What’s a good place to worship? The worship of a person’s god is an important personal function for all human beings. Its practice in a large variety of forms and content is well documented throughout human history. And in most times and places the practice of worship and the religious rituals that are associated with it tend to be associated with the culture of the practitioner. The culture may be local, tribal, national, racial, or in other ways a distinct style and manner of living together.
And throughout history there has been ongoing conflicts, discussions, and legislative action taken regarding the individual’s personal rights to worship free from any civic imposing forces or restricting controls. In some places and at some times individuals have had almost no freedom to make their own personal and private decisions regarding how they choose to worship, because the matter was directly control by the forces of the government.
And in other places and at other times individuals have been given a maximum amount of freedom to worship where and how they chose even though such activities might be different from that of others in the civic group. But no king or ruler or legislative body has been completely and permanently able to control how the citizens of its realm worship. This was true for the wise king Solomon of ancient Israel whose rule is described in the Bible, the various monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire whose rules are recorded in history, and the various national rulers of ancient and current collections of people throughout the world. The individual practice of worship has never been effectively and permanently controlled by any political power, pagan or religious.
In spite of the legislative provisions that have been put into place by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, the conflict and the discussions regarding where and how individuals can worship in the communities of this nation continue. And the conflicts and discussions are seen elsewhere throughout the world where individuals try to learn how to freely live and to worship with other individuals who are somewhat “different”. In some places in the world Christians are severely persecuted and even killed for the way in which they worship and practice their faith. And in some places in this country Christians and other citizens object to some Muslims who want to build a center for worship and other religious and community activities two blocks from “ground zero” in New York City. And the conflicts regarding this matter are particularly intense in Jerusalem where Jews and Muslims are engaged in daily violent struggles and discussions regarding who can worship on mount Moriah, and these struggles and discussions will eventually involve the whole world.
Religious freedom and the right of individuals to worship where and how they choose is a wise and necessary strategy for all people in this world. It appears to be a right that God established with creation, because he never forced any human being to worship him even though he had the authority and the power to do so. And it is good to recognize that governmental units should have the responsibility and the authority to control the erection of buildings on public and private land within their areas of jurisdiction, doing this through the issuing of building permits. So individuals and governmental units are faced with the challenge of trying to decide where and how citizens should freely worship their gods in our world of such diverse religious beliefs and secular cultures.
Within a position of toleration for religious differences, where should individuals be free to worship? How should free individuals practice the rituals of their beliefs? And how should the authority of the State and the rights of individuals be coordinated in this matter? These are very challenging and current matters for our consideration today. What’s a good place to worship? Let’s talk about this.