The American constitution gives citizens and non-citizens civil rights which essentially mean that all people should enjoy not only freedom but also right to exercise their will when participating in both processes of politics as well as social life. There are several study areas in the book We the People. Among the study areas evident include; sociology, health, and economy. The political analysts and authors Bortner & Juan Williams (2012) in their book discuss a number of modern-day political issues which include: immigrations, foreign policies, electoral as well as social issues.
There is a wide area of social issues and one expects that America being an old democracy should be an example to be emulated by all and sundry. In the fourth chapter of the book, the authors outline the various amendments made to the bill of rights over time and all these amendments are basically meant to ensure that freedom is granted to the citizen amidst all the changing environment socially. The expression of freedom of religion is particularly glaring and as stated there in the separation of state and church is interpreted in different ways and one wonders how far the separation should be since the two institutions should actually have a mutual relation if the country is to make any progress in achieving its development goals (Bodenhamer & Ely, 2008).
The government of America as many other governments is at liberty to support churches but the supreme court test from Lemon Vs. Kurtzmann determined that government aid to religious schools be accepted as constitutional if it had a secular purpose, has no effect in advancing or inhibiting religion and does not entangle the government and religion in their separate affairs. This scenario is; however, delicate because the letter of the constitution does not give the church the same restriction as clearly stated for the government. The church and by extension, other religious entities have moved into government schools and other institutions to advance their doctrines and teachings as they offer scholarships or other forms of aid to the vulnerable students or population who are left with no choice but to follow the dictates of those giving them aid (Bodenhamer & Ely, 2008).
The free exercise clause in the constitution essentially grants one protection on their right to believe and to practice whatever religion they choose as well as giving protection to the right of non-believers. The greatest challenge the government of the day has to contend with is to distinguish between the acceptable beliefs that are protected by the constitution and the actions based on that belief (Williams, 2011). In most cases, the government has been seen to overstep its mandate and infringed on citizen rights of exercising this freedom when actually the government was simply trying to ensure the freedom of one group does not undermine the freedom and peace enjoyed by another group.
The constant conflict between the government of America as well as other governments across the globe with the Islamic believers is a case in point. Recently the American president Donald Trump imposed a ban on refugees entering the United States from predominantly Islamic states. This action did not go down well with a section of the population viewing it as an act of religious discrimination. The intention of the US president may be well but the fact that the actions seem to go against the principal of the constitution makes it likely to bring a conflict between the state and the group of the faithful.
The church has also not been spared in the conflict war since there are issues that various governments including the U.S. have been advocating for that appear to go contrary to the Christian beliefs. The most recent example is the government advocacy for the rights of the gay. Though the constitution is clear on the issue, the society seems to still be grappling with the issue and it seems to go completely against the grain for the church. The Supreme Court of the U.S. ruling of JUNE 26, 2015 demonstrated that the rights of a particular group when granted can lead to a celebration in one camp of the citizen while bringing condemnation and dissent from another.
The exercise of religious liberty has often been taken for granted by the majority of people but this concession by a United States citizen in Dee versus Benson case seems to illustrate that though there might still be challenges in the United States, remarkable progress has been made in ensuring the liberty is evidently true. He said, It was one of those rare times in life when theory met reality head on, the theory being that I had the ability to practice my religion any way I wanted, and the reality being this rather quaint Saudi Arabian notion that there is one religion and it is Islam. It was not that other religions were not tolerated, it was that there were no other religions. There are states in this century that are yet to experience what religious liberty can bring to the life of their citizen. It is however not sufficient to be at a comfort zone simply because a state seems to be doing better than the rest (Williams, 2013).
Solution to the Political Issue
To resolve these issues it is only prudent that we agree that there can actually not be absolute religious liberty. This will then force both state and religious institutions to strive and get to a compromise position with each party agreeing on what should actually be acceptable acts of religious beliefs. As a society, each generation has what it can accommodate in terms of norms. This is why a century ago issues of same-sex marriages could not have been a problem yet today it is a contentious issue. Similarly, the issue of radicalization among the Muslims can be addressed if the principal of Islamic religion were taught and made public to all to understand so that anybody professing that faith is not perceived as a threat to peace (Karst, 2007). Governments should also make an attempt through funding of campaigns to enlighten Muslims in predominantly Islamic states on the need for harmonious living and need to accommodate people of differing religious beliefs instead of only giving funds to fight terrorism when the communities are already radicalized.
Bodenhamer, D. J., & Ely, J. W. (2008). The Bill of Rights in Modern America. Indiana University Press.Bortner, M. A., & Williams, L. (2012). Youth in prison: We the people of unit four. Routledge.Karst, K. L. (2007). The Liberties of Equal Citizens: Groups and the Due Process Clause. UCLA L. Rev., 55, 99.
Williams, J. (2011). Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. Three Rivers Press.Williams, J. (2013). Eyes on the prize: America's civil rights years, 1954-1965. Penguin.
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