Law professor Charles Silver has an excellent essay regarding the promotion of religion by government officials in Texas.
Rather than explain why their actions are unconstitutional, however, Silver takes a different approach. He talks about why promoting religion through the government makes Texas a less welcoming place for all those people who don’t belong to the majority faith (or any faith):
In Texas, public officials regularly use public funds and public power in ways that make non-Christians feel like second-class citizens who are not welcome, or at least, not equal.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton did this most recently by supporting the Brewster County sheriff’s effort to put Christian crosses on patrol cars. Before that, Abbott forced the removal from the Capitol of a properly permitted display erected by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that, he claimed, mocked the Christian faith. And before that, Abbott and Paxton supported the efforts of cheerleaders at Kountze High School to use banners to display Bible verses on the football field.
Eliminating public endorsements of religion would leave people free to display their personal support. At football games, students could wave religious banners while sitting in the stands. They’d just have to use their own resources to make them. Police officers could wear crosses around their necks. They’d just have to buy them themselves. And people would be free to take a knee and pray whenever and wherever they like.The only thing no one would be able to do is use public funds or government power to advance a religious cause.
That’s not what these Christians want. It’s not enough that they have every right to practice their faith privately (even in public spaces). They want the government to do their work for them. They want taxpayer money to be used to advance their faith — and they would be the first to complain the moment any other religion attempted to do the same thing.
The message is clear: If you’re not Christian, Texas doesn’t want you there. And if state officials think that’s unfair, they need to stop treating non-Christians as second-class citizens.
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