Letter to the Editor: In Response to “Conflicted by Religious Differences”

In Yasmeen Waliaga’s opinions article on the April 11, she openly and honestly expresses her experience of early training and exposure to both the Christian and Islamic faiths. She eventually made her choice of which path to follow, yet with great sensitivity and understanding of both traditions.

She, understandably, expresses disrespect for those who condemn people of other faiths without having a clue about what they believe. Yes, there are wonderfully kind and loving people who are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or of many other faiths. It is also evident that human beings are capable of distorting the teachings of Christ, Muhammad or Buddha and using religion to fuel hatred and violence against others.

In the U.S., we are blessed to have the privilege to express our thoughts and beliefs openly and without condemnation. (First Amendment Right) For now, I can say what I think without fear of the thought police and I can defend your right to disagree with me. Unfortunately, in many Muslim nations citizens do not enjoy this right. Nations where Sharia is the law of the land are able to use “blasphemy laws” to arrest, prosecute and even execute those who speak against or reject Islam. It is also a fact that some radical Islamic extremists are using (or abusing) religion to perpetrate acts of terror against non-Muslims.

We Americans need to be very careful to protect our First Amendment Rights. As Ms. Waliaga stated, “I respect people who allow others to teach them. I respect the atheist who can exchange thoughts with me on the world and the purpose of life. I respect a Buddhist that can share beliefs with others and ask for commentary.” And I respect Ms. Waliaga for openly expressing her religious experience.

Let us fiercely hold on to our freedom of conscience, belief and expression.