Religious freedom

You want religious freedom,

and I agree,

to a point,

to the point of harm,

to the point of using it

to push a view that pushes down

others’ rights, others’

freedoms to live a life full,

a life as they choose,

a life that does no harm

that I can see.


This is our contract, you see, for 

freedom to speak is weighed heavy 

in the scales of democracy and 

justice—weighed with the rights of all,

weighed with the responsibility

to protect those rights from

anyone who seeks to cut them down

with the knife of religion,

or the weapon of any view.


Take heed, then, and measure well your

freedom against the common good;

look carefully at what you say,

and see your zealous wish to express belief

against the need for all to be protected, 

feel safe and make the choices

that come with these precious freedoms

we all hold close in this secular state,

and dare not reduce in any way.


You want religious freedom,

and to have your views of heaven and 

earth and hell thrown into public view?


Have them, sure, but not as weapons against 

those who share not your god, your book

or your judgements about what is to come.


Have them, but sit in concern and care, 

in dialogue and respect in this plural place;

sit where all the voices can be heard,

even those within your diverse ranks that don’t 

share all your views at all.


You want religious freedom and to say

whatever god has put in you head;

well now, all religions and holy books speak of

the innocent ones that believers are called to protect,

but your words may not do that at all.


So, test them well in the crucible of love.