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Religion belongs in the home, but what about the House and Senate?

You have seen them: signs stating “Dios bendiga este hogar.” Their popularity is a testament to the overwhelming adherence to religious faith that characterizes the Latino experience in the U.S.

The last published report by the Pew Hispanic Center on the subject found that only 8 percent of Latinos identify as atheist or agnostic. In the overall population of the country the Pew Center found that despite a changing social panorama, most individuals still report some sort of religious preference.

Securing the right to worship freely was one of the founding principles of the nation. The pursuit of happiness for the majority of individuals includes the freedom to express religious devotion, the right to frame a home and lifestyle according to specific tenets; and, hopefully, as the demographics of the nation change, to claim without negative repercussions, a lack of religious faith.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  The government is not to promote the ideology of one tradition over any other, since such an endorsement could codify the religion thus making it the dominant belief system and relegating other traditions to “outsider” status. Clearly, this would not secure freedom of religion for the growing and changing population that deserves the same freedoms as the dominant culture.

When the cry arises that the U.S. is a Christian nation, I cannot help but think of the First Amendment and of how it is trampled with such a justification; for this is usually not a declaration of faith as much as it is a justification for one group of people to enshrine their religious beliefs into laws and social policy. The declaration is exclusionary and burdensome to those who follow a different religious path, or for those free thinkers who do not base their world view on religious dogma. It is dangerous, destabilizing, and potentially repressive in the same way that it is in any society that seeks to enforce a religious code against its people. Consider the theocratic tendencies of countries in the Middle East, for example.

Imagine a country where, guided by religious principles, a legislator proposes a law that could potentially punish, with death, a woman who suffers a miscarriage. Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin proposed such a law, following a pattern of similar legislative attempts that appear to have had a basis in his religious beliefs. The blatant disregard of separation of (Christian) church and state has its modern day roots in the rise of the “religious right” but it continues with election of candidates who make public their espousal of “Christian principles” and their intent to govern within that context.

Any “minority” segment of a population should have a vested interest in limiting the power of a “dominant” religious philosophy to enshrine laws governing a diverse nation. Without such guardianship, we run the risk of fertilizing a society for the growth of oppressive measures that might eventually curtail our own pursuit of happiness.

About Maitri Pamo

Matri was born in Guatemala City and emigrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was a toddler. Her childhood years were spent in Washington D.C. She was fortunate to have been aided and encouraged to apply to a great school in Virginia by a teacher who saw a spark in her when she taught her in the DC public school system. Maitri was disadvantaged in that she then became the only Latina in her class for many years. When it came time to go to college, she left for New York City, the place of her childhood dreams, to attend Barnard College, Columbia University. She graduated with a degree in Foreign Area Studies, with a concentration in Latin America. When she finally realized what she wanted to do professionally, she enrolled in three extra years of undergraduate coursework in order to fulfill the requirements for application to veterinary medical school. She graduated from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

In addition to her professional life, a life she finds not only rewarding but constantly challenging, Maitri is a wife and a mother of three young children. She is an activist, interested in furthering knowledge, participating and directly involving herself in the areas of human and non human animal rights and environmentalism. She tries to engage in the world around her to influence it as much as she can to help secure a healthy, peaceful living environment for her children and all other living beings on the planet. She is a benevolent misanthrope, a polyglot, a lover of travel. She has wild plans of obtaining a law degree when her children are older. She is currently practicing emergency medicine and volunteers her services wherever they are needed.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. Bad article

  2. I don’t agree

  3. Example: Senator Ruben Diaz uses his religious beliefs in NY and congress. Yes this country wasn’t founded on Christian beliefs but it gets abused in states and in DC against women mostly.

  4. Religion belongs wherever the reverent want it to be. It’s not up to anyone to determine otherwise.

  5. Great article once again Maitri!

  6. Great article! U.S. for democracy; not theocracy.

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