Today is no cause to celebrate independence

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 4, 2023

No one should be forced to surrender what they believe simply because I believe they are wrong! That was the premise of this nation. So how have we arrived, yet again, in a time and place where so many decided their religious freedom is the only one that the rest of us must live by?

“But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god.” Thomas Jefferson

That is what Thomas Jefferson thought about the freedom of religion. Most of what was behind the 1st Amendment against establishing religion had a history lesson behind it. What happened when one group of “believers” was able to use what they believed to control those that believed differently was uncontrollable, they wanted to prevent it from happening again. That history lesson came from the Salem Witch Trials.
By the time the people of Salem came to their senses and issued a decree for a day of atonement on January 14, 1697,  200 had been arrested, tortured, and had everything taken from them. 19 of the accused were hung and one was crushed to death. Some died in jail before their trial. Some were exonerated and some simply escaped.
None of the accusers had to suffer anything other than accountability to God and the wrath of their neighbors.

“But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If it be said, his testimony in a court of justice cannot be relied on, reject it then, and be the stigma on him. Constraint may make him worse by making him a hypocrite, but it will never make him a truer man. It may fix him obstinately in his errors, but will not cure them. Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” ― Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (GoodReads)

What your neighbor believes or does not believe is none of your business. That is what has made this country great. No one religious group was to have the power to rule over others ever again. 

In January 1693, the newly created Superior Court of Judicature began hearing the remaining witch trials. The judges could not accept spectral evidence and most of the remaining trials ended in acquittal. Phips pardoned the rest.

Enduring Lessons
In 1957, Massachusetts formally apologized for the events of 1692: “The General Court of Massachusetts declares its belief that such proceedings, even if lawful under the Province Charter and the law of Massachusetts as it then was, were and are shocking, and the result of a wave of popular hysterical fear of the Devil in the community…” The Massachusetts state legislature was still exonerating accused witches as recently as the early 2000s.

Today, the Salem Witch Trials continue to capture popular imagination. Less than 20 miles from Boston, Salem has turned its dark history into a thriving tourism industry, with witchcraft-themed shops, eateries, tours, and several museums.

The town commemorates the tragedy of that era with the Salem Witch Trial Memorial and has preserved many buildings and other historic sites associated with the trials, so future generations—and jurists—can learn how mass hysteria can lead to mass injustice. (New England Law)

What we are seeing today is people with the same attitude decided they should have the right to control everyone else because they claim to be “defending their rights” while at the same time, they seek to remove the rights of all others to enjoy the same freedom.

They seek to kill the religious freedom of all the people to believe as they see fit or choose to not believe at all. If we do nothing, we should never again celebrate July 4th with fireworks, parades, and festivities but should visit the graves of all those who paid the price for the freedoms we let die. Not just those that served in the military but those who died because they were persecuted because of what some believed. Civil rights leaders were murdered for standing up for freedom.

The freedom to choose if you worship and how you worship. 

The freedom to vote according to your choice instead of where you live because of some bizarre boundary line designed to control who you can vote for. 

The freedom to love, who you love and marry or don’t marry. The right to live according to who you are inside instead of being judged as going against what “God created.” It must have escaped their thoughts that God is spirit and not flesh and bones, meaning He created the souls and not bodies. It also must have escaped their thoughts that some people do not believe in God at all.

The freedom to choose to become parents and raise your children according to what you believe in. The freedom to choose to not become parents. The freedom to be able to get the reproductive healthcare that you need without having a politician decide if and when you get it because they don’t want to protect your right to receive it.

The freedom to learn from history and not be controlled by those feeling uncomfortable with what actually happened. The freedom to read what books you want and the freedom to write what books you want, expressing your thoughts because you are free to do so.

The freedom to know you can go out in public, attend worship services, go shopping, see a movie or even drive your car without fear you are subjecting yourself to being shot. Freedom to send your children to school without fearing you may not see your child at the end of the day alive because someone was able to obtain a weapon designed to kill as many as possible as fast as possible.

When we allow one freedom to be taken from the majority by the minority, more will fall and we will fail to be the land of the free. 


#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

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