By Laura Patsouris

What is freedom? During these days of contemplation and prayer, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of freedom. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in our society. The folks who started DC-40 use it in the context of being free to fully express their religious beliefs. I would posit that freedom in that context is anything but…as it is predicated on eradicating the religious pluralism upon which our society was supposed to have been founded. Now, in practice, that religious pluralism has often fallen short. Where was the respect for the religious freedom of Native peoples to practice their ancestral faiths when their children were forcibly sent to missionary boarding schools in an attempt to force assimilation?

There can be no free society without full inclusion and the right of all its citizens to freely practice their faiths. That seems like a no-brainer, but it is a hard concept for the missionary mindset to accept. For them freedom means being free to eradicate all opposing paradigms from politics and the public arena. In their world religious pluralism and a “free market” of religious ideas is anathema. I say it is time for them to suck it up, put on their big-kid panties and deal with the fact that freedom isn’t a privilege reserved only for white Christian male property owners. It is an inherent right endowed to all of us of all colors, all faiths, all branches of the human family and all genders.

If nature has a lesson, that lesson is diversity. Life will find a way to be colorful, messy and evolve in new and surprising ways. The spirit is a force that cannot be confined to one box, one paradigm and no “one size fits all”. My freedom to practice my indigenous ways is inherent and inborn and no person has the right to remove my spiritual choices because they may offend. I was not put on the Earth to make the DC-40ers comfortable. Separation of Church and State is a good thing: it protects ALL of us. So as these spiritual fascists pray to take away every choice they disagree with and plot to take away our rights as free human beings, I will pray that every person living on Turtle Island will remain free with a full range of choices.

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