Yesterday voters in Missouri passed by an overwhelming margin a bill to protect a threatened minority from an oppressive majority. Without this protection the minority might cease to exist. Yes, Missouri is taking the bold step of protecting that rarely seen and fragile species, the American Christian. Christians will, finally, no longer have to fear extinction with passage of Amendment 2 , better known as the "Right to Pray" bill. Proponents will sigh in relief now that it is once again safe to "pray briefly before a City Council meeting." Prayers from one faith? Invoking Jesus?
According to a 2008 survey from Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, more than 78% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. But sponsor of the bill feel compelled to "level of the playing field." It would seem that having a majority of nearly 80% is just not enough of an advantage. Even with a supermajority, the field needs to be leveled. This is not about religious freedom, it is about establishing absolute dominance, and repressing all religions other than Christianity. Only 4% are self-proclaimed non-believers (broken into the survey categories of atheists at 1.6% and agnostics at 2.4%). Yet in spite of these vast, massive, overwhelming, deeply embedded majorities, Christians often speak in the dialect of victimhood. The idea of Christians as modern victims while enjoying an overwhelming supermajority is difficult to swallow. From the perspective of a tiny 4% minority, any claim by a group representing 78% of the population that the views of a few are a threat to the many is simply surreal. A Christian complaining that Christianity or prayer are under attack when we submerged in Christianity's ubiquitous presence is like a fish in the Pacific Ocean complaining that there is not enough water.
The bill states that "no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs." So no physics (Big Bang), no biology (evolution), no geology (climate change),and no philosophy (secularists); we will be pumping out students from public schools who know nothing about anything other than the bible. My religious belief is that secular education is a sin; therefore according to this new law I can opt out of school completely.
As an aside, let us mention that Missouri right now is suffering a severe drought that threatens the state's entire agricultural sector. All but a few counties are disaster areas. Climate change is a liberal hoax, though, so good thing the legislature is focusing on the important issues.
Let's cut to the chase and through the nonsense. We all know that the Right to Pray bill is really an attempt to impose one religion on a secular society composed of diverse faiths, and to tear down the wall separating church and state. What our Christian friends so readily forget is that they pursue a course our founders fought hard to prevent. They could not have been more explicit about this point. John Adams, who said when signing the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Since he helped found the country, he would certainly know on what principles the nation was founded. Should we not take his word over some preacher's interpretation almost 300 years later? Missouri apparently thinks otherwise.
We do not need a Church of America: what the founding fathers knew in 1776 holds true in 2011. In spite of right wing Christian rhetoric to the contrary, that we are a secular nation cannot be denied. The facts supporting that conclusion are unambiguous, overwhelming, and indisputable. The Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation of 1777, the U.S. Constitution (1787), and the Federalist Papers (1787-1788) are purely secular documents. Searching for references to god in any of these documents is akin to looking for Rick Perry at a gun control rally. Nowhere to be seen.
Our national obsession with God in politics is a recent phenomenon, and would seem completely alien to any of our founders. "In God We Trust" was first placed on United States coins in 1861 during the Civil War. Teddy Roosevelt tried to remove the words from our money in 1907 but was shouted down. Only in 1956 was that phrase adopted as the national motto by the 84th Congress. The clause "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was inserted only in 1954 when President Eisenhower signed legislation to recognize "the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty."
For the first 180 years of existence, the United States never included God in its motto, on its currency, or in any document creating the republic. We were born a secular nation and remained one for nearly two centuries. Missouri wants to negate that history in order impose one religion on all others, our founders' greatest fear. The religious right claims, incredibly, to know more about the intent of our founders than the founders themselves.
We really need to stop this ridiculous argument about being a Christian nation. We are not; we have never been.
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