If Right-Wing Christianity Is On The Decline, Why Am I Not Seeing It In My State House?

crowd Protesting Indiana's bad religious freedom bill
Crowd protesting Indiana’s bad religious freedom bill March 2015

We are on the cusp of probably seeing same-sex marriage bans joining school mandated prayer in the dust bin of history. The road from DC is looking like an end to religious privilege. The war has instead moved to the state houses around the country where the right-wing is doing all it can to deny basic human dignity and worth by forcing Christianity on the residents of their states.

In a Salon article, Evan McMurry, from AlterNet, detailed at least four areas the right-wing religious conservatives are flexing what muscles they have left:

The proportion of conservative Christians is declining in the U.S., yet right-wing lawmakers are flipping out. Legislatures everywhere are passing religious-minded bills likely to be struck down after costly legal battles, merely to prove their allegiance to the Christian right. From Bibles to vouchers to school prayer, here’s how they’re signaling their religious stripes, even as the electorate scurries away.

The most egregious example in recent years was Alabama’s 2014 bill requiring prayer in public schools. The bill set aside 15 minutes at the beginning of each school day to read aloud the prayers that open sessions of Congress. “If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don’t see why schools can’t,” one legislator said. (The Establishment Clause is the answer to that one.)

The bill was so ridiculous the committee had to pass it with a contested voice vote while some of the committee members were absent.

School prayer bills are often struck down, largely because they protect a right already guaranteed by the Constitution in a manner that seems to entail the state endorsement of a particular religion. In response, lawmakers have located a crafty workaround: school religious anti-discrimination laws. The bills take as their impetus cases, often anecdotal, of students being told they can’t make god the subject of assignments. The bills ostensibly would protect students’ ability to make explicitly religious material their subject matter.

4 ways American lawmakers grovel before the Christian right

The biggest issue that McMurry misses is abortion, where the religious right has focused a lot of energy to undermine current abortion rights with some trying to craft abortion regulations so bad that they want someone to sue in order to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade. (At least that is the plan).

In some ways, this legislative session is playing out exactly as experts in the field of women’s health issues expected. After the 2014 midterm election handed significant victories to abortion opponents, observers predicted that GOP-controlled states would waste no time figuring out how to tighten their abortion laws even further.

Nonetheless, reproductive rights supporters are frustrated with the wave of recent laws that dictate how abortion providers should do their jobs with little regard for the best evidence in the medical field.

“Politicians are not medical experts, yet politicians have written these reckless laws as part of a broader effort to end access to safe, legal abortion, plain and simple,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement this week. “Across the country, legislators are pushing laws that are opposed by the leading medical organizations for the sole purpose of shutting down women’s health centers and stopping a woman from getting an abortion,” Jennifer Dalven, the director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, added.

The New Extremes Of The Anti-Abortion Movement

Having to defend religious freedom in 50 states is a lot more work then having federal law or the Supreme Court do the job in Washington DC.

We need to stop these crazy laws before they get passed. We can’t sit back and hope a court will straighten things out. That’s how we got Burwell v Hobby Lobby.

If you want to help stem this tide of religious fundamentalism, find out if your state has any groups working to support church and state separation. Give them your time if you can and/or your money to help in the struggle.

Here are some group links to get you started:

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Secular Coalition for America

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Secular Majority


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