They’ve decided legislative sessions can begin with strictly Christian prayers. You can have overtly religious displays in the state house. You can mandate school prayer, hold church services in schools, make the Bible the state book and even write creationism into the state statutes.
It seems as if everywhere you look, religious proclamations and public expressions of (Christian) faith is popping up all throughout the public square. In an effort to prove that there is truly no such thing as a separation of church and state, the religious right has decide to put its own stamp on every secular event or instance if can find. If you object, well, you’re obviously just trying to squelch their first amendment rights to openly practice religion, as well as their right to free speech in any form.
But it’s not just schools and state houses. It’s on your street corner, your polling place and your summer festivals.
Here are 3 new ways religion is creeping into the public sphere:
1) The “Watchmen on the Wall.“ Did you know there is no such thing as church and state separation? Well, if you didn’t, the “Watchmen” are dedicated to ensuring you do, since their goal is to crumble any partition that keeps the United States a secular country. Led by Family Research Council, the group had their annual “national briefing” this past weekend, with Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, exhorting pastors to be more politically involved, especially at the pulpit.
“We have a responsibility to speak on the moral issues. Abortion, homosexuality, these are moral issues. This is a free country, you can do what you want to do but I want you to know it’s a sin against God. This is a sin,” said Graham, who warned his fellow pastors that they aren’t being aggressive enough if they aren’t being “targeted” for their actions. “Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day. So what? Chop it off!”
Preaching politics used to be discouraged by churches out of fear of losing their tax exempt statuses for engaging in campaigning. But within the last few years, churches have begun to outright challenge that rule, with Family Research Council leading the charge to violate the law.
2) Creeping classroom creationism. Speaking of tax exempt status, a group of atheists are allegedly challenging the church’s tax status, claiming that it counts as discrimination, and the theocracy crowd couldn’t be happier. Yes, that’s right, the people who support religion in the public sphere are hoping that the case could somehow be used to give them greater freedom to get creationism into public schools as “science.” According to one legal analyst, by putting themselves on the same frame as churches, the atheists have opened the door to creationism because apparently creationism is to Christianity as evolution is to atheism.
“Because if atheism or humanism are religions themselves, and public schools decide to teach the tenets of those religions while excluding the tenets of other theistic religions, then that is discriminatory treatment in and of itself,” Liberty Counsel lawyer Harry Mihet told OneNewsNow. Of course, that ignores the obvious difference between creationism and evolution — that evolution isn’t a “tenet” of any “theism” anymore than, say, gravity is.
3) There‘s Jesus in the Bratwurst. The days of a summer festival simply being a summer festival is over. The Madison, Wisconsin Brat Fest was revamped this year to give it more Christian appeal, after the festival’s sponsor had a religious experience at a Christian music festival the year prior. He decided to add an additional stage to his event to focus on this new outreach, then invited a well-known anti-abortion activist to run it. “Our message will be calling people into a relationship with Jesus,” said Bob Lenz, who shortly thereafter was disinvited once Madison residents, including local politicians, complained. The service itself went on, however. About 1000 people showed, and the organizer said he’d like to bring it back next year. Attendees were enthused to have a new push at a new audience. “Every other organization is out here doing their thing to bring about change, why shouldn’t the church (do that) here? It’s just great to see our faith allowed to be out in the open,” one supporter told the local news.
Photo credit: Thinkstock