By February 23, 2017 0 Comments

Vigilance is our Duty

Submitted by:  Tom Cara, Director, FFRFMCC

As we are now officially one month into a new Presidency, the FFRFMCC  roundly condemns the bigoted, anti-religious, and unconstitutional actions of this administration.

As non-theists, it is without question we often have very vocal opinions regarding religion – and not all of them are positive to say the least. Many of us speak out against its intrusion into government, as well as its attempts to influence public policy pertaining to the civil rights of others. We recognize that much of the homophobia, misogyny and intolerance in our society is a result of blatant arrogance from those who claim false truths of their religion, and their insistence the “rules” of their doctrine must apply to all. But this is not a condemnation of all who hold to a religious faith. Many are people we know and love – family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  And they are not just Christians, but Jews, Muslims, Hindu and Buddhists. Despite our disagreements with them regarding the validity of their superstitious beliefs, we would never propose silencing those beliefs. Or worse, banning from this country those who hold them.

The divisive rhetoric of this new administration (pre and post-election) has triggered a wave of threats and hate crimes against the Muslim and Jewish communities. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there has been an uptick in this since the November election, most glaringly at non-Christian religious communities.  More than 200 complaints of violence or threats had been received by the SPLC within only one week after the November 8, 2016 election. The Council On American-Islamic Relations has also received an increased number of complaints since that time. And these are now widespread across many minority groups – Muslims and those of Arab descent, Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans and the LGBT community.

The new Executive Branch has decided to side with and empower dangerous white nationalists and religious fundamentalists, who would turn our country into a white-privileged, Christian theocracy if only given the chance. Fortunately, we are seeing a growing movement who are directing hard questions regarding policies targeting minority groups. These questions have not yielded honest or cogent answers. And with a little encouragement from the Religious Right in this country, I surmise it will not be long before the White House begins to respond to questions concerning the administration’s harmful policies against religious and ethnic minorities by countering with the false claim that Christians are actually the most persecuted group in this country.

In addition to an unconstitutional Muslim ban, it now looms on the horizon that our Supreme Court will likely be titled in favor of a reversal of Roe vs. Wade, which of course would create a health crisis in this country. House Joint Resolution 27 sought (unsuccessfully) to repeal the District of Columbia’s “Death with Dignity” provision, which currently allows for humane means to end suffering. And now, leaked documents reveal the draft of a letter indicating actions may be taken to reverse President Obama’s policy guidelines of protections for transgender students, which allow them to utilize the restrooms of their gender identification. The White House has also deleted any reference to climate change from its official website, with the exception of a promise to eliminate all of President Obama’s climate change policies, which were put in place to try and prevent further erosion of humanity’s ability to survive on this planet.

We also face the possible threat of a dismantling of our public school system, and further attempts to impose creationism taught in our children’s science classes.

All of these actions are designed with the intent of infringing on our civil and human rights, and to impede rationalism and critical thinking. And for the most part, they are generated from antiquated religious beliefs.

As far as religions go, Christianity is no better or worse than Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, or the multitudes of other religions out there. But the majority religion in any country is typically the one that is going to cause the most problems. Christianity is by far the majority religious affiliation in the United States, and by all appearances, we now have an Executive administration that has aligned itself with the most intolerant and divisive faction of that particular religion – one which has already commandeered great power in this country.

But the collective citizenry of this country appears to be fighting back. First, we had the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration, calling to protect a woman’s right to exercise control of her own body.  Then, the protests began at airports around the world decrying the unconstitutional Muslim ban.

As a side note, I was picking up two dear (Christian) friends from O’Hare who were returning from a vacation in Puerto Rico the day the airport protests began. While in the car en route to Terminal 1 at O’Hare, I heard the news about the protests, and suddenly found myself confronted with a traffic jam due to the unrest going on at the international terminal. While being stuck in traffic is never fun, this was the one time I was happy to be in that situation, for I was so proud of the people of our nation taking a stand against the Establishment Clause violations of an administration seeking to impose a religious test on people looking to enter our country.  And yes, my Christian friends were just as angered at these actions, and at the same time, uplifted by the power of people to defy authoritarian rule.

It has been inspirational (in a non-religious sense) to see such massive organized protests against this administration’s abysmal first 30 days in power. And I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all the FFRFMCC members, and others in the secular community, for taking a stand against these dangerous policies with their participation. Let us also so give credit to those of religious faith who, by taking part as well in these protests, have shown they can indeed think and speak for themselves and ignore the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of what many leaders from their religion preach to be their doctrine’s “teachings.”

I sincerely hope this resistance continues for as long as need be. But if marching in a protest is not your cup of tea, then please take the time to contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to do the right thing against those elected and appointed officials, and the religious institutions that monopolize their attention, who display such a warped sense of what freedom actually means in this country.

But the important things are to stay informed, active — and vigilant. As it is often and truthfully said, democracy is not a spectator sport.

Neither is justice…

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