The headline told the entire story: “Atheist Receives Death Threats After Ten Commandments Decision.”
The story itself is quite simple. An atheist family, with the support and assistance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, successfully filed suit against a Pennsylvania public school district to have a six-foot tall monument of the Ten Commandments removed from school property. That should be big news for those who believe in the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause.”
The lawsuit, which took almost four years to transit the court system and another six months of negotiations with the school district, requires the school district to relocate the monument to another location and pay legal costs of $164,000 based on a simple premise that a government, local, state or federal, cannot support or establish a religion.
The bad news is that the plaintiff, Marie Schaub, and her daughter have received death threats from their “loving” Christian neighbors who proclaimed that Ms. Schaub should be “dragged in the street and shot,” and that the family should “leave the country.”
It is important to note that it was not those of the Jewish or Muslim faiths who threatened the Schaub family, but Christian activists, the men and women who believe in their “loving god” yet do not convey the same beliefs when it comes to their fellow human beings.
I find the same sentiment from conservative Christian activists who read my weekly column in the Columbia Missourian (Missouri). In cases where I defend the First Amendment in terms of freedom of religion and the prohibition to support or establish a religion, I received negative and sometimes threatening responses. It is a testament to the intolerance of the conservative Christian movement has to other beliefs and those who do not believe.
It shows that the Christian right is becoming more fearful that they are losing ground in the discussion of religious supremacy, thus resorting to violence and threats. They do not and cannot accept that 25-percent of the population of this country are not affiliated with any single religion and that close to nine-percent claim to be atheists or agnostics. That another five to seven percent are of faiths other than Christianity.
They cannot accept that the United States was not founded on Christian principles but on the principle of religious freedom, that New York City in 1776 had over 40 religions represented, including Muslim, Jewish and Hindu.
The Mayflower Compact, written on the Mayflower prior to landing in the New World, stated clearly that the new colony was to “Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”
Evangelical conservative Christians believe that because they believe in their god (or gods, depending on how you count) they are superior to others who share this great land. That they can threaten and curse those who believe differently without retribution.
We must stand together to resist such threats and to support those as Marie Schaub who are brave enough to fight for the religious freedom established in our Constitution.