By Beverly Frimpong
Elm Staff Writer
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This is the exact wording of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. It has often been restated as “freedom of religion,” to capture the initial meaning, that the state will give no preference or show favoritism to one religion over another.
Yet, the Founding Fathers must have realized the complete contradiction of this clause to their very establishment, or at least its inevitable failure. This is because it is impossible for a state to be created and grounded in the foundation of one specific religion, that being Christianity, and pursue a polytheistic society. The failures will lie at all times in practice, not in law.
Regardless of the bill’s proclamation and federal laws to establish equality among states, there will always be a sense of betrayal felt by other religions. This is very much like a father professing equal love for all of his children, yet paying extra attention to one over all the others. No matter how miniscule it might seem, it still makes a difference. This miniscule difference is evident in the structure of the various U.S. institutions.
One hint of favoritism is in the words displayed on currency. The U.S. currency has on it “In God We Trust.” Some might argue that America was initially founded on the common belief in God. There are other examples of favoritism evident throughout U.S. institutions. Among these are prayers given by chaplains at the beginning of each Congressional opening, military chaplains serving communion, bailiffs requesting individuals to swear under God, and others.
There have been suggestions that the country should perhaps remove all trace of practices that might insinuate the existence of an official religion. Many are opposed to this change simply because it’s a change from the traditions set by the founders. However, in the determination of maintaining tradition, society might overlook the practical benefits and success of having a non-denominational state, in any shape or form.
This college has no religious affiliation, and as a result, it has avoided all practices that might even suggest favoritism to any specific religion. All religions and denominations are given equal and fair rights to express their beliefs, through assembly or events. Furthermore, George Washington’s Birthday Convocation demonstrates how no one religion receives any preference over another.
This is one of the most momentous events, akin to the Inauguration or Congressional Opening. Yet each year a different a minister, rabbi, priest or another other spiritual leader is given the opportunity to say a prayer or sing a hymn to commemorate this day. This shows that there can still be a religious presence in the nation without the government giving preference to one religion. And the best way to achieve the former and avoid the latter is through the standard set forth by the college.