American christianists would do well to understand that were they successful in their aim to remake the United States as a christian theocracy our future would be similar to this.
Wasn’t the United States founded on religious freedom?
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson and enacted into law by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786, reads in part:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
Unfortunately the understanding of “religious freedom” has been warped beyond recognition. Instead of a protection against imposition of religion, it is now a protection of imposition of religion.
The previous president declared January 16th “Religious Freedom Day”:
Each year, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” The day is the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
The goal of ReligiousFreedomDay.com is to promote and protect students’ religious expression rights by informing educators, parents, and students about these liberties.
Just to be clear, according to the boosters, “Freedom Day is not ‘celebrate-our-diversity day.'” Quite the contrary, it is a blatant attempt to exclusively promote christian proselytizing in our schools and public squares. The same people who decry “political correctness” in our public dialogue simultaneously insist on “religious correctness.” And they do so hiding behind children [emphasis mine]:
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines explaining students’ religious liberties. Talking about religious liberties (especially explaining students’ liberties to parents) will make an administrator’s job easier because it will clarify that schools need not be “religion-free zones.” It is often the case that parents who complain to school officials about what they think are violations of the “separation of church and state” do not understand the appropriate and lawful place religious expression can have at school.
In case you’re confused, “religious freedom” now means christianists have a protected right to impose their beliefs on everyone else. Their right to talk about their religion trumps your right not to have to listen.
It’s that kind of thinking that ultimately leads to crap like this: a science teacher “preaching his Christian beliefs in class and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students’ arms.”
He was fired for burning the kid, not for proselytizing.
The main message students need to hear is that they shouldn’t feel like they have to be “undercover” about their religion…that somehow they have to be “hush-hush” about their family’s beliefs.
I don’t remember ever reading a story about a student being given detention or punished in any way for saying a quiet personal prayer before class or a test or a sporting event. I’ve read numerous reports over the years of the quashing of attempts to impose mandatory prayer on students and to ban gay clubs in high schools.
Religious considerations have no rightful place in public policy.
(Coincidentally, “a blogswarm dedicated to the separation of church and state” is being undertaken.” Hooray!)
UPDATE: I continue to “blog against theocracy.” Go here to read my more recent post about the intersection of religion and free speech.