St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

Talk Prepared by Attorney Linda Chambers: Freedom To Worship in a Church - October 28, 2012


SINCE PENTECOST UP TO THE PRESENT DAY, GOVERNMENTS HAVE MADE LAWS THAT IMPACT THE ABILITY OF CHRISTIANS TO WORSHIP IN A CHURCH. PROHIBITIONS AGAINST CONSTRUCTION OF CHRISTIAN CHURCHES RANGE FROM A COMPLETE BAN ON ANY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, SUCH AS ON THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, TO BANS AGAINST CONSTRUCTING ANYTHING BUT A CATHOLIC CHURCH, SUCH AS IN VATICAN CITY. IN APRIL OF THIS YEAR, LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN AN INDIAN VILLAGE STOPPED THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND, IN AUGUST, PAKISTANI VILLAGERS WERE FORCED TO SEEK REFUGE IN A FOREST IN ORDER TO PRACTICE CHRISTIANITY AS A GROUP. ALTHOUGH KIM JONG IL RECENTLY CONSTRUCTED THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE LIFE GIVING HOLY TRINITY IN CHONBEK, DEFECTORS TO SOUTH KOREA STATE THAT NO CHRISTIAN SERVICES ARE HELD THERE OR IN ANY CHURCH IN NORTH KOREA THEREBY FORCING CHRISTIANS TO WORSHIP IN SECRET.

IN THE UNITED STATES, WE HAVE NO STATE SANCTIONED RELIGION AND REQUIRE A SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE. ALTHOUGH THIS MAY BE UPSETTING TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE RELIGION SHOULD BE A PART OF OUR GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOLS, OUR FREEDOM OF RELIGION MAKES THAT DIFFICULT DUE TO THE DIVERSITY OF RELIGION. HOWEVER, THIS COUNTY ALLOWS COMPLETE FREEDOM TO PRACTICE ANY RELIGION AND DESIGNATES CHURCHES AS NON-TAXABLE ENTITIES. THE THRESHOLD FOR RECOGNITION OF THAT TAX STATUS IS SO LOW THAT SOME QUESTIONABLE CHURCHES ARE GRANTED THE SAME STATUS AS ORTHODOX CHURCHES. A PRIME EXAMPLE IS THE GROUP KNOWN AS SCIENTOLOGISTS. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS FOUND IT PREFERABLE TO ENCOURAGE RELIGIOUS WORSHIP RATHER THAN DRAW CONCLUSIONS ON THE NATURE OF THE RELIGIOUS BELIEF.

OUR GOVERNMENTíS RECOGNITION OF THE RIGHT OF MUSLIMS TO BUILD A WORSHIP CENTER NEAR GROUND ZERO IN NEW YORK CITY BROUGHT CRITICISM FROM MANY CHRISTIANS. I SUGGEST TO YOU THAT THE OPENING OF AN ISLAMIC CENTER SO CLOSE TO THE SITE OF AN ISLAMIC ATTACK ON OUR NATION SHOWS OUR STRENGTH, OUR FAITH AND OUR RESOLVE TO FOLLOW OUR VALUES DESPITE THE EVIL BROUGHT TO OUR SHORES. BY ALLOWING MUSLIMS TO BUILD THEIR MOSQUE, WE SHOW THE TERRORISTS AND RADICAL MUSLIMS THAT WE ARE TRULY A CHRISTIAN NATION THAT ENCOURAGES PEOPLE OF ALL FAITH TO CELEBRATE THEIR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS, EVEN A RELIGION THAT BROUGHT DEATH TO OUR CITIZENS. WE ARE TRUE EXAMPLES OF FREEDOM TO GATHER IN BUILDINGS DESIGNATED SPECIFICALLY TO THE PRACTICE OF OUR RELIGION.

WE ARE CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN A WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, DESPITE THAT COUNTRYíS PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANITY. YES, IN 2004, THAT COUNTRY PASSED A CONSTITUTION THAT PURPORTS TO ALLOW FOR RELIGIONS OTHER THAN ISLAM. IN PRACTICE, THAT HAS NOT OCCURRED. IN FACT, THE TALIBAN FACTION OF ISLAM HAS NOT ONLY PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS, IT HAS PERSECUTED OTHER MUSLIMS WHOSE SECTS HAVE NOT PASSED MUSTER WITH THE TALIBANíS STRICT INTERPRETATIONS OF THE KORAN. WITH THE RECENT TARGETING OF OUR SOLDIERS BY THE AFGHANIS WHO THE SOLDIERS WORKED TO TRAIN AND PROTECT, IT WOULD BE EASY TO JUSTIFY A COMPLETE WITHDRAWAL OF OUR TROOPS FROM THAT AREA AND, I MUST CONFESS, I WANT OUR TROOPS TO BE BROUGHT HOME. REGARDLESS OF MY.PERSONAL WISH THAT OUR SOLDIERS BE BROUGHT HOME TO THEIR FAMILIES, I AM PROUD THAT WE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM FOR ALL PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR RELIGION AND REGARDLESS OF THEIR LACK OF RESPECT FOR OUR RELIGIOUS HERITAGE.

VETERANíS DAY IS ONE WEEK AWAY. ALL VETERANS AND ALL ACTIVE MILITARY DESERVE OUR RESPECT, OUR ADMIRATION AND OUR GRATITUDE FOR THE SACRIFICES THEY MAKE SO WE ARE FREE. BECAUSE OF THEM, WE ARE FREE TO WORSHIP TOGETHER IN OUR CHURCH. BECAUSE OF THEM, WE DO NOT HAVE TO HIDE IN BASEMENTS OR FORESTS TO PRAY. BECAUSE OF THEM, WE ARE FREE TO BE HERE, AT ST. GEORGE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, CELEBRATING OUR ANNIVERSARY, PUBLICALLY AND WITH PRIDE. GOD BLESS AMERICA.


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