All of the Republican candidates for president talk endlessly about “religious freedom,” but as usual what they really mean is Christian privilege. John Fea, an evangelical Christian historian from Messiah College, points this out in a post at the History News Network about the obvious disconnect between their rhetoric about “religious freedom” and their proposals for banning Muslim immigration and closing mosques.
In the wake of the recent murders in Paris at least two GOP presidential candidates—Donald Trump and Marco Rubio—have said that American mosques should be shut down because they pose a security risk. The assumption is that mosques serve as breeding grounds for ISIS, the Jihadist extremists who claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and who have targeted the United States.
Last week Donald Trump said that the United States “will absolutely have no choice” but to close down mosques where “some bad things are happening.” Marco Rubio called for the closing of any place where “radicals are being inspired,” including mosques. Other GOP candidates have not been as overt as Trump and Rubio, but their attacks on the Muslim community in America, and their willingness to conflate all Muslims with ISIS, has been made abundantly clear.
I am sure that Trump and Rubio realize that the closing of mosques, or any other religious institution or place of worship, is a direct violation of the religion clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Not only are Trump and Rubio calling for the prohibition of the free exercise of religion among Muslims, but they are also implying that the United States is a Christian nation that has the right to threaten the right of non-Christians to worship freely. In other words, they are violating both the free exercise clause and the establishment clause…
As the beliefs of traditional Christians continue to be challenged by the so-called “secular progressives,” more and more religious liberty cases will be brought before the courts. But if the Christian Right is going to defend religious liberty, as they do every day on the campaign trail and in their various summits, conferences, and news outlets, they must be consistent.
The view of religious liberty currently espoused by Trump, Rubio, and others is just a new way of saying that the United States should be a Christian nation. They want to defend the rights of Christians to practice their faith freely and without government intervention, but want to deny the same religious liberties to Muslims by closing their mosques.
It is time to stop the hypocrisy.
Of course it is, but it won’t stop. It’s too convenient politically to let go of.