Religion has no place in government

It is often claimed by GOP congresspeople that the United States of America is a nation built on religion, and that it is an inherently Christian nation. This claim is then used to justify allowing religion to impact their decisions with regards to various pieces of legislation.

Throughout the past decade religion has been used by congressmen to vote against rights for gay and lesbian individuals, transgender people and women seeking abortions.

However, these claims are at their best befuddling and at their worst, logically inconsistent.

Just a few weeks ago, when the United States suffered its worst mass shooting in history, many Republican congresspeople stated that it remained against the constitution to increase gun control. They cited the Second Amendment, which was not used to justify the right of an individual to own a gun until many years after its inception.

In fact, the Second Amendment was primarily created to assert the rights of “well regulated militias” to own guns. Anyhow, the GOP claims frequently to be advocating obedience to the Constitution in all aspects of government.

That is, excepting religion.

It it desired to legislate the supposed will of their god. However, by the words of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In this, the Constitution appears to be clear. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and one of the founding fathers, even said, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship.”

Still, religion is regarded as acceptable in government. It feels each election holds the contest of which corrupt candidate is the most holy.  Even Donald Trump, who was generally seen as someone to cast aside the rules of polite politics during his campaign, made many an effort to entice the evangelical base, at one point saying, “Two Corinthians 3:17. That’s the whole ball game, right?”

And as president, Trump has continued to pander to evangelical Christians. Just this week he attended and spoke at the Values Voter Summit, which is one of the largest gatherings of conservatives in the nation.

The Values Voter Summit website proclaims loud and clear that it was created to “preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government.”

Here’s the problem with that:  they don’t mean religious liberties for those of all faiths; they mean the right of evangelical Christians to discriminate against gay and transgender individuals, and to brand the government with the words of their Bible.

For example, it has long been decreed that prayer cannot be mandated in public schools. This was decided in the infamous Supreme Court case of Engel v. Vitale, in which a Jewish student by the name of Steven Engel disagreed with a New York public school that had decided to open the school day with prayer.

Yet, just this June, HB 128 passed in Kentucky, allowing Bible literacy to be taught in their public schools. The ACLU has stated that it will be keeping a close eye on the situation.

The Bible literacy law does not outline plans to offer elective classes for students to study the Quran or the Tao or any other religious texts. And, surely, a movement with religious liberty on its agenda would be concerned about the rights of all religions.

But as was proven by yet another constitutional denial on the grounds of religion, they do not approve of people’s rights to practice religions other than Christianity, and they especially do not approve of atheistic and secular beliefs.

The Supreme Court has very clearly claimed in Torcaso v. Watkins that no religious test can be administered to an individual seeking to hold public office.

Still, seven states have attempted to ban atheists from public office. This is absurd.

How can the United States claim in one breath to be a bastion of religious liberty, and in the next, denounce its clearly laid out laws in favor of the right of Christians to force their religion into public schools and public offices?

Furthermore, how can it continue to elect not just congresspeople, but presidents, who hold the belief that, as Trump has said on many occasions, “In America we worship [the Christian] God, not government”?

Religion has no place in American politics, no place in public office and no place in public schools.  On this the law is clear.

The Establishment clause states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Landmark Supreme Court cases have determined that public schools cannot mandate prayer and that there may be no religious tests for office. Yet in the attacks shown by Kentucky’s HB 128, by seven states’ attempts to ban atheists from seeking public office and by legislation that is against gay and transgender rights, the wishes of the Supreme Court and the Founding Fathers, both of whom are praised by conservatives, are clearly ignored.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that there is no “War on Christianity,” as is claimed by many a conservative. Modern American Christian conservatives are not the persecuted minority. They are the oppressive majority.

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