(WJBF) – In God we trust. It’s America’s motto. We are a country founded on faith.

In part three of her series, “United We Stand: Issues that divide us”, Mary Morrison takes a closer look at what our first amendment right guarantees and what can happen when religious diversity is not respected.

The middle east.

Israel and the terror group Hamas at war.

Mary Morrison said, “Its hell on earth with thousands dead and injured since the attack on Israel October 7. The US military is in the region to help defend our ally. At the center of this conflict: religion.”

Rev. Greg Porterfield, senior pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church said, “they call Jerusalem the spiritual home of all of humanity.

It is home to every major religion so each one feels terribly committed to that space”.

Hamas combines Palestianian Nationalism with Islamic Fundamentalism.

The group is committed to the destruction of Israel; and they are willing to fight and die for it.

In the US, our founding fathers incorporated freedom of religion into our constitution. It is guaranteed by the first amendment and has two  provisions.

It prohibits the government from establishing a religion and protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please.

In America, there are many religions: Christianity, Judaism ,Islam and Hinduism, just to name a few.

Yet there are those who would like to establish the state religion of Christianity which is prohibited by the constitution.

Dr. Craig Albert, political science professor at Augusta University said, “The main threat that we have to democracy right now is Christian Nationalism, blending the two which is saying if your not Christian and you are not a nationalist in the way Christian nationalist are, you are not really a Christian and you are not really an American and you can see what kind of divisiveness that is going to cause in the US.”

So how as voters should we view this issue of faith? Are candidates weaponizing religion for their own political gain and if so, how can we tell?

It starts with education.

“We are called to be civically educated.  We are called to respect and love everybody in the US regardless of our religious difference, our personal moral differences and how we identify ourselves,” Dr. Albert said

For those who identify as Christians, Jesus commands two things:

That we love God with all of our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Rev. Porterfield said, “If we do these two things, then the division that we imagine fold under the canopy of heaven and grace.”

To which many would say “Amen”.