The freedom to believe, practice and preach any religion is an unalienable fundamental right, imperative to the maintenance of social cohesion. In the USA this principle has been protected by both the secular and the religious through legal guarantees and religious edicts; but periods in which humanity has enjoyed this ostensible luxury are rare. And the revival of modern Islamic Jihadism, which arguably began in Afghanistan, has allowed an unscrupulous press to constantly frame the topic of religious tolerance (or lack thereof) solely in terms of Muslim influence. This press bias means that it is more necessary than ever that proponents of freedom of religious practice take a stand against prejudice.
Religious liberty has been a central tenet of modern western civilisation since the ratification of the first amendment of the United States Constitution, which states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
However, these legal provisions do not prevent religious intolerance from pervading society.
Since 9/11, Islamophobic individuals such as Pastor Terry Jones have espoused anti-Islamic rhetoric, and utilize national media platforms to spread their ideology. Events organised by Terry Jones such as the annual Qu’ran Burning congregation, have strengthened Jihadi recruitment programs, deepening the schism between Islam and the West.
America, the leader of the democratic free world, needs a greater appreciation for the pluralistic nature of society.