Without a doubt, the United States of America is the greatest experiment in freedom and liberty in all of mankind’s history on this planet. Our ancestors migrated to this ‘New World’ centuries ago in large part to escape religious persecution and have the freedom to exercise, or not exercise the religion of their choice, without fear of repercussion from the state for deviating from a “State Religion.”
Nowhere has this concept been shown better than after gaining our Independence from Britain’s King George and putting a constitution in place, our founding fathers wrote in the very first of our 10 Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” Placed before all other rights, our freedom to practice the religion of our choice, unhampered by the state was established.
For most of our history, Christianity, in all of its various factions was the predominant religion, alongside Judaism, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and others to much smaller degrees. Still, everybody practiced freely with few if any problems. Communities held Christian ceremonies and holidays while showing honor and respect to the smaller religions when they held their holidays and ceremonies.
Many of my teachers when growing up were Jewish who all received days off to recognize their holidays. We recited the Lord’s Prayer every morning until the early 1960’s when an atheist woman successfully had prayers in school banned nationwide, citing “separation of church and state,” a concept not recognized in our country until a 1947 Supreme Court Ruling in Everson v. Board of Education that relied on a few words contained in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists stating, “… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”