BY SHARON MARTIN
Example: I wasn’t allowed to dance, go to ballgames, or see movies. Gee and golly were curse words, so there were certain Christmas songs I wasn’t allowed to sing, but Santa Claus wasn’t considered a threat. Halloween was allowed.
I had a basketball court in my backyard, but I couldn’t play for the school team because of the shorts the players wore. Members of Dad’s church could play, however. The family dress code was rigid and illogical. I ran track in a dress.
At least, I was allowed to cut my curly and unruly hair. I had cousins who could not.
If we were ill, prayer was part of the healing process, as were doctors and medicine.
Fundamentalism can make one strong. I’m not afraid to stand up and stand out. For too many, though, fundamentalist beliefs are dangerous to health and freedom.
Children whose parents don’t believe in doctors and medicines sometimes die.
Women are denied an education or even the idea that an education is possible.
Having too many children or having them at too young or too old an age doesn’t kill men, but it can certainly ravage a woman’s health. Birth control and choice should be a woman’s right.
Fear of immunizations robs children of their futures. The resulting epidemics destroy lives and economies.
Hate and the belief that those who believe differently are less worthy of life and liberty not only kill young men but they destroy families. Men, women and children, the young and the old, often die as collateral damage. Countries and their economies fail.
Too often, religion is like politics: it isn’t the people who matter but the power it wields.
Freedom of religion in this country is granted. So is freedom from religion. Unfortunately, there are plenty who would deny us our freedoms in the name of their personal beliefs.
Hate is not a Christian value. It isn’t an American value. Neither is intolerance, racism, or homophobia. You can make hateful statements in this country thanks to our freedom of speech. You do not have the right, however, to make the rest of us conform to your beliefs.
This is America, and our magnificent Constitution, a fluid and changing document, is designed to protect us all. That includes fundamentalists of every religion, regardless of how arbitrary and illogical their beliefs.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer