One of the main reasons Europeans came to North America was the right to worship the way they thought appropriate, when they thought appropriate. In addition, the government could not directly settle any disagreements on how individuals worshiped. This context provided us with the “freedom” to worship in the United States any way we thought we ought to without interference from our government.
Other countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia to name a couple, have their “normal” governmental responsibilities such as money, taxes, water, transportation and so on, interpreted through the expectations of a dominant religion. That presents the citizens of those countries with major problems. What if they don’t believe in the majority or dominant religion. All the limitations applied to the believers is also forced on the non-believers, because the government and religion are one and the same.
For example, “’Critique and criticism of the government’s policies are not bad, but when someone attempts to undermine the foundations of the government, it is treason and not freedom of expression" (Ayattolah Ali Khamenei, 1998)”
“These words, uttered by the supreme spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1998, very well explain the standpoint of the leaders, the so called gray eminencies, of the theocratic republic of Iran. Due to their religious principles they reject any outer influences which might restrict the power of the clerical institutions and might introduce unwanted democratic characteristics to the present regime.”
One of the problems with religions is that many of them claim to “have the truth” about life, which they have possessed since their religion was established. Most religions disagree in significant areas. Since there are no easy or quick ways to “update” those religions, they tend to be most satisfactory for the general population when they are started and as time goes by become less and less satisfactory when change may be called for by new circumstances.
In the United States we’re seeing an increase in religious pressures. The rest of the world has seen it as well. We are speaking less as a government and more like a religion each year. That works well if others are in agreement with the announced religious posture. That increases division if there is disagreement on the religious posture assumed.
In my opinion, we should ask our government to do well those things that governments can do for all of us. Be more careful when getting into areas where the government has to choose between religions in order to serve all of us. If unity is a good thing, and I believe that it is, then we should nurture an environment in which un-coerced unity can survive.