Religion in Society

Right Wingers: Freedom of Religion Only Applies to Us

| by Jerome McCollom

Bryan Fischer, a figure on the Christian ultra right-wing who's with the far-right American Family Association, believes that only Christians are protected by the First Amendment's protection on religious liberties.

That gives him cover to oppose the rights of Muslims to say, not build mosques or even kick them out of the U.S. It's an idea that is gaining popularity among the Christian right today, especially in states such as Tennessee where there is rabid opposition to the rights of Muslims to build mosques.

I don't agree with Islam and I don't think it is a necessarily good for society at large, but just like Christians, they have a right to practice their religion. If according to Fischer, only Christians (and maybe especially Christians like him) have rights, then would I have a right to be an atheist? That might be a strange interpretation of the Constitution, but if it is indeed interpreted in such a way to limit freedom of religion to only Christians, would someone without a religion be forced to participate in religious acts?

Just 60 years ago the children of atheists (and older children who were atheists) were forced to engage in school directed prayers and school-directed bible readings. Atheists were denied the ability to serve in public office in a number of states. In some parts of the country, being an atheist might mean lose custody of your children, even today.

By the way, Newt Gingrich, theocrat, divorcer-of-a-wife-on-her-sickbed and would-be president, stated that he feared our nation could become a "secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists." What?! O.K., I know that the people Newt wants to vote for him despise both gays and Muslims, along with gays, feminists, etc, but Islam has nothing to do with atheism. In fact, the Christian right and Muslims are much more similar to beliefs (such as opposition to gay rights, feminism, free-thought etc) than atheism has anything to do with Islam.

Lastly, a secular nation is not necessarily an atheist nation. Secularism means the government doesn't take a position on religion, for example, not stating "one nation, under god" nor "no nation, under god." A nation of atheists would be one where people let religion compete in the marketplace of ideas, a position supported by atheists. Atheists don't want to use the power of the government to further atheism, they just want a level playing field.

P.S. Newt supported military involvement in Libya before Obama engaged in military action then -- on a dime -- opposed said military action and attacked President Obama. This charlatan could be our next president?