"Upstate Needs to Come to Grips with Religious Diversity," a Commentary by David R. Gillespie

January 16, 2007

Author: David Gillespie

Source: The Greenville News


Recent happenings in the South Carolina Upstate have once again illustrated an issue with which the Palmetto State as a whole and its citizens have yet to seriously consider: growing religious diversity.

Anderson County Council recently reinstated the "Blue Laws" with the advent of a newly elected council. When asked why he voted to reinstate those archaic laws, Ron Wilson asked rhetorically how he could, after having been sworn in on a Bible (the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures), violate one of the commandments in that collection of documents.

Oconee County Council is facing off with the ACLU over sectarian prayers at Council meetings (an issue that has plagued a number of political subdivisions of the state); to wit, prayers offered to the Christian understanding of God and in the name of Jesus.

Religion can, and should, inform political discourse. Those who long for a totally secular society will need to wait a while. It's not going to happen any time soon. However, much care needs to be exercised in today's world to not give prominence to one particular religious tradition. They all must be recognized, affirmed and given their place in our communal life.