McDonald’s recently posted a video on YouTube of a young man who wakes up in the morning, eats breakfast and then begins his job as a delivery boy for McDonald’s. While delivering food, the young man abstains from eating, even when offered food, in order to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
May 15 marked the beginning of Ramadan, a month dedicated to prayer and daily fasting from dawn to dusk. Ramadan faced criticism from Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s immigration minister.
Stojberg said in a newspaper column that religion is a “private matter,” and that the Muslims fasting for Ramadan are “a danger” to all of the people of Denmark.
“There’s no information or statistics to show that bus drivers or other Muslim workers would somehow behave dangerously while fasting,” said Pia Jardi, Finnish Muslim Union chairwoman to AP News. “In most Muslim countries, stores and businesses continue operating as normally.”
Members from different churches in Madison County said this story was an example of how religious people can face discrimination.
“What happened in Denmark is an example of why religious freedom is so important in the U.S.,” said Miguel Maldonado, a devout member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Rexburg. “Religion is who we are, whether we are Catholic, Muslim, Mormon or anything else. Our religion should be our pride and not our shame, and should not be discriminated against.”
Maldonado went on to say that even though the majority of active church-goers in Rexburg are from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholics try their best to defend religious freedom locally.
“In order to defend a right, we must understand our teammates,” Maldonado said. “It is important to understand the basis of other religions so that we can unify to promote one cause: religious freedom. While we do have our differences with the LDS Church, we respect them and hope they do the same for us as well.”
Russell Martin, a pastor for the Harvestview Baptist Church in Rexburg, said that voting and standing up for your right to worship is also essential to keeping religious freedom strong.
“Social media is a huge part of religious freedom and having the right to openly express our faith shows others just how important religion is,” Martin said. “We had a booth at the free Carousel Summer Kickoff in Rexburg to teach people what we believe in and the principle of salvation.”
Martin said that to defend religious freedom, people must use religious freedom to openly express their beliefs when appropriate.
The Church of Jesus Christ has made web pages and published multiple talks by leaders on the importance of religious freedom and how that right is diminishing.
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people,” according to Mormon Newsroom. “It allows us to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe. But around the world, and in the United States, this freedom is eroding. Churches, religious organizations and individuals face increasing restrictions as they participate in the public square, express their beliefs or serve in society.”
President Trump also highlighted how religious freedom applies to every denomination in the U.S. during his presidential message about Ramadan.
“Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life,” Trump said. “In the United States, we are all blessed to live under a Constitution that fosters religious liberty and respects religious practice. Our Constitution ensures Muslims can observe Ramadan in accordance with the dictates of conscience and unimpeded by government.”