religious freedom done very, very wrong
The citizens of Missouri recently approved a “right to pray” amendment by a landslide, which would be huge news if the Constitution of the United States didn’t have an Establishment Clause and there was a law against being a practicing member of a religious group. But it does, which raises the question of why would the citizens of Missouri vote to have a right they already have. Well, if you look at the sneaky clause stating that “no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs,” then you’ll probably note the Religious Right’s typical sneaky tactic of using an existing protection for religious freedoms, tacking on something it really wants, and portraying it as an extension of a basic an inalienable right to believe. Well, a denomination of Christianity. Other religions will have a tougher time being accepted even if they try to use the exact same laws the Religious Right fought to institute.
Now, this is just not good reasoning because under this logic, I could justify that because I’m an atheist and never liked that whole “under God” thing on money, much preferring a return to “e pluribus unum” as the official motto, I could just whip up my own money with the motto which meets my views and use it instead of the officially recognized legal tender. Sure, sure, atheism isn’t a religion, but the Establishment Clause grants me free speech and we can argue that my free speech and beliefs regarding religion are constitutionally protected so I should be allowed to counterfeit. But I’m pretty confident that the Secret Service would disagree with my opinion of the law were I to start printing my own “godless” bills and have much more of a legal leg to stand on when they send me to a federal penitentiary. You see, the right to free speech doesn’t entitle me to always get my own way in everything. Secularists can understand that. The Religious Right, convinced of its own divine moral superiority, simply cannot.
As far as the fundamentalists are concerned, religious freedom can only exist when they’re given preferential treatment and allowed to get their own way every time. If they can’t do as they wish with nary a peer from criticism, they’re being oppressed by hateful sinners and heretics. And God forbid that the delicate little ears of their precious children be forced to hear scientific facts. They would so much rather rehash the same talking points that have been publicly debunked and eviscerated countless times by anyone who passed a science class when it comes to evolution and cosmology, and leave it at that. So this is why they’re trying to make it sound as if closing one’s ears and screaming “la la la, I can’t hear you!” is somehow sane or acceptable behavior in schools when teachers present the findings drawn from millions of papers and hundreds of years of research rather than bow to the zealots and start science class by flipping to the first page of Genesis and proceeding to read it word for word.
Science is not optional. Facts are not optional. There are a lot of facts and findings that I don’t very much like either, but if they have strong evidence behind them, I have to listen to them. Any creationist kook can vomit a Gish gallop and then refuse to accept when he’s proven wrong but that won’t make DNA stop being a double helix, or invalidate natural selection, or make the stars 6,000 years old. To claim that we knew more about the world 2,000 years ago then we do today, and that the vast bodies of work that created the modern, technologically advanced civilization where men have walked on another world were crafted by bedeviled heretics whose only goal is to remove the godly from their faith in a conspiracy lasting since the 1500s, is utterly absurd. But this is exactly what the Religious Right in the United States does day in and day out, coming up with more and more excuses for their intolerance of other faiths, ideas, opinions, and ways of life, and ways to pettily defend their seemingly fragile faith.