A couple of years ago, I wrote about the Separation of Church and State.
Some people find it surprising that I prefer to keep the mention of religion out of the classroom (as well as formal prayer). But I feel that way because I don't want to have other religions crammed down my throat and I would heartily resent it if someone tried to do that to my child. If you don't want to hear about Christianity, that's fine by me as long as I don't have to hear about Christian Science or the Jehovah's Witnesses.
However, as a country, we're not honoring this. Although Christianity has been gagged, bound, threatened and stifled in many places, we are increasingly seeing cities that allow a raucous Muslim call-to-prayer (known as 'adhan') to be broadcast over loudspeakers from their mosque five times a day. The cities that are being subjected to this include Hamtramck, Michigan; the ancient English city of Oxford; St. Louis, Missouri; Harvard University, Massachusetts; and more. I doubt we'll see this list narrow, either.
If we are to allow adhan to be broadcast in public, then it's time to rescind the laws restricting shows of Christian faith, as well. Let's have a glorious religious free-for-all under the label of "being open-minded" and give everyone a fair and equal chance at this.
No? Do you think we're letting the genie out of the box and it's time to stuff it back in once more?
Believe it or not, the Pilgrims would have agreed with you. But only to a certain extent.
The Pilgrims didn't believe in pure freedom of religion, or the Salem witch trials would never have occurred. They were peculiar people, for the most part, and religious zealots of even their own time. However, they did not forcibly convert the Native Americans. Instead, they attempted to proselytize them and, as we know, shared the First Thanksgiving dinner with them.
The Pilgrims were very black and white in their beliefs. They were literalists when it came to Biblical interpretation. This meant that (in contrast to the Salem witch trials) at times they were also highly charitable, such as when they appropriated abandoned Native American food but paid the Native Americans for it when they finally met them six months later. They also wanted to be allowed to practice what they believed, without interference from the government.
That's why they left England.
So, I believe the Pilgrims would have compromised with other faiths as long as those other faiths left them alone to do as they pleased. What they would not have wanted, however, is any encroachment into the way that they practiced their beliefs. And therefore, the Pilgrims would not have wanted to be located within the sound of adhan.
I find it gloriously strange that we still celebrate Thanksgiving in this country. It was the first holiday ever celebrated here, and it's entirely an American-made holiday. And yet, it is a holiday formed for a very specific purpose: To thank the Biblical God for everything he has given us and done for us. And, to pretend differently is to alter history.
So, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, ask yourself why we are still allowed time off to celebrate a holiday that is steeped in religious meaning. And then be thankful that we modern Americans haven't messed it up.