In the past decade, religious discrimination cases have markedly increased. For years, it seemed like religious discrimination was a thing of the past, until September 11. There are extremist in all three major religions. The conflicts between England and Ireland of the last decade stemmed from fights between Catholics and Protestants, although this is an obvious simplification of the issues. Itzhaak Rabin was killed by an extremist Jew who was opposed yo peace between Jews and Palestinians. In fact, Gandhi was a Hindu, and was killed by a Hindu nationalist because the killer did not want accord with Muslims. And now in the world there are militant Muslims in Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Al Shabaab who represent a tiny minority of Muslims.
These terrorists don't like us, and we don't like them. It bears repeating that radicals are not representative of any mainstream religion and Islam is most certainly a mainstream religion. Yet, there is a considerable amount of fear and misunderstanding of Islam in this country, reflected at times by discrimination in the workplace.
My brother, who is not Muslim, but who did have black curly hair in college, was taunted during the Iran hostage crisis with, "Go home, you camel jockey!" Now discriminatory epithets oftentimes more hateful are sometimes hurled at women in hijab or Muslim males. Sometimes, Muslims are ridiculed for dressing conservatively or for praying during the day. This violates federal and state laws.
Someday, I hope, we in this country and the world will see all of the world's citizens as part of one group, humans. While we can maintain our own beliefs, I dream of a time that other points of view are respected. The first amendment freedom of religion comes from the reaction to religious persecution in Europe and our forefathers' recognition that we are each entitled to believe in whatever we want. The first amendment comes before the second and is at least as important as the right to bear arms. When we forget the foundations upon which this country was built, we do a disservice not only to our citizens, but to the people of the world.
I hear politicians say this is a Christian nation. It is not. While there are people of the Christian faith who are the majority of religious people, this nation was built as a haven for religious freedom. That is one of the precepts that truly makes America great. Let's not cause the forefathers to roll over in their graves (especially if you believe that can happen. Treat all those of all or no religions with respect. Peace be with you and yours.