Militant Secularism, Atheism and Rising Legal Discrimination Against Christians

Martin Niemoller

Militant secularism is on the march throughout the Western world.

It began with court cases concerning what were clearly government entities in nature. The first court cases focused on things that were problematic.

It didn’t take long for these court cases to move past the clearly problematic to a frontal assault on any mention of faith in any guise in even the most quasi of public situations anywhere in the country. In a few years, it broadened to include attacks on Christian public officials, which I have experienced myself. Verbal hazing and hectoring became such a commonplace that many public Christians began to self-censor their remarks to avoid it.

The reason for this is that public life is difficult and insecure enough without adding extra problems to it. Public officials and other public figures get worn out from the constant harassment and misery of being attacked 24/7. Also, the use of slander and mockery, can, over time, destroy their reputations and make it impossible for them to do their jobs.

So, they backed down. They self-censored Jesus out of their vocabularies. It was easier to keep quiet about their faith than to take it on the chin, especially since most of the American Christian world was cocooned in a rock-a-bye world of their own and largely indifferent to what was happening.

However, public figures are not the only targets these days. More and more, the courts have become a means of harassment and oppression of Christians who are private citizens simply trying to live their faith in their private world. Thus we have bans on student-initiated prayers in school, censorship of religious viewpoints from valedictory speeches and, lately, the banning of Christian groups from college campuses.

It was and is the Martin Niemoller poem, coming to life again.

I wrote a post yesterday, Atheist Governments: Failed Experiments in Godless Goodness which referred to this situation. This post is an extension of that.

One of the more interesting examples of forced removal of Christian art from public grounds is the Soledad Cross. This cross was designed by architect Donald Campbell and is part of a memorial for war veterans.

Americans were outraged when Al Queda blasted ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan because they offended their religious sensibilities. But they do not see the parallel in the forced removal of religious art from public places in our own country at the behest of a well-organized movement of militant secularists.

Mt SoledadYou can find a list, of the cases the Freedom From Religion group in Wisconsin is involved in now on their website. I would guess that this list is relatively small compared to the numbers of threatening letters concerning Christian art, speech and actives that it churns out on what appears to be a continuous basis. The Supreme Court has ruled that historic monuments may be preserved, but there are no guidelines as to what constitutes a historic monument.

The deluge of court cases that are brought by a couple of groups and dumped on public entities, coupled with the threat of costly litigation, usually results in people backing down without a fight. This is using the courts as a club to bully and intimidate ordinary citizens into giving up their rights.

The ACLU has joined with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in some of these lawsuits. They have also filed suits of their own. They claim, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, that they are “defending” the Constitution and the American people from the dangers of statues in parks, plaques, and commentary in graduation speeches.

Both these groups often file lawsuits that are aimed, not so much at government policy, but the individual expressions of faith by government employees. They have worked assiduously to drive religion in general and Christianity in particular from the public square. In case after case they have filed suit against city parks, state governments, and courthouses all over the country. They have forced them to remove statues, and ban celebrations that smacked in any way of a Christian viewpoint.

You would think the mere sight of the Ten Commandments on a plaque was a threat to our liberty equal to say, banning prayer in schools, even when they are student-led, censoring personal religious comments out of student speeches or requiring college faith-based student groups to put atheists in charge.

Of course, that is exactly what has been happening in more and more places around the country. Here a few examples that I found of censoring student speech and attempting to force student religious organizations to admit unbelievers as members and leaders of their groups. I found these with a simple google search that took about 10 seconds.

Censorship of Christian’s Free Speech in Schools Christian’s Valedictorian Speech Censored by Principal District Pulls Plug on Speech  Attorneys Win Settlement in Cases Involving Censorship of Religious References from Valedictory Speeches Student Says Testimony About God Censored From Speech 

There are a number of cases of Christian student groups being kicked off college campuses because they refuse to put non-believers in positions of leadership in their organizations, or because they require that members be people of faith. There are many of these incidents. Some of them involve numerous press releases with denials and counter charges that go back and forth. However, I doubt that there would be any back and forth if the initial discrimnatory actions by the universities in question had not been taken.

Discrimination on College Campuses University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club Off Campus Campus Crackdown: Restricting Religious Freedom  Vanderbilt Christian Groups, Citing Religious Freedom, Follow Catholics Off Campus Rollins College Boots Student Religious Group Off Campus College Forces Christian Group Off Campus  Christian Groups Face Hostility on Campus  Universities Across Nation Kick Christian Groups Off Campus Christian Group Kicked Off Campus at Brown University 

If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. That’s one of the nifty little sayings pro-abortion advocates are fond of tossing around. However, in real life, they are using political clout with the president to create an abortion hegemony in which organizations, including the Church are forced to refer for abortions or be severely penalized.

The same kind of thing is at work with gay marriage. If you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t get gay married, the slogan goes. But Christian groups on college campuses are being penalized for following their faith concerning what is rapidly becoming a gay hegemony. At the same time, Catholic adoption agencies in many states have been forced to close because they will not place children with anyone except a married man and woman.

This is militant secularism run amuck. It not only violates the religious freedom of American citizens, it deprives orphan children of loving homes and trafficked women of the help they need to get out of that life and move forward. Here are a few examples I found, again, with a quick google search.

Direct Discrimination Against Churches and Church Ministries Illinois Catholic Charities Closes Adoption Over Rule  Same-Sex Law Forces Catholic Charities to Close Adoption Program Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Religious Freedom Discrimination Against Catholic Adoption Services  Oregon Catholic Charities Loses Grant Because It Will Not Refer for Abortion Kentucky Catholic Charities Shutters Aid to Traffickers Over Refusal to Refer for Abortion

 

I could go on with this, but I think I’ve made my point. The increasing harassment and move toward overt legal discrimination of Christians is so widespread and has been in the news so often that I honestly believe it is public knowledge. Anyone can find all the cites they want about it in a matter of a few seconds. I’m sure that what I’ve given here are not the best examples. I didn’t aim for that. I literally just took the ones at the top of the many pages of hits I got when I googled. They are also not meant to be comprehensive.

They are indicative. They indicate what is happening and why the concerns of Christians about the rise in overt anti-Christian activity on an official as well as a social level is well-founded. They also indicate a growing problem with how ideas like “inclusion,” “tolerance” and “equality” are being  codified and used to create enforcement that produces exclusion, intolerance and inequality for Christians.

  • Ted Seeber

    One answer to the Ten Commandments question that you missed:
    http://www.projectmoses.com/pm/index.aspx

    This effort seeks to place small plaques in individual homes, and use the sale of the plaques to place large monuments on the edges of church and synagogue property facing government property.

    The first month I am no longer Grand Knight, I’m going to volunteer to chair a committee to do that (as I go to a church *directly across the street* from a public school).

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Ted. I’m sure I missed a lot of them. This one is welcome.

      • Theodore Seeber

        After all, if the first time you encounter the ten commandments is in a courtroom then it is a pretty sure bet that one of them is the reason you’re there!

  • varados

    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.

    Auden

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I have no idea what you are trying to say. Can you try again?

      • Theodore Seeber

        I am not varados and do not play him on TV, but he may be referring to a phenomenon I’ve noticed- that truly militant atheists become so not out of reason, but out of revenge for sins done to them by theists.

        Same goes for many pro-choicers.

  • Indy

    http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2013/02/gresham_bakery_says_oregon_con.html

    A baker in Oregon is facing a lawsuit for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple.

    Thank you for another blog – keeping this issue on the front burner because it will impact us all.

    • Libertarian

      I don’t see the connection. I fully support a private business’ right to serve who they want and I also fully support secularism.

  • Andy Anderson

    That whole equality thing really chafes, doesn’t it?

    • Macumazahn

      Kinda fun watching them squirm.

    • Theodore Seeber

      No, because this isn’t equality. True equality would include tolerance for the intolerant. The militant secular atheists have no tolerance for anything.

      • Andy Anderson

        That’s incoherent.

        • Theodore Seeber

          No, just a paradox that I’ve observed. The more one goes beyond empiricism and objectivity into skepticism, the less tolerance one has for other points of view. Atheists in general are extremely intolerant of other points of view.

  • Greg Peterson

    I will literally fight to the death to defend your right to pray, worship, and enjoy religious art…on land you own. But we ALL do better-atheists and believers-when government is strictly neutral.
    And it’s “amok.” Don’t help feed the stereotype that persons of faith aren’t smart.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Sorry Greg, I just couldn’t resist this. In truth, I’m not much of a speller and when I get to typing rapidly, my spelling worsens. It’s from dictionary.com:

      amok  
      Use Amok in a sentence
      a·mok [uh-muhk, uh-mok] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      (among members of certain Southeast Asian cultures) a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder.
      adjective
      2.
      amuck.
      Idioms
      3.
      run / go amok. amuck ( def 3 ) .
      Also, amuck.

      Origin:
      1865–70; < Malay amuk

    • Theodore Seeber

      Actually, I believe we’ve done considerably worse with a neutral secular government.

  • Yvain

    Despite being atheist myself I agree with you about a few of these. For example, closing adoption agencies because of their beliefs seems horrible from any angle.

    But in other cases I don’t understand how the problem could be solved better than it currently is. For example, suppose a Muslim gets elected judge and wants to put a huge statue of the Koran in his courthouse plus a big list of Muslim commandments and use citizens’ tax money to pay for it. This seems like it would be a bad thing, and I would be against it. Even if he wasn’t actually going to use the Koran to make his judgments, it would give people the impression that he was, and make Christians – or Buddhists, or Hindus, or whatever – worried that they would receive unfair treatment.

    But if we ban that, then the Muslim judge could very correctly say “Well, you let the Christians do it, why can’t I?” Just saying “Okay, no one put up any religious art at all in public courthouses with public tax money” seems to me like a better compromise solution.

    You complain that the current situation creates “inequality for Christians”, and again, I agree with some of your other points, but “Muslims can’t put their holy book in courtrooms at taxpayer expense, and Christians also can’t put their holy book in courtrooms” seems more equal than “Christians can put their holy book in courtrooms at taxpayer expense, but Christians can’t.”

    I’m curious whether you agree that the Muslim judge putting big Korans in his courtroom might cause problems, and if so, what you think makes the Christian situation different.

    • Ted Seeber

      The one thing that really disturbs me is the inability to understand even basic theological prescriptions, rational or irrational.

      ” For example, suppose a Muslim gets elected judge and wants to put a huge statue of the Koran in his courthouse plus a big list of Muslim commandments and use citizens’ tax money to pay for it.”

      The only problem I have with such a concept (I’d even be for it) is that it violates the Koran itself. I actually do NOT think it would cause a problem other than the theological discontinuity.

  • Bill S

    The question to be asked is “what if tomorrow scientists came up with absolute proof that even believers could accept that the whole concept of religion was based on pure myth and there were no truth to any of it, wouldn’t some of the things being done against religion still be over the top?”

    I think that many of them would be. Freedom from Religion and the ACLU go too far. I signed up to receive emails on various civil liberties issues from the ACLU. After the first few, I have just scanned them and deleted them along with the requests for donations.

  • Libertarian

    If you don’t like secularism, move to Iran.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You probably agree with me more than you think. I also support secularism. I do not support secularist tyranny which seeks to silence, bully and remove competing ideas from the public sphere.

      • Andy Anderson

        Except of course for the fact that it isn’t happening as you claim.

        • Theodore Seeber

          See a few stories further on where some secular commentators suggest that gay marriage is so important that we should kick out all the chaplains in the military who hold to Christian Values and leave our soldiers without any actual spiritual guidance on the battlefield whatsoever.

          • Andy Anderson

            You must not have much faith in God if you think that chaplains are essential to spiritual guidance.

            • JoFro

              Essential? Yes, absolutely…so much in fact that they now even have atheist chaplains

            • Theodore Seeber

              I don’t see what faith in God has to do with simple observance of common human behavior.

    • Theodore Seeber

      The ironic part of that is since Iran denies Shariah Law, it is considered by Islamic scholars to be a secular government.

  • David J. White

    If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.

    And of course, the South’s position on slavery was the pro-choice one: if you don’t believe in owning slaves, don’t own one.

    • Andy Anderson

      That’s a rather odd comparison to make when the “pro-life” stance calls for a woman to cede control over her body to the State the moment she becomes pregnant.

      • Theodore Seeber

        No, it calls for a woman to become a MOTHER the moment she becomes pregnant- with the standard responsibilities and privileges such a vocation contains.

        The sad part is, the pro-choice side also has her being a mother- just a mother of a dead child.

        • Andy Anderson

          You’re welcome to define “mother” as ‘female who has ceded control over her body to the State the instant sperm and ova unite’, but that doesn’t really rebut my point at all.

          • Theodore Seeber

            No, I define a mother as “a female who has conceived a child”. State need not be involved, except to protect the interests of the mother and her child.

            I don’t need to rebut your point because your point is not rational.

        • pagansister

          Theodore, I know that you totally believe that a woman becomes a “mother” the moment she learns she is pregnant. However, in reality, there are actually women who have absolutely NO mothering instincts whatsoever—none, zero, not at all-nothing. The last thing they want to do is have a baby. (OK, then they shouldn’t have sex, but that is another subject). The fact that their body says they are pregnant doesn’t make those instincts automatically happen. To try and put it in your terms—–they don’t have a vocation to be a mother—-with the standard responsibilities and privileges. This is not exclusive to women who might be atheists, but to those who belong to, IMO, all faiths, Catholic included. Women, though the original, natural plan was for them to reproduce, there are those females born who have no desire to do so, and IMO, shouldn’t.

          • JoFro

            Then give the child up for adoption. Just because she has no mothering instincts, does not mean she must become a murderer of her own child

          • Theodore Seeber

            “However, in reality, there are actually women who have absolutely NO mothering instincts whatsoever—none, zero, not at all-nothing.”

            I am sure there are women who have been fooled into believing that, but if it was actually true, the species homo sapiens would have gone extinct 1.5 million years ago. The observed fact would indicate that the mothering instincts that seem to be missing, are, in reality, being modified by the environment, in particular the great amount of brainwashing currently going on against motherhood.

  • Bill S

    “I also support secularism. I do not support secularist tyranny which seeks to silence, bully and remove competing ideas from the public sphere.”

    I don’t support that either. We need competing ideas to be hammered out so we can reach either a consensus if we can or a compromise if we can’t.

  • Greg Peterson

    Rebecca, thanks! I much prefer correction to remaining wrong!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Me too.

  • Lee V.

    While you have your dictionary out, look up ‘militant.’

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      It’s ok in the head and the first paragraph. Where did I misspell it? I am REALLY busy, so I need you to help me, if you will.

  • DoctorD

    Oh, Boo-Hoo-Hoo. You poor discriminated-against christianists. The big-bad government won’t let you discriminate against whom you wish. “Boo-hoo. I have to provide complete healthcare for my female employees.” “Boo-hoo, I can’t shove my christian symbols and myths down the throats of my fellow citizens.”
    You arrogant fools.
    And I always love it when christianists jump on the Martin Niemoller bandwagon. You fools! He was imprisoned and tortured by his fellow German Catholics and Lutherans!

    • JoFro

      The only arrogant fool and most likely, the stupidest troll here, seems to be you ^^

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Martin Niemoller was a martyr. He was imprisoned and ultimately murdered by the Nazis for his resistance to their perversion of Christianity, take over of the German Church and use of it for propaganda purposes.
      His poem refers to the fact that he believed early on, as did many Christian leaders, that it was possible to find peaceful compromises with the Nazis. He was not a traitor to Christ, a failed Christian or a coward. He was simply, like so many Christians today, blind to the immensity and true evil of the threats that confronted both himself and the cause of Christ.
      Once he comprehended this, he reacted with a fortitude and courage that I doubt many of us have.
      He is someone we should all learn more about, because his courage and faithfulness is worth emulating and his mistakes are important for us to learn from.

      I wrote an earlier post about both Niemoller and Bonnhoeffer here.

    • Jack

      “Boo-hoo. I have to provide complete healthcare for my female employees.”

      Boo-hoo hoo you if you can’t shove your myths and symbols down the throats of Christians. It’s always funny when relativists complain about things.

      “He was imprisoned and tortured by his fellow German Catholics and Lutherans!”

      Of course relativists judge apples by oranges.

  • Graham

    This world operates on audacity.
    It has the audacity to declare itself a world, to assert that it is autonomous from its Creator, to deny any relationship to the very force that is continually bringing it into being every moment.
    One has to match audacity with audacity.

  • Bill S

    “This world operates on audacity. It has the audacity to declare itself a world, to assert that it is autonomous from its Creator, to deny any relationship to the very force that is continually bringing it into being every moment. One has to match audacity with audacity.”

    When you look at the Big Bang and the process by which we came to be, is that what you call the Creator? How does the world consider itself autonomous from that? The world as we know it is the end result of a process that took almost 14 billion years. I think the “Creator” you are referring to is the God of the Bible who also supposedly gave us morality. The world IS autonomous from that “Creator”. How could it not be?

    • Theodore Seeber

      “When you look at the Big Bang and the process by which we came to be, is that what you call the Creator?”

      No, that’s what I call engineering.

      “How does the world consider itself autonomous from that? The world as we know it is the end result of a process that took almost 14 billion years. ”

      Rome was not built in a day either.

      “I think the “Creator” you are referring to is the God of the Bible who also supposedly gave us morality. The world IS autonomous from that “Creator”. How could it not be?”

      Actually, no, I don’t think so. But this does lead to Einstein’s version of moral relativity.


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