What Do You Believe?

Take a dollar bill out of your pocket and turn it over. What do you see? The words, “In God we trust.”

Now take out a coin and turn it over. What do you see? The words, “E pluribus unum.” That’s Latin for, “From many, one.”

While you think about that, think about the role of religion in American life and history. Surveys say most of us believe in one God. But our ancestors came to the United States from many different places with many different religions. And in many cases, those ancestors came here for religious freedom – the freedom to worship God (or Gods) the way they wanted, without fear.

In other parts of the world, disagreeing with the majority when it comes to religion might get you killed. But here in the United States, your freedom to believe – or not believe – is guaranteed by a document that’s sacred in its own right – the U.S. Constitution.

Not only that. The Constitution specifically says church and state should be separate. So the government cannot force you to follow any religion against your will.

As one of our nation’s founding fathers, James Madison, once said, “Religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.”

On Sunday, April 17, “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” will shed light on the truth about religion in America – and the misconceptions – in a special report called, “Freedom to Believe or Not?”

You’ll meet kids from all sorts of different religions – and kids who don’t believe in God at all.

There’s Dewey, who’s a Christian.

“I believe that our nation was founded under the idea that you can believe whatever you want to believe,” he says.

There’s Myranda, who’s also a Christian.

“I think this is a Christian nation because the word ‘God’ is in the Pledge of Allegiance,” she says.  “And it’s included in the Declaration of Independence – ‘endowed by our creator.'”

There’s Sam, who’s Jewish.

“When it says creator, it doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus,” he says.  “I’m a Jew.  And I believe in my God.  And I believe He created the world.”

There’s Amal, who’s a Muslim.

“I realized that there are more similarities between the religion of Judaism and the religion of Islam than differences,” he says.

And there’s Duncan, who’s an atheist.

“An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in a god or creator,” he says.

You’ll hear from lots of other kids with lots of other beliefs, too, on “Freedom to Believe or Not?” – the latest edition of “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.”

It premieres Sunday, April 17, at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Nickelodeon. (If you live in another time zone, check the local cable listings for the time the show will be on in your community.)

And while you’re watching, consider these words from another founding father, Thomas Jefferson:  “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion (or) philosophy as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”