The idea of offering respect to the religious institutions has never been a terrible thought. It is a respect originally generated from the purpose of wisdom that can be provided by these entities. They hold the status of non-profit organizations in the same fashion as charities, due to the services provided to the community. This very idea at its core holds steady with beliefs set down by some of the great fathers and mothers of the country. In fact, it is crucial to the ideal that no religion is established by the government or prohibited in its practice. It is a principle that would be difficult for any citizen to avoid supporting.
However, it has begun to feel that such a simple principle has been corrupted and ruined by the activities of these organizations. That is not to say that all are, but when an organization grows large enough to create its own form of lobbying, it may be time to re-examine this situation. As many have concluded in the past, there is an understood and well-supported case that the US Constitution speaks of a separation of church and state. This separation works to help offer the religious organizations the special tax exempt status, yet some of these organizations have become a political tool to influence the congregations. This is the line. Once a tax exempt entity enters the arena of the state, the separation is gone and the exemption is void.
Now some might consider it to be difficult to make a judgment of how far is too far or that freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Consider that statement and remember that it is a barrier to help protect the state from the establishment of a single religion while protecting the various religions from being persecuted as being the wrong religion for the whole country. It is not a matter of negotiation for how far, but a simple concept of keeping the structure protected. If a tax exempt organization steps into a position that will influence the state, it loses its status.
On the same principle, the state does not cross the line either to establish a single tax exempt organization above others. Now, it is understandable that one religion or charitable group might have a majority, but it needs to remain separate. Imagine what would happen if the Red Cross become so imbedded in the state that other charities could not raise donations to support their cause. Yes, we know that the Red Cross serves in emergencies and disasters, but we still need those charities that support research into cancer and various social causes. We need to have a level playing field and not some lopsided debate.
In the end, the point remains that tax exempt status for non-profit organizations should be honored to those that remain inside the guidelines. The boundaries occur for a reason and once they are broken, all the guarantees of a stable society are in jeopardy. What is the point of a democracy if the voices of the many are drowned out by the voices of the few? There is no doubt in my mind that if we can find our balance again, we will never stop our progress as a country and a world of human kind.
Have I lost my innocence? I once thought and believed with all my soul that United States of America was the greatest country on this planet. We had spirit and tradition that drew us together like no other force. We created patriotism and national pride without the heavy weight of forcing the citizenry to follow along. It was the deep faith in the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that pulled us through the wars and hardships. We nearly divided over those same thoughts until someone used the duct tape of the Constitution to hold us together. We are US citizens and we need to remember the core values that hold us together.
It is not some ideological, partisan fife that we should be marching to. It is the simple faith that we are Americans. No force in the universe can shatter that belief if we remember to hold strong to it. Just because we have our differences on opinion, lifestyles, or public policies, it is not reason to break the bonds of brotherhood that brought this great nation together. We fought tyranny in the form of a monarchy to become free of such concepts. We fought each other to understand the very soul of humanity that we represent. We fought the harsh realities of intolerance and ignorance to keep a single regime from wiping out an entire group of people for being different. We have become the very ideal of freedom that some fundamentalists would hope to destroy from within and without. There is little reason to allow that enemy to win.
Old fashion traditions have held us together for so long. We are a divided people because of our very nature, which comes from the forefathers. We were divided on the ideals of our society then, but we came together to compromise to the middle and make a nation that I respect and honor with my actions everyday. We should not let the politics and harsh rhetoric pull us apart and keep us apart. We elect a leader to hold us under a single voice for one branch, but we hold that person in check with an assembly in the other branches. It does little good to pout and kick our feet when it does not go our way. We are not spoiled children. We are American citizens and honorable adults. Let’s start acting that way.
One last thought and I will let this go. Most feel that the arts and entertainment of our culture has corrupting elements. Tones and topics which are inappropriate for young children can be found in examples, but there are wide sweeping themes that inspire new visions and arts for the future. I understand that it is important to protect the young minds so that traditions and ideals can be passed on, but think about something for me. When in a crisis or disaster, who is it that we turn to as a society? As a whole, who are we going to embrace to get us through those tough times? I find that it is the irony of the ages that the one thing that holds us true to our course is the very thing that never escaped Pandora’s Box. It is the very thing that settles into our soul and protects us from our own worries and despairs. In an essence, Tolkien and, in his own way, Joss Whedon direct our understanding of the human nature through the entity of Hope. It is shared in the definition that life without hope is despair. If we despair, we become nothing but the cruel, twisted life forms that seek only to consume others and their brains. In other words, hope is our foundation and refuge. Don’t waste it with removing it from our world.
So, have I lost my innocence? NO. I seek the future that has not been written and aim to write my own. I dwell on the very essence that we are all humans with a wide variety of differences. In these differences, there is hope that we will never despair and remain the unshakable force that we all hope to be.
By the way, go and vote tomorrow. There is little reason not to. Some feel that it is pointless, but they are the ones that despair. Nothing is written. Hope can change who we are. Find your liberality and cognizance to avoid being a zombie!