Two recent church and state stories once again prove that some Christians in this country only believe religious freedom counts if you’re a Christian. Debate over a Defense Department budget bill in Congress and Hecklers at a Muslim Group’s Event In Tennessee shows there are still people on the wrong side of history. This is why we have to remain vigilant against attempts by bigots to violate the separation of church and state.
On Wednesday while Congress was debating a large defense authorization bill, an amendment was offered to allow non-theists to join the armed forces chaplaincy. The reaction from the Christian bigots was intense:
“They don’t believe anything,” groused U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas). “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it – your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food.'”
U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) chimed in with, “This, I think, would make a mockery of the chaplaincy. The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.'”
You would have to be a pretty lousy chaplain to say things like that to grieving family members. It would be akin to a fundamentalist Christian chaplain telling the mother and father of a fallen soldier that he is roasting in hell because he hadn’t accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
The amendment was voted down 43-18.
Americans United also pointed out other church state issues with the bill:
P.S. This bill is becoming a flashpoint for other church-state controversies. Yesterday there were two votes on provisions that threaten church-state separation. One centers on a so-called “conscience clause” that many believe would allow service personnel to harass gays and lesbians in the military and the other would permit chaplains to engage in coercive proselytizing.
On Tuesday there was a public discussion held on the Muslim faith and the First Amendment in Manchester, Tennessee. The event was interrupted by hecklers:
The event, sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council, also drew scores of protesters outside who began to yell “communist,” “socialist” and “Muslim” at law enforcement officials after the venue reached full capacity.
One protester in attendance disagreed with the two federal officials.
“I feel like (these) men are attempting to intimidate people with the freedom of speech and that bothers me,” he said, according to the Tennesean. “I would like to say that Muslims have a right to live here and worship freely, but I do not think they have the right to change American law to fit Sharia law. Violence no matter where it comes from bothers me.”
Yes someone was upset because Muslims were using their first amendment rights.
*Sigh* That made my head hurt. Not to mention the fact that Sharia law is a non-issue. The first amendment would prevent Sharia law just like it prevents a 10 Commandments monument on a court house lawn.