By Andrew L. Seidel
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Fox News is not known for its accurate reporting. One of their recurring segments, “The Fight for Faith,” is especially detrimental to their reputation for fairness. The segment often discusses what they call the “war on religion” or, more specifically, “the persecution of Christians.” There are instances of real Christian persecution around the globe, but no convincing instance here in the U.S. But that does not stop Fox News from claiming otherwise. In that segment, Fox News personality Elizabeth Hasselbeck highlighted FFRF’s victorious campaign persuading the U.S. Navy to comply with the Constitution by removing bibles from guest rooms at naval hotels.
Hasselbeck complained, “You know, in light of what’s going on in the world and the persecution of Christians right now, how close do we want to get to eliminating religious freedom in the globe? Particularly here.”
Let that sink in. “Particularly here,” in the United States, where the majority of citizens are Christian and where Christians are vastly overrepresented in the halls of power. Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS is actually persecuting non-Muslims, including Christians, forcing a real exodus (as opposed to the biblical myth). Hasselbeck and Fox News are giving the American Christian persecution complex a disproportionate voice, and they’re saying the wrong things.
Let’s be clear, removing Christian privilege so that our government complies with the Constitution is not persecution. Eliminating religious privilege is not the same as eliminating religious freedom. If “ministers of the gospel” get a tax break that is not available to anyone else, the government is correct to end that break. This is simply ending unconstitutional favoritism the government is showing towards religion, as FFRF’s successful lawsuit against the parsonage housing allowance has shown. This is not hostility, it is equality.
Christians: you may be used to a certain deference, but when the government no longer kowtows to your god—even if it does so because an atheist complained—this does not impinge your liberty. You may be inured to your undeserved benefits—but they are still unjust. You may be accustomed to a disproportionate influence with the government— but it is still improper.
Fox News: take note. Like the boy who cried wolf, claims of religious persecution will lose all meaning if “Christian persecution” is shouted every time an unfair Christian privilege is ended.
The days of Christian privilege are coming to an end. The atheists, agnostics, secularists, freethinkers—The Nones—are coming. We are not coming for your liberty; we are coming to end your unjustified privileges and buttress that all-important wall separating state and church. Stop crying wolf, if only because very soon you’re going to sound awfully hoarse.