Character education is character information about the appropriate character behavior in every situation.
Religion and Religious Freedom
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
~U.S. Constitution, Amendment One
Religious freedom is the freedom “to be or not to be” religious, and to practice religion in a way that satisfies one’s own conscience. Some choose to be religious and others choose not to be. Both are valued in America. It was the desire for religious freedom that brought many of the first Europeans to this land. They came here to get away from religious persecution and governments that forced them to pledge loyalty to certain religious beliefs. Even though they didn’t want to be forced to be religious; they were religious. But it was religion of their own choosing, practiced the way they wanted to, rather than the way the government told them. Religion and the freedom to practice it as they pleased were so important to the first Americans that they made it a part of their constitutional rights. They specifically declared that the government shall not interfere with the wholesome practice of religion, nor shall it dictate to any person his choice of religion, or his way of acting out his faith. Throughout our culture there is evidence of the deep value we place on religion and religious freedom and diversity.
If you value religion and religious freedom your character can be judged by your devotion to your religious beliefs, and by how fairly you extend to others the religious freedom you demand for yourself.
Those who insist that others tolerate their religion must be similarly tolerant of the religion of others if they wish to have good character. America is now a land of many religions. In the last two decades we have seen an influx of different religious groups. Our character and commitment to religious freedom will be tested as we are challenged to afford to these new groups the freedoms that we demand for ourselves, assuming that their religion is genuine and their practices are compatible with our culture and security.
Our value for religious freedom does not require that we put ourselves in danger by allowing the proliferation (greatly increasing numbers) of religious groups that have expressed desires to do us harm. Our tolerance must be tempered (balanced) by our awareness of others’ intolerance for us.
We can strengthen our character by showing tolerance, understanding, and even appreciation for the religious beliefs and practices of others. However, our character is also tested by our loyalty to our beliefs as we come in contact with those who have different beliefs.
Rules to Live By
Religion and religious freedom
1. Be true to your religious teachings.
2. Support your religious institutions.
3. Properly represent your religious affiliations.
4. Respect others’ religions and religious practices.
5. Don’t make fun of others’ religious customs.
6. Never make fun of other people’s religious attire.
7. Don’t insist that friends accept your religious beliefs and practices.
8. Remain loyal to your beliefs when confronted by those who have different beliefs.
9. Respect the worship places of other religions.
10. Respect the special observances of other religions.
Character in Daily Life
Cathy’s mother was a leader in the church and insisted that Cathy go to church every Sunday. So, every Sunday, whether she wanted to or not, Cathy went to church. But Cathy, who was only sixteen, didn’t like being made to go to church, and told herself that as soon as she moved away from her parents, she would stop going. Cathy did eventually move away from home, and for a few weeks didn’t go to church. But after her brief absence, she returned and is now there every Sunday.
Should Cathy’s mother have made her go to church as a child?
What does Cathy’ actions as an adult tell you about religion and choice?
Cherished Values of the American People
Values + Commitment = Character