale and we hereby give extremists fair warning. Their days are truly numbered for we are the silent majority no longer and we will accept nothing less than absolute equality.
We will peacefully worship our God(s) however we choose. We will legally marry those we love, before our God(s) and without prejudice, in a ceremony of our own faith. We will freely educate ourselves, seeking enlightenment through knowledge, and we will no longer allow ourselves to be legally or physically victimized by ignorant zealots. We proudly take our place as free and equal members of our communities and will no longer tolerate discrimination in our laws or our lives. Together, we will prevail.