Thursday, February 12, 2015

One small step to Iran

Two stories in the news have got my attention this morning. First The Raw Story has this from Georgia:
According to the lawsuit, teacher Kaytrene Bright and Cel Thompson forced the children of anonymous plaintiffs Jane and John Doe to join their classmates in prayer or leave the classroom.
“Encouraging the Doe children to pray, or isolating and punishing the Doe children for electing not to pray, violates the deeply and sincerely held moral convictions of the Doe children and therefore their First Amendment rights,” the complaint reads.
What exactly did these teachers do? They forced the kids to bow their heads and pray in public school and when they did not, the kids were teased by the other kids and punished by the teacher. The teacher used her "mean voice" to send the kids out of the classroom when they were finally permitted to leave during prayers by the principal of the school. Now the school is facing a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization dedicated to enforcing the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

Then there is this from USA Today:
Back in 2003, Roy Moore was known as the Ten Commandments chief justice. Now, he's fighting over gay marriage.
Roy Moore is at it again.
Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, doesn't seem to believe that judicial orders, including those issued by the Supreme Court of the United States, should be followed if he disagrees with them.
What we see above are two examples where Christians are seeking to reimage this country as a Christian nation when it that is clearly not so. The Founding Fathers were very explicit about their intentions when they wrote the Bill of Rights:
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Notice that this is Amendment 1, and the very first clause prohibits the establishment of a government sponsored religion. Religious persecution was uppermost on their minds considering that they came from a nation-state that established a certain form of Christianity and that they disagreed with the King of England's ideas on how to practice religion.

In writing the First Amendment, they sought to protect their posterity from the same tyranny. Yet, as we have seen, there are Christians in this nation today, who would prefer to forget that bit of history.

Consider the prayer that kids were forced to recite in the classroom in Swaisnborough, Georgia:
“God our Father, we give thanks, for our many blessings. Amen.”
Now imagine the outrage if that prayer went like this:
"Oh Allah! Bless the food You have provided us and save us from the punishment of the hellfire. In the name of Allah."
If that were to happen, someone would be calling the police to save their kids from religious tyranny and the teacher would be arrested and probably beaten by the police for good measure. What's more is that in that classroom, the kids were ostracized for not conforming. The teachers were so persistent that eventually, they wore one of the children down to the point of praying with the others.

This is not how Christianity (or any other religion) should be promoted, but apparently, some in the South believe that this is proper. The behavior in the South smacks of the behavior in Iran and other deeply Muslim countries with government sponsored religion. One look at Iran's abysmal human rights record will tell us where we're going if Christians should ever find the power to declare the United States to be a Christian nation. According to the Jerusalem Post:
"Despite the election last year of Iran’s reform-minded president Hassan Rouhani, there has been no Persian thaw for Iran’s struggling religious minorities. Wide-scale repression of religious freedom continues with utter impunity during Rouhani’s tenure."
Religious repression includes economic and political repression, like harsher penalties in the courts. The article goes on further:
The ongoing crackdown on religious freedom is an outgrowth of Iran’s strict fundamentalist form of Shi’ite Islam. Dr. Shaheed’s report said,“As of 3 January 2014, at least 307 members of religious minorities were in detention, of whom 136 were Baha’is, 90 Sunni Muslims, 50 Christians, 19 Dervish Muslims (four Dervish human rights lawyers were also reportedly detained), four were Yarasan, two were Zoroastrians, and six were from other groups.” 
If you think that the treatment of children in that Georgia classroom was bad, just wait until those righteous Christian children grow up to run the government. Atheists, Buddhists, and Muslims for sure, will have cause for concern if the US becomes a Christian nation. Notice that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Georgia school were identified as "Doe" seeking anonymity. Why? They are obviously worried about abuse from supremely righteous Christians who aren't afraid to perpetrate violence in the name of their Lord.

Such threats are why the Founding Fathers declared that there shall be no state sponsored religion. The purpose of the First Amendment isn't just to protect the rest of us who may or may not be religious. It is to protect the freedom of all of us to practice religion as a matter of preference or not to practice it at all. It is to protect all of us from the kind of persecution that some Christians hope to avoid by making this country a Christian nation. That is the point of the First Amendment.

Then, with religion out of the way, our government is free to focus on policy matters that we can all agree upon.
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