Spooky in the South: The Hypocrisy of Religious Freedom in America

Spooky in the South: The Hypocrisy of Religious Freedom in America May 16, 2019

This post is going to be a little more political than ones I have previously written. As I live in “Sweet Home Alabama”, there have been some recent political issues that have been up for debate which I want to discuss, particularly the anti-abortion bills. Though not completely, the majority of abortion opponents in Alabama are Christian and tend to speak out against abortion from a Christian perspective by saying things like “abortion is a sin” and “it is an act against god’s creation.”

Must we abide by laws of a religion we do not believe in? The short answer is, NO. Photo by Niek Verlaan via Pixabay.

Now these arguments are fine for people who believe in Christianity, but where does that leave us Pagans and other non-Christians? When we have politicians fighting for the implementation of religiously based laws in America, what happens to the rest of us if these laws get passed? Is freedom of religion in America only reserved for Christians? Must we abide by laws of a religion that we do not believe in? The short answer is, NO.

Similarly, we ran into this problem with the decriminalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriages in the United States; we had dozens of politicians and activists arguing against homosexuality and marriage equality on the basis that it goes against “God’s law.” My sarcastic follow-up question to such a statement was always “Well which god? Because none of the gods I worship have an issue with same-sex marriage or the LGBTQ+ community.”

Again, we saw these same politicians fighting for the implementation of laws based on religious doctrine. Even though the first amendment of our Constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” we have one group of people trying to have the laws of their faith implemented by our country’s government, and forcing all citizens regardless of religion to abide.

Now I know that there are Pagans who may not personally agree with abortion or same-sex marriage, but the majority of us also believe in respecting the individual’s rights to live their life how they choose. We all should care about a Christian religious government in America, because it will eventually affect us. If we allow government control of one thing, such as abortion or LGBTQ+ rights, on the basis of religion then what is to stop them from going a step further and introduce stricter laws? For example, laws stating that non-Christians cannot be public about their faith, mandatory participation in a classroom prayer (which has occurred in past decades), or perhaps that all citizens must include “under God” when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Being Pagan means believing in freedom and diversity. Photo by Paul McGowan via Pixabay.

A person practicing their faith the way they wish is a great thing, so long as they do not attempt to force others to also abide by their faith. I do not know about some of you, but I will be damned before I allow my government to tell me how I pray to my gods and goddesses, or that I must pray to someone else’s god. Being Pagan means believing in freedom and diversity. Our ancestors were persecuted, forcibly converted, and even killed because they refused to submit to another’s god, so are we really going to sit idly by and let history repeat itself?

Make no mistake, these anti-abortion laws being passed are based in religious doctrine and propaganda. Are we going to let them implement a religious government which condemns all those who do not abide by that particular doctrine? No! So I speak to all of you now, we have worked so hard to gain the rights we have today, so do not let them undo what has been done.

About Sarah Franklin
Sarah Franklin is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with a degree in public health. She runs a religious organization at UAB called Path of the Ancient Ones, which provides religious education and guidance to those seeking it. She has spoken on Interfaith panels in Birmingham and works to build bridges between religious communities. You can read more about the author here.

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