April 2018 Protect Your Religious Freedom – Defend the Separation of Church and State
Some Christians interpret the First Amendment; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” to mean the government cannot prohibit Christians from freely exercising their right to establish laws that impose their religious beliefs on everyone else. Contrary to their beliefs, the First Amendment gives everyone freedom of religion and, necessarily, freedom from religion. They are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other. Everyone has the right to freely exercise their religious beliefs and to be free from secular laws that impose evangelical, fundamentalist Christian values on them. One look at Trump’s cabinet though, or the four Republican candidates running for Governor in Maine, will give one pause.
Most of Trump’s cabinet nominees are evangelical, fundamentalist Christians. Generally they believe that God created the Earth 6,000 years ago, that men and dinosaurs co-existed, that everything is part of God’s plan and that Armageddon is just around the corner. Collectively they oppose Civil Rights, LGBT rights, a woman’s right to choose, public education, and deny climate change, all based on their Christian beliefs.
Many Cabinet members attend the Capitol Ministries’ bible study program, a Christian program specifically designed to bring the word of God to Cabinet members and to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Cabinet members who help sponsor the group include Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Mike Pompeo, and Betsy DeVos.
Mike Pence, Vice President, has said, “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order”. Apparently being an American comes in no better than fourth, if at all. He denies evolution, climate change, and believes employers have the right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.
Jeff Sessions, USAG, ruled that all employers no longer have to provide birth control if it offends their religious beliefs because “We will not allow people of (Christian) faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore”, and supports the administration’s plan to create a DHHS religious freedom division so religious doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can legally discriminate against anyone who is Gay, transgendered or is a woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy. Harper Jean Tobin, the director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality said “This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are.”
Scott Pruitt, EPA Admin., said his Christian belief helped him conclude that “The biblical world view is that we have a responsibility to manage, cultivate and harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind” without regard for the effects on other species, has called climate change a hoax, and believes evolution as an unproven theory.
Mike Pompeo, Sec. of State nominee, shows he doesn’t understand that the Sec. of State’s job is to promote and maintain world peace by claiming that politics is a “never-ending struggle until the rapture”, claims that “To worship our lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty”, and often mentions “God and Christianity” in official public speeches.
Betsy DeVos, Sec. of Education, advocates teaching the Christian creation myth in public schools, supports publically financed Christian schools and apparently places a higher value on an educational system based on mythology than on objective, verifiable facts.
All four Republican gubernatorial candidates in Maine have said they oppose women’s reproductive rights, opposition to which cannot be separated from their religious beliefs. Liz Hays, a member of the Maine Family Planning board reports that anti-abortion protests at the Augusta clinic have been going on for years. Although only a handful of protesters show up now, the election of yet another anti-choice governor could result in more protesters harassing women “who have every right to seek a legal medical procedure”. Make no mistake about it; all four Republican gubernatorial candidates heed the advice of the religious right to ignore your First Amendment right of the separation of church and state.
Louise Melling, the ACLU deputy legal director said “Religious liberty gives you a right to your beliefs, but it doesn’t give you the right to impose your beliefs on others or harm others, including (discriminating) against others.”
I urge you to learn more about your First Amendment rights to freedom of and freedom from religion.