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People must respect others’ faiths beyond the mainstream religions

The word “pagan” is usually misused. Webster’s Dictionary defines a pagan as someone who is not Christian, Jewish or Muslim. So anyone who believes in Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Roman or Greek gods or any other of the hundreds of other religions in this world is in fact a pagan.

A pagan is frequently and incorrectly used to describe someone of a religion other then the person who is using the word. It is also frequently and again incorrectly understood to mean something evil or no belief in God at all.

Now it is being used incorrectly for political purposes. If you call someone a pagan with the intention of meaning he or she is a bad person, you are only showing your ignorance and practicing religious persecution.

Unfortunately, few people know Flushing is the birthplace of religious freedom. The first settlers who came to America, it is said, came for religious freedom. But that is a half-truth: They came to escape religious persecution, but when they landed here they themselves persecuted others of different faiths.

Religious freedom was not practiced until John Bowne — as in Bowne Park, Bowne Street and Bowne House — in Flushing allowed Quakers to use his Dutch church for their religious meetings. For his act of kindness and open-mindedness he was put in chains and sent to the Netherlands for trial and punishment. But he was found innocent of blasphemy and returned home to Flushing.

We in Flushing should be proud of our important contribution to the world and respect the rights of others to practice their religions as long as they do not harm any person or living thing.

John Procida


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