Religion in America Might Not Be a Matter of Choice


Religion is believed to be a necessity in the lives of some individuals living in the United States, to which these beliefs might depend on several factors relating to an individual’s upbringing and/or cultural background. Having a belief in a high power would only naturally seem to be harmless since it is technically considered to be a matter of personal choice from a generalized point of view. The history of the concept of having a belief in a religion in America can be traced back as far as the colonial days when the United States was only comprised of just thirteen colonies and operated under the laws of England. Many of the settlers who migrated from another country may have brought along a preconceived notion of how to build a strong nation properly based on the religious beliefs that were already familiar on account of being practiced in former countries. Several years later after the thirteen colonies became more established, it is likely that most people began questioning the necessity of being under the principles of state law collaborated with religion. Some may have felt that any religious beliefs should not be implemented as a foundation for determining how the law of the land should be determined for the people, thus forming a clause to be included within the Declaration of Independence to substantiate a difference between the church and the state.

Religious symbols, such as the cross, can be normally seen located on display at a variety of public locations throughout America, and is considered to be one of the most prominent symbols for the Christian religion. A common association with the symbol of the cross would be a cemetery because it is traditionally used as a marker for a grave site on a burial ground. One parallel example of a cemetery site that is more so implied rather than designated to be a burial ground, would be the location famously known as Ground Zero, the site of the tragic incident that took place on September 11, 2001 in New York City with the collapse of the World Trade Center. On this site, it is believed that not all of the human remains from the victims who have died in this tragedy were successfully recovered, thus possibly implying this territory to be considered as a burial ground in a sense. While searching through the rubble for bodies, dead or alive, the search team came across a miraculous discovery: two large steel beams welded together in the shape of a cross. This artifact was later chosen to be on display at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, however, to have this cross on display greatly displeased a group of individuals who do not honor the religion commonly associated with the symbol of the cross; the American Atheists.

Several attempts were made by the American Atheists to file petitions in court to have the group’s opinion heard and constitutional rights exercised in regards to having the cross removed, claiming the cross was offensive to the members of the group as well as to anyone who does not believe in religion in general, especially that of Christianity. The group’s petitions were presumed to be founded on the principle of separation of church and state since the cross would be technically be on public (or state) grounds, and tax payers are expected to help fund the display. After several  attempts to convince the courts that the cross was symbolically promoting religion, the American Atheists seem determined to exercise the constitutional right to be heard in a court of law on the premise of removing the 9/11 cross from public view. In a nutshell, no matter how Americans choose to regard the 9/11 cross, or choose to view religion in general, there may never come a time when all Americans will be on one accord when it comes to religion. Maybe the best possible solution for all Americans could be to agree to disagree.

Opinion by Stephanie Tapley

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