The U.S. Constitution, ratified by every state in the Union, guarantees freedom of religion in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, whom conservatives like to extol as a modern-day Evangelical, famously said,
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Of course, Jefferson was called in infidel by the Christians of his day, but if Thomas Jefferson was who David Barton likes to insist he was, then why cannot the Evangelicals who are supposedly identical to Jefferson adopt the same attitude toward religious pluralism?
Don’t hold your breath.
We have already been told by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer that Islam is not a religion at all but a cult, and therefore not protected by the First Amendment. Now Bryan Fischer has made clear that this distinction applies equally to every religion that is not Christianity.
Why is Bryan Fischer so upset now? Because on November 3, Michele Obama hosted in the White House “the Hindu festival of Diwali, or “festival of lights,” to honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.”
Oh dear. Watch courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
This is a counterfeit religion,. It is an Eastern religion. It is, in essence, an occult religion. It’s a counterfeit, a false alternative to Christianity. It ultimately represents the doctrine of demons, that is what you have with Hinduism and now this is being celebrated in the White House.
So this Lakshmi, this is the name of a demon now that has been invited into the White House by the First Lady.
Fischer’s solution, announced last week via Twitter, is to elect a Christian president in 2016 “who will bring clergy together to go through the White House and purify that place. Spiritually cleanse that place of everything that has been honored there, that’s been invited into that place over the last five years, and it will be eight unless something radical happens.”
You can almost hear the “hint, hint” there at the end. And yes, this is the fifth year that the Obama’s have celebrated the Festival of Lights.
Actually, Christianity was itself once a counterfeit religion according to Fischer’s terminology, a “false alternative” to polytheism. Being granted legitimacy by the emperor Constantine, Christianity attained the status is holds now by destroying every alternative to itself, including other forms of Christianity. Where it failed, it was not for want of trying.
Historian Ramsay MacMullen has noted the penalties and incentives used by the Christian authorities to speed conversion:
Government…at the urging of the bishops weighed in with threats, and more than threats, of fines, confiscation, exile, imprisonment, flogging, torture, beheading, and crucifixion. What more could be imagined? Nothing. The extremes of conceivable pressure were brought to bear. Thus, over the course of many centuries, compliance was eventually secured and the empire made Christian in truth. 
This was the “conversion” of the Roman Empire. Add to it anti-Jewish pogroms, crusades, inquisitions and witch burnings over the next thousand years.
Millions died as a result.
This is clearly not what the Founding Fathers intended. Christianity was never intended to be the only religion protected by the First Amendment, let alone the only religion.
Yet in effect, we are told that since Christianity is the only actual religion in the world that the First Amendment was written to protect only Christianity, in effect, making Christianity the state religion the First Amendment was written to ban.
The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.
President Obama shares this sentiment, saying, “Here in the United States, Diwali also reminds us that our nation is home to many faiths and traditions, and that our diversity makes us stronger.”
It does not take much to imagine that Jefferson thought the same of the Constitution, which likewise fails to invoke the name of Jesus. Think about it: Jew and Gentile, Christian and Muslim, infidels like Jefferson himself, and the Hindus Bryan Fischer calls a “counterfeit” religion.
Amazingly, for people like Fischer, Obama is a Muslim and Thomas Jefferson an Evangelical Christian even when the same words are coming out of their mouths.
Jefferson created in our minds the idea of what David Barton calls an “infamous phrase,” a “wall of separation” protecting religion from government and government from religion, writing in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists,
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
It is Bryan Fischer and his ilk who wish to intrude, contrary to the guarantees of the First Amendment, contrary to the express desire of Thomas Jefferson, between not only man and God but between government and citizen.
 Ramsay MacMullen. Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997),
Photo from Huffington Post
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.