Cate's Winning Essay
The Importance of Religious Freedom
Once upon a time, long ago, my great-great grandfather immigrated to America. Although I do not know the exact reasons for his immigration, I know that he was among the thousands of people immigrating to the “Land of Promise,” a place of opportunity and freedom also known as America. I cannot imagine what life would have been like if he had stayed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire rather than moving here. Yet at the same time, I cannot imagine what it was like for people like him to abandon everything they knew and start fresh in a foreign land all for the hopes that their life would improve.
What types of things in their lives would they want to improve? Was life in their country really not desirable? When I think of my ancestor, I can only dream of what life was like for him and others before coming to America. Was religious freedom suppressive enough to cause people to leave behind their homeland?
The freedom to express religion is what caused the first Pilgrims to come to America, and the principles of this country were built on that freedom. Believe it or not, America would not have been the same America it is today if religious people had not helped build it from the ground up.
However, one might ask in this modern day if some beliefs are outdated or ancient and should be molded into something different. After all, things change, right? With new technology and ways of living, our beliefs conflict with the world’s loud opinion, and maybe it is time for antiquated things to get updated.
Whoever thinks this would be dead wrong when it comes to religion. Things like faith and values are not important to some people anymore, but politics should not interfere with our right to practice our religion. If we look back in history, we can see just how well that worked. For example, Adolf Hitler thought that his beliefs should be forced upon the world. Persecution amongst Jews, Catholics, and Protestants resulted in what was known as the Holocaust. I imagine that oppression
like this was part of the reason that so many people have come to America through the years.
I am thankful that I will not be shot to death because my neighbors found out I was Christian. I am thankful that I will not be fed to lions because a pagan Emperor wants me to believe in other gods. I am also thankful that I do not have to go to secret underground catacombs to attend a Mass.
Religious freedom is taken for granted nowadays. Besides, it’s not as if something as extreme as being fed to lions would ever happen in the present day, at least in America, right? Yet there are still attacks on our Constitution-granted freedom that lawmakers need to protect, and as Catholics, we should stand up for our rights.
The main example I am referring to is Obama’s Health and Human Service’s mandate. This mandate requires health insurance companies to provide inclusion of all prescription contraceptives, surgical sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs in their policies. One of our beliefs as Catholics is that abortion, whether it be first trimester abortion or abortifacient contraceptives, is wrong. It is killing an unborn child. Forcing private companies to provide these is a direct violation of the First
Amendment, and we need to stand up against this horrific law.
In our country, religious freedom is one of the best rights a person could ever have. Knowing that other countries force one belief on their people or suppress any religion at all only helps me realize how lucky I really am to live in a place where I can express whatever faith I want. Knowing that that one law is enough to make a person leave their country to live in America astounds me. Not many people know it, but this is definitely one of the best reasons you can be proud to be an