Religious Freedom Day Means Equality, Respect for All Faiths
The majority of Coloradoans are Christian — 64%, with more than half either Evangelical or mainline Protestant, or Catholic. That’s followed by the unaffiliated (the “nones”) at 29%. The rest are Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim (at about 1% each).
Whether one is a practitioner or not, it’s a good time to consider National Religious Freedom Day. It was created to commemorate the signing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. Thomas Jefferson penned the statute, and it became the basis for the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
That means the majority and the minority get equal respect and equal rights to practice their faith — or to not practice any faith at all. The law permits them to follow their path without fear of abuse or punishment.
It’s particularly important to remain open and tolerant because so many people still are victims of intolerance. Around the world more restrictions are being put in place, some faiths are given preferential treatment, or there are more incidences of escalating hostilities.
How Faith Can Help
Religion or spirituality may not be for all, but for those who are drawn to faith, it can be good for mental health. Studies have found it can help with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Physical and mental health can benefit from meditation and/or prayer, helping others, as well as a sense of togetherness and community. On the flip side, religious discrimination can be quite harmful to the mental health of anyone on the receiving end.
The same path is not for everyone, but it should be up to the individual. If belief in a higher power helps a person through life’s highs and lows, including addiction — excellent. If not, that’s fine, too.
pewforum.org – Religious Landscape Study: Adults in Colorado
nationaldaycalendar.com – National Religious Freedom Day
pewforum.org – A Closer Look at How Religious Restrictions Have Risen Around the World
mentalhealth.org.uk – The Impact of Spirituality on Mental Health
nami.org – Faith and Spirituality
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Perceived Religious Discrimination and Mental Health
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – National Religious Freedom Day