Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go.
The Pilgrims did not come to this continent because of a universal principal of religious freedom or to inadvertanly plant the seed for a country tolerant of all religions where people could exercise them freely. They came to get away from everyone else so they would not be bothered by other people living by other religions.
They were officially Separatists, a name that does not in any way even hint at universalities, and describes a negative action or attitude. It was only the colony’s first on-land governor, William Bradford, whom referred to his group as pilgrims impkying they were going to a better place blessd by God.
Their lack of tolerance was illustrated immediately upon arrival by only allowing Separatists to sign the Mayflower Compact and benefit in any way from it while others had no choice but to be subjected to it, being able to live in the colony, but not benefit from its anticipated, but not forthcoming, commercial colonial enterprise profits, provided they did so according to the religious beliefs of the sect.
Well, okay, maybe not the Pilgrims, but certainly the Puritans held to the greater principle of universal religious freedom and a place to exercise it. Except, by the time they had started coming over here, the Puritans with Cromwell and all were pretty much in charge of the country and the religion of it, so there was no one they had to escape from to freely exercise their religion. They were, at the time, the religion.
If the founding of the country was, indeed, based on the principal of religious freedom, the Puritans would not have been so harsh to Quakers and other non-puritans, like those heathen Indians.
The Pilgrims did not come here for religious freedom unless it was theirs alone. The same with the Puritans.
However, over the years as politics melded to religion came into play creating a power structure, the best conditions in the country were unfairly divided between those in power and those not, and religion was a good unifying force for deciding who will get what with the advantage of having its own ultimatum for the faithful, “Obey now for a few years, or suffer later forever.”
Although originally hating each other, the various sects of Christianity saw that if they worked in unity, publicly putting aside their festering hatreds, Baptist vs Catholic for example, and claim that, because of the selfless Pilgrims, this is a Christian Country, this guarantees the right to behave however you want as long as you attach it to religion, but the right one at that.
Of course, this called for a little cross pollination, so the Judeo-Christian canard was invented to broaden the religious foundation claim to include anyone who believed in the God of that tradition, while ensuring that their role was one of convenience, more for the purpose of a reference to increase numbers with little respect for the actual beliefs of these fringe religious allies.
Numbers count for good statistcs
While claiming many actions that result in discrimination are based on religious freedom, it is obvious from such things as the Muslim Ban under Trump that there is a limit to who gets that freedom.
When my mother was attending Brookline High School in that section of Boston back in the 1930s there was a major fire that destroyed a large part of the building rendering it unusable. Brookline had at the time a very large Jewish community and one big Jewish Synagogue with a community center there offered space for use as classrooms. It bothered my mother that every morning after reporting to class the opening activities of each school day began with announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance and, what my mother saw as not a very polite way of thanking the Jewish community for their help, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer recited in a Jewish setting with Jews in the classrooms and other Jews going about the business of the community center.
She said she realized at that point that there was something wrong with this as it was one thing to force the Jewish students to stand in a public school classroom as those around them prayed to the Christian God in the name of the majority religion, but a totally other thing when you do this on their property that they had offered to ease a burden. If the Jews could adjust to the Christian prayer at schools they had to attend by law, the Christians could have adjusted to not saying the prayer until the school building was repaired and everyone returned to the status quo.
She saw her fellow Christians made very bad house guests.
This was a Christian practice that had become part of the unthinking fabric of schools.
Although a faithful but reasonable Catholic all her life, she never got over the assumption that one religion was the acceptable one to whom all others are just tolerations until they are needed.
Like with Black people and politicians.
Finally, as the claims of religious freedom become more strident and clearly only applicable to mainstream “Christianity”, other religions are calling out the religious freedom crowd for their selectivity as those laws being proposed to protect religious freedom favor Christianity while ignoring all other religions and making civil law answerable to one sect’s beliefs.
In the name of universal religious freedom, the exceptions from following existing laws and proposed “Biblically” based new ones, those promoting such laws see only through the lens of their own Christian upbringing and in practice clearly illustrate that, as with the Pilgrims, religious freedom is not universal but selective.
While evangelists started their crusade to make this a Christian nation, a quick review of the last 40 or 50 years will reveal how bizarre in retrospect what they got people to believe actually was and have built on that foundation to continue more overtly, most Americans wondered why, if there really were any good Muslims, they weren’t speaking out and working against the fundamentalist terrorists in both their more open physical attacks or the quiet insinuating of Sharia law into legislation and adjudication. The silence implied there could not be good Muslims.
Where are the good Christians speaking up now when people’s Creator endowed rights as humans and their civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution are being attacked in the name of one interpretation of a religion whose number of denominations and sects shows clearly that even within itself, Christianity is not a monolithic entity. If it were, there would be one church and one version of the Bible. The Good Christians and religious people of all religions should be speaking up unless, of course, the silence implies there aren’t any.
In the name of the free exercise of one’s religious beliefs, Florida’s new abortion law bans most abortions after 15 weeks with no exceptions for cases of incest, rape, or human trafficking.
After all, from a Christian standpoint, this is moral, so it applies to all.
Actually, this is religious tyranny- this imposing of Christian morality and Christian dogma on non-Christians- and someone is speaking out.
Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, a synagogue in Boynton Beach, Florida, has filed a lawsuit because the law is based on the assumption that a right-wing Christian demand for forced birth is universal morality when it is one religion’s belief and while subjugating the citizens of their community to a sectarian legal code.
The feared universal application of Sharia.
According to the lawsuit, the Florida law violates Jewish religious belief that an abortion is required to protect the health and mental or physical well-being of the woman.
Under certain Jewish beliefs, the fetus is a part of the mother and not a separate entity until first breath and a separate life begins.
The Florida law may contain certain exemptions, but these are not enough to allow the free exercise of the Jewish faith as the exceptions, as is the whole law, are based on the Christian religion making such a law a violation of the First Amendment as it favors one religion by codifying its beliefs and limits the free exercise of the Jewish faith or more widely any religion that does not share them.
The discussion about abortion involves strong theological disagreement among different faiths. Each religion’s adherents can follow or ignore their denominations beliefs and deal with the consequences, but having the state settle the religious debate by imposing the Christian theological view on all citizens through legislation so those who dissent from a church’s teaching face whatever its practices on earth and its threats in the afterlife along with punishments and fines in this existence.
It is legislated religious compliance.
As a civil country based on the Constitution, not the Bible, our laws should be religiously neutral without basis in religion.
Now we know there are some good religious people because at least one Jewish congregation has spoken up, so we have the Judeo part covered at least.
Now we need the Christian part to step up and tell its radical theocrats to knock it off.
Forcing Christianity on all a state’s citizens is un-American and un-Constitutional.
And at least one religious congregation is willing to say so.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.