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May 19, 2013
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Religion and the atheist

Much is being said about the separation of church and state. It escalated with the celebration of Christmas being eliminated from government facilities, then any public venue. Stores had to eliminate any reference to Christianity and replace their greetings with “Happy holidays” — all under the guise of separation of church and state.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The most recent casualty of this political correctness is our military.

Religion is a strongly held belief that inspires and guides a person’s actions. In Western culture, the majority participates in various denominations of Christianity and Judaism. In Eastern cultures, you will find that many are Buddhist. The Middle East has a predominance of Muslims. However, there are hundreds of variations of these and other unique religious practices that take into account historical events and traditions, prophets, cultural differences and expectations, sense of purpose, and social responsibility to one another. Even New Age followers have faith in an energy that connects us all.

We are all born with this innate need to be connected to something greater than ourselves, to achieve success with purpose, to expand our compassion and to establish a sense of order in the world — and in this country in particular, to turn over to the next generation a world that is infinitely better than we found it.

It is interesting that nearly every religious tenet and secular law across the globe incorporates some form of the 10 Commandments, as they are universal in scope.

Religion provides that faith necessary to accomplish the “impossible,” particularly when all else has failed. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie and even “You shall have no other gods before me” means don’t go getting too big for your britches … you are easily replaced. Don’t be praying to false idols — that Maserati is just a bunch of metal (albeit gorgeous metal) that can break down tomorrow. And if you go coveting your neighbor’s spouse, well, you do so at your own risk. It’s universal and common sense.

But it is the connection to self and others that develops the bonds and allows people to create miracles in their own lives. We hear about it every day. The person who picks up a car to save a neighbor; the cancer that mysteriously disappears; the athlete under dire circumstances reaches the finish line and breaks all records, etc.

Human beings are miraculous creatures, particularly when focused and committed. Religion helps to provide that focus, motivation and connection.

Those who consider themselves unaffiliated with any religion, and even hostile to religious practice, often fail to realize that their resistance to religion is a religion in itself. Their “religion” is science and globalization — science being their guru, and globalization their connection to others and sense of purpose, identity and destiny.

When an atheist denies others the opportunity to practice and celebrate their faith in public, they are imposing their own religious beliefs upon those people, thus denying them their freedom of speech and assembly.

Science is fact-based, and most religious people accept it as such, but it is limited by our technology. There are many more things that have yet to be explained, but that doesn’t mean that those things don’t exist.

Many of our most treasured scientific minds believed in something other than what they could see or prove. In fact, that realization is what keeps science going. It is the stimulus for discovery — discovery of the unknown. The belief being that for them not to do so would appear arrogant, to actually think that we know it all. Even the hotly debated issue of evolution verses intelligent design has that initial unexplained particle of matter that began it all. Where did it come from? Therein lies the connection and bond between science and religion. They are partners, not adversaries.

When people connect on a global level, when their focus is on a single idea (prayer-meditation), when their rhythm is in unison (hymns, chants, affirmations), there develops a synergy of positive direction that inspires human beings to aspire to more than they logically believe is possible.

Even on a secular level, when you unite with others of common cause, you accomplish so much more than what you could ever do alone. All faith is religion regardless of who you define your God to be — a deity, Mother Nature or MIT.

Faith, whether religious or secular, establishes a global moral compass that improves the quality of life for everyone. We must be tolerant of those whose practice of belief differs from ours as long as it does not impose harm upon others.

When you prohibit people from exhibiting their unified commitment to good and noble causes, then you limit the hope of mankind to expand beyond the self and into selfless.

Jacqueline Cartier is the president and CEO of Winning Images. Reach her by email at winningimages.cartier@gmail.com or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at www.cartierwinningimages.com.


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The VailDaily Updated May 25, 2013 12:49PM Published May 19, 2013 01:24PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.