Protecting the First Amendment

It sounds like an episode of a game show.

american-flag-crossThe 535 men and women of the United States Congress were surveyed by the Pew Trust. 92 percent claimed to be Christians as¬†compared with 73 percent of the country. Add that to the fact that this is a GOP Congress and we will see challenges to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause in the coming months.

As Humanists, secularists and atheists we need to watch our elected officials closely to protect our constitutional rights towards the freedom to believe as we choose, to associate with who we choose and to elect our officials based on their character not their religious affiliation.

I have written extensively on the fact that the United States was not founded as a Christian nation, though many immigrants came to this country to escape religious discrimination. A Christian Nation? and The Clobber Passages examine these arguments in detail, from the founding of Jamestown and the Massachusetts Bay Colony to today’s arguments against marriage equality.

As activists in our respective communities, we are responsible for the oversight of our government’s actions. We need to be as loud as necessary to protect science and reason over mythology and “faith.” We need to protect our public institutions from the encroachment of religious dogma. We need to¬†protect our Constitution and the Bill of Rights which guarantee that the state will not support any religion.

We will see attempts to include a voucher system allowing the states to pay for private religious education. We will see attempts to further restrict a woman’s right to choose based on scripture. We will see attempts to reintroduce prayer to our public institutions. We are charged with stopping those attempts, and others, in their tracks.

You are reading this essay because you are active in your secular community. You know what your states are attempting to accomplish with 2015 proposed legislation. You are now charged with knowing what our federal government is doing to further restrict religious liberties.

The Constitution, our supreme governing document, tells us that no religious test shall be required to hold public office and that the state shall not support an established religion nor restrict the people of their personal faith.

The First Amendment was written to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. We must see that this law is followed not only to the letter of the law, but to its intent – Freedom of religious faith, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The 27 percent of non-Christian Americans will be looking to us for support and protection of their rights not to believe in the Christian gods.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place). He is the winner of the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing. He is also an editor and award-winning speaker. His book, "A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs" is available on Amazon, com as a paperback and eBook.
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