The Reality of 

Religious Freedom

2/11/2017 by Allan Hayes

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Religious freedom is a concept that was literally the inspiration for settlers to start the first colonies in America. The intended purpose is to allow people to practice their religion of choice, if any, free from government persecution.

In 1620 the first pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom. The puritans followed them quickly after in hopes of finding a home without fear of the governing rulers mistreating them for their religious belief.

And while it is true that most of the original settlers of America were Christian it is inherently wrong to call America a “Christian Nation” or to say it has “Christian Roots.”

The original settlers were of very mixed backgrounds ranging from Protestant to Catholic to Lutheran.

Flash forward to the addition of the bill of rights to the constitution that includes Freedom of Religion as a guaranteed right and legal protection of every citizen in the newly created United States of America. A promise that there would be no official or instituted religion for the country and an assurance that one could practice their religion of choice, if any.

Religious freedom was intended to allow people to feel safe practicing their faith without fear of discrimination or persecution. It was not intended as a way for one to use their faith as a means to discriminate against other people.

President Trump’s executive order allowing people to withhold services or benefits on the basis of religious moral grounds is not a protection of religious belief, but the exact opposite. The intention is to allow Christians to act on their own belief system and attack people based on their own assumption.

It does nothing to protect people of Jewish faith, who have been experiencing increasing amounts of discrimination from Neo-Nazi groups across the country.

It does nothing to protect Muslim people who are currently struggling to even return to their homes from visiting overseas even though federal judges have blocked President Trump’s immigration ban.

The purpose of the religious freedom executive order is exclusively to empower Christians in their privilege to actively discriminate against people of their choice. Whether it be members of the LGBT community, women seeking sexual healthcare, or immigrants just trying to live their lives.

There is a popular belief among conservatives that Christianity is facing a war against the religion. Popular ideas of this are claims that creationism isn’t taught in public school and that there is no prayer time. Or that people cannot openly practice their faith at work or in public without being attacked for it. Which usually means being told they can't discriminate against people just because their religion says to.

Laws similar to this executive order have been routinely blocked across the country for being unconstitutional. Justices and Governors have recognized the laws as allowances of discrimination and not as protection of religious freedom.

Several states have passed religious freedom laws, however, to much controversy. Indiana is one of these states; where Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law, allowing business owners who oppose same-sex marriage to operate their business according to their beliefs and reject customers who they believe to be LGBT. Vice President Mike Pence is very well known for his stance opposing people who are LGBT. Particularly for statements he made in support of conversion therapy, or the belief that LGBT people can be convinced they are straight with aggressive therapy, a practice that boasts a 50% suicide rate.

The religious freedom executive order will likely result in a hate crime spike. Particularly against LGBT people and both Jewish and Muslim people. All of whom have been victims of increasing percentages of hate crimes since Trump became president elect in November.

 

​​Allan Hayes is a Politcal Editor at CSuiteMusic 
Read more of Allan's work at http://www.thatsoundsgay.com/
Follow Allan on Twitter @QueenAllan

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