Some so-called Christians really do not like being told they cannot persecute people. Look at the recent brouhaha in North Carolina. Look at Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, whom Right Wing Watch reports won “the first ever “Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award” for having signed a radical anti-LGBT bill into law earlier this year that will allow businesses to deny service to gay people.”
Bryant is so dead-set on depriving people of the same rights he enjoys, that he bombastically proclaimed secular progressives “don’t know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith and our belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Oh dear. Because crucifixion is such a big thing these days. Just wait your turn, Phil. Wait your turn.
Then there is hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, only a little less shrill, who talked the other day about “how secularist groups have worked to strip any mention of God and Christianity from the public square,” which he says forces Christians into “spiritual ghettos.” You know, as opposed to real ghettos where white police officers can gun you down at their leisure for just about any reason at all. Poor, poor haters.
According to Perkins,
“We are not disqualified from engaging in the public square simple because we’re Christian. And that’s where we’re at today, where people want us to check our Christian faith at the door of even public service; not just holding public office, but if you’re a fireman, a policeman, a teacher, a football coach, you’re supposed to leave your faith at home or within the confines of the church. [That is] totally contrary to what the founders envisioned and, I would argue, Frank, totally contrary to what God has called us to do.”
Just wow. If they had been forced from the public square we wouldn’t be listening to Perkins and his fellow haters dish out their daily calls for persecution of “nonbelievers,” and we sure wouldn’t be listening to Donald Trump storm his way to the Republican nomination on a platform of hate.
Watch Perkins make stuff up courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
This is kind of funny coming from a guy who wants to exclude all but Christians from the public square. In effect, as I’ve said here before, today’s Religious Right wants to reimpose the fifth century Theodosian Code, which made non-Christians second-class citizens, and banned them from the military and from the government, as well as banning them from having their own places of worship. Sound familiar?
You bet it does. Ask Donald Trump, who has gathered all this unreasoning hate into his own small, small hands.
Perkins appeals to the Founding Fathers. Republicans like to do that even when they have no actual point to make. According to Perkins, the Founders didn’t want Christians to be kept from persecuting others, but that’s not actually true. Colonial America had laws near as draconian as those of the Theodosian Code thirteen centuries earlier, as Thomas Jefferson illustrates in speaking of the Virginia Code of 1705. And as you can see, he does not approve:
“By our own act of Assembly of 1705, c. 30, if a person brought up in the Christian religion denies the being of God, or the Trinity, or asserts there are more gods than one, or denies the Christian religion to be true, or the Scriptures to be of divine authority, he is punishable on the first offense by incapacity to hold any office or employment, ecclesiastical, civil, or military; on the second, by disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy, to be guardian, executor, or administrator, and by three years’ imprisonment without bail. A fathers right to the custody of his own children being founded in law on his right of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course be severed from him, and put by the authority of the court, into more orthodox hands. This is a summary view of that religious slavery under which a people have been willing to remain, who have lavished their lives and fortunes for the establishment of civil freedom.”
So what Perkins is advocating is, in Jeffersonian terms, “religious slavery.”
As you can see, it was not Christians who were banned from the public square, but any who challenged Christian doctrines. The Religious Right would have it so today as well, as we’ve seen from their proclamations that only Christians should hold any public position at all, from teacher to school board to mayor to legislator or president. Atheists, Muslims, and others should not be heard. Despite all these facts, Perkins claimed he could see coming a day when even “private” faith is banned.
Somehow, probably in the same way people like him have seen the government coming for the guns for decades and decades, he said “we see this administration, we see the left creating these spiritual ghettos where we are forced into, confined to these areas, trying to quarantine faith so it’s more easily controllable.”
Of course, Perkins is completely misrepresenting the situation, which is that he and his fellow haters want to deprive people of their rights if they feel those people are not sufficiently “Christian,” which is ironic, because Perkins and his fellow haters are not sufficiently Christian.
Perkins is not the victim here. He is complaining because he is not being allowed to victimize others. Nobody anywhere is saying he can’t practice his religion. He just can’t practice it at the expensive of others.
I’m a Heathen. Ásatrú. Sometimes called Forn Siðr or Odinism. My ancestors (and probably many of yours) offered sacrifice to Odin by hanging people from trees. Should my “sincerely held religious beliefs” (their language, not mine) allow me to practice the religion of my ancestors?
Obviously, this isn’t the sort of thing the Founding Fathers had in mind at all, though Christians have gotten away with persecuting other belief systems into extinction on these very shores, and Christian sects would have happily persecuted each other into extinction if not for the actions of the Founding Fathers.
The Founders protected religious freedom for all Americans by outlawing a government established religion. That means Perkins can whine all he wants about being the victim thanks to the First Amendment, but that same amendment means he can’t legislate his hate against other Americans.
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.