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Trevor Nelson, Published July 06 2009

Separate church, state necessary

Many in the Fargo area see the Red River Freethinkers’ actions regarding the Ten Commandments monument as pointless. “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it,” they say. Let me pose a scenario:

Picture a possible future Fargo. A rapidly growing Islamic community causes a change in the regional religious demographic, to the point where the majority of elected city officials are now Muslim. They decide to remove the Ten Commandments and put up a monument to the Black Stone of Mecca, with the Five Pillars of Islam engraved around it.

Would the Christians then say, “It’s a symbol of what the majority believe, and we really don’t have the right to say anything about it because we’re now the minority. So if that’s what the city leaders now want, we’re fine with that.” Majority rules, right?

By allowing our leaders to endorse any religion, it’s a short step to imposing their beliefs on everyone. “Blue laws” are a perfect example of this. Many states have now deemed “blue laws” unconstitutional, yet in North Dakota they are still enforced. Sectarian governments, often with good intentions, can make bad rules that infringe on the rights of everyone, regardless of belief.

I know many will dismiss this, believing it could never happen. Yet as close as Michigan, Islamic communities are taking legal action to allow their calls to prayer projected in their communities the same as Christian church bells. Times are changing.

This is exactly why our Founding Fathers created a separation of church and state. This is why they put no religion in the Constitution, giving Americans freedom of – or from – religion. They understood all too well that sometimes “majority rule” does not allow “liberty and justice for all.” I believe this is the fundamental freedom the Freethinkers’ actions are trying to protect.