Letter to the Editor: That remarkable First Amendment

First Amendment copy

| Photo courtesy of FindLaw.com

Here is how part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

Protestant friends once told me that their minister told them that Catholic priests were so close to the devil that they had tails. Fortunately, by the time they told me that, they were no longer checking me out for a tail, if they ever were tempted to do that. 

But people did believe things like that. Years ago they might have been tempted to do something about it. They would have acted on their belief that evil should not be allowed to exist. 

Here is a translation of the First Amendment: Even though you think your neighbor is seriously wrong, keep your beliefs to yourself and behave with courtesy. 

Our country seems to be in danger of too many people forgetting the lesson that prompted the First Amendment: religious wars that went on for decades and centuries.  We are divided over two issues: is abortion an evil that our government should prevent? Did Donald Trump win the 2020 election? 

These beliefs are held so strongly that we could call them religious beliefs. But our country has a tradition of dealing with conflicting religious beliefs without violence. 

Violence is a tool of control. We are not called to control people who have religious ideas different from ours. We are called to treat them with respect. Maybe, like with the people who believed priests had tails, things will calm down enough that we can lock up the guns for good. We have learned that such an outcome is possible and has happened many, many times in our history.

Let us hope that it happens again in our time. 

Brother Joe Zimmerman
Holy Cross Friary
Quincy, Illinois

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