Defusing Hate: The Church-State Wall Can Stop A Rising Wave Of Intolerance
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 12:14:09 PM EST
The wave of anti-Muslim hysteria sweeping the nation right now is deplorable. Americans of goodwill who value the Founding Fathers' commitment to religious liberty must stand against it.

Discouraging incidents continue to mount. In lower Manhattan, protests have erupted over plans to build an Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In Murfreesboro, Tenn., some local residents are trying to block construction of a mosque. In Gainesville, Fla., a radical Christian fundamentalist pastor plans to burn Qurans this Saturday.

The sad thing is, we've been through this before. It happened in 1838 when Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs issued an order demanding the expulsion or extermination of Mormons in that state. It happened in 1844 when bands of "nativist" Protestants torched Catholic churches in Philadelphia. It happened in 1941 when mobs attacked, beat and killed Jehovah's Witnesses because they refused, on religious grounds, to salute the flag.  

It's understandable that some responsible people want to respond to the bigotry they see all around them. In Hartford, Conn., the city council has decided to ask a Muslim leader to open its meetings with a prayer from the Quran.

I'm sure this decision was born of good intentions, but it's the wrong response. Rather than encourage government bodies to sponsor Islamic, Christian or any other type of religious service, we would do better to reaffirm our commitment to separation of church and state - the platform upon which religious liberty rests.

As Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn put it, "Now, I think no general body should start its sessions with any prayer. City council is supposed to make sure potholes get fixed and residents have the best cable service possible. They are not supposed to become pastors or religious officials in any way."

But Lynn also pointed out that "fundamental Christian hypocrisy" of some groups demanding that meetings open with their prayers but protesting when other religious groups seek that right.

As bad as the situation is right now, it's also a teachable moment. This is an opportunity for leaders with vision to reaffirm all that is great about America - to remind our people of the importance of diversity and stand up for equality for everyone regardless of their beliefs about religion.

The demagogues have had their say. Now it's time for powerful voices to rebuke Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and all of those who claim to champion the values of our Constitution even as they mock them. It's time to remind America of the core vision of the Founders and what they intended when they adopted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And to do this without apology -- with no "buts."

Above all, it's time to embrace the idea that government has no business meddling in religion. Let individuals say whatever prayer or secular reflection that is meaningful to them, with the state sponsoring none. Our leaders should remind the people that under the First Amendment, all religions must be treated equally - with no faith receiving favors or burdens.

The best way to respond to hate and bigotry is to embrace basic principles, not trash them: That religious and philosophical diversity is a good thing. That the government cares not where, how or if you worship. That complete religious liberty for all is best ensured by the separation of church and state.

The best answer to bigots is not to take away their right to speak - but to offer better speech by explaining exactly how wrong they are and why their views run counter to the spirit of freedom that animates this nation.

P.S. Muslims have been living in America since our nation began, and many of our Founders supported their rights. James Hutson, a historian at the Library of Congress, has an interesting piece on this.

But Lynn also pointed out that "fundamental Christian hypocrisy" of some groups demanding that meetings open with their prayers but protesting when other religious groups seek that right.

More than that... the rhetoric is that "diversity is acceptable" or that there is freedom of religion in America, but that non-Christians are trying to force Christians to be like them by denying them their "right" to pray.  That was what the mayor of Lakeland Florida implied in a talk he gave, and that is what I hear and read around here.  He was talking about the invocation given before each meeting.

The problem is that there are a number of groups that have not been asked to lead the "invocation", including the local mosque (they did ask the UU church and the Synagogue to pray... after being called out).  Non-Christians are not only being ignored, but they are singled out if the do NOT take part in the prayers- not standing and bowing their heads, for instance.   They think if they aren't dominating the rest of us, then they're somehow being persecuted.  Just as the jackass in Gainesville is crying "persecution" because of the reaction to his hate-filled plans.

Part of it is a dire need for education- teaching people what the separation of church and state means and does not mean.  It does not mean that atheists are winning because there are no prayers before government meetings.  It does not mean people are being persecuted when others tell them "NO!" when they proselytize.

It does not mean that private prayers will be banned in public places... as long as they ARE private (Too often I've heard the preaching-prayer - like loud "grace" at a restaurant that actually is a sermon directed at others).  It doesn't mean that kids can't pray before a test.  

These are some of the things that are being taught that it means in the churches.  They need to realize- and this will only come when they start hearing the truth about the issue- that separation of church and state protects them as much as it protects everyone else... and that America will cease to exist as a free country if that separation of church and state is ever torn down.  Indeed, I would argue that if separation of church and state is ever eliminated in this country (the dominionists winning, for instance), America will become the worst and most horrible tyranny that ever existed- worse than any other government including Nazi Germany.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 05:12:28 PM EST

Bob, I don't think these guys have a problem with a tyranny. Reminds me of a quote from a book, "It's good to be in a police state, if you're a policeman." Well, it's good to be in a theocracy if you're in the right religion. The proof of it is their mealy-mouthed claims to accept that slavery was wrong, while (as documented at sites like this) they have so many links to Rushdoonists and neo-Confederates that they have no identity at all except nostalgia for a past ruled by the worst tyranny America has ever had: a tyranny violently enforced by an entire race against another without all that tax-intensive big government stuff. The seduction of being part of a Master Race is that you want the freedom to tyrannize others, for an easy wealth, for sexual license, or just out of simple sadism. That's what freedom means for "entrepreneurs" and their eager henchmen.

by super390 on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 11:10:49 PM EST

As a conservative Orthodox Christian, I am sure that if the dominionists had enough clout, that I would be on their little list, since I reverence icons and cross myself when I pray. These people are just nuts enough to do strange and hurtful things to other people if they get enough power. I agree that there should be no 'invocations' at public meetings since the Jesus they invoke is only a parody of the one I worship.
Jim of Olym

by rdrjames on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 04:21:31 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (324 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (165 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (96 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (90 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (95 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (121 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (100 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (72 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (222 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (53 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (145 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (49 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (52 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (204 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (214 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (158 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (140 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (137 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (129 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (139 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (120 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (171 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (133 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (70 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (185 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (73 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (103 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (99 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.