I strongly believe in a secular society which means no persecution or special privileges based on religious belief. I believe in one law of the land where everyone is treated equally. Individual rights and liberties are held higher than any religious law, or any kind of group identity.
If someone is arrested for breaking the law, there isn’t a decision point of a Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist, Mormon, Islamist, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or State Atheist court. There is one court of law. Civil law is the law of the land. The evidence, decision of innocence or guilt, and any sentence should be independent of religious beliefs.
Most people believe in this vision for the United States, and most of those people are Christian. It is men who called themselves Christian that established our secular foundation. This is the vision for America that was so eloquently stated by John F. Kennedy in 1960.
“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source”
Despite these facts, secularism is always under attack. And it’s not just the conservatives, the Republicans. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. This allowed the use of a narcotic to be legal for some, but not others.
This is how justice is supposed to work:
What’s illegal for you is illegal for me
What’s legal for me is legal for you
Thanks to Clinton, some people are more equal than others. Thanks to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in 2014, some corporations are more equal than others. A corporation like Hobby Lobby can associate itself with a religion, and through that association, be granted special legal privileges over other corporations.
Recently President Donald Trump continued the assault on secularism during a speech on The National Day of Prayer where he attacked the Johnson Amendment and established a faith-based government initiative.
The Johnson Amendment states that when an organization is getting subsidized by tax payers (tax free status) that it doesn’t get in the business of endorsing political candidates. Why? Because the tax payers represent “we the people.” They are Democrats, Republicans, religious, and non-religious. If an organization is going to be in the business of endorsing political candidates, they shouldn’t be tax exempt.
The Johnson Amendment is how the law should be. It’s anti-corruption. And most Christians want the Johnson Amendment. Most church leaders don’t want politicians knocking on their door. They don’t want to be in the business of promoting politicians, they want to be in the business of promoting god.
The Faith-based initiative establishes insider lobbying for religious organizations to receive government (tax payer) funding. So, it’s not enough to not pay taxes, they want greater government welfare. But this won’t be for any religious institutions. Strip away the Johnson Amendment and simply make it so the lunatic fringe of Evangelicals that Trump is in bed with will get in front of the line for tax payer handouts.
Trump doesn’t represent the majority. He’s promoting his own agenda of corruption and good-old-boys politics.
During his speech, Trump mentions that everyone is now saying “Merry Christmas” in December like they should be. Nothing says religious liberty like forcing Jews to say Merry Christmas.
Trump claims to be promoting religious liberty, but that’s not what this is. It’s religious privilege. And lately, religious freedom means freedom to discriminate.
After a rambling speech continually using the words prayer and faith, Trump pulls a bait and switch in the end. He includes the words hard work and intelligence. There’s a real initiative we need in Washington. The hard work and intelligence initiative could actually be useful.
Politicians love to use the word faith. Why? It makes people feel good without the politician actually having to say anything. Saying that our country was built on faith is like saying our country was built on hammers. Having faith that something can be accomplished is necessary to get it done. Having oxygen is also important. Our country was built on faith, oxygen, and hammers.
Faith is not a virtue. It all depends on what you have faith in. The terrorists on 9/11 had faith. Trump had faith that $130K would pay off a hooker. Perhaps we should put more emphasis on hard work and intelligence.
-James Kirk Wall
CBS News - Trump announces faith initiative on National Day of Prayer
Whitehouse.gov - Executive Order on the Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative
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