Free Rein to Proselytize

Free Rein to Proselytize July 7, 2013

Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist has his eye on Mississippi because we’re such a poster child for religious privilege.  Few states push evangelical faith on their residents through official government institutions quite like we do (Oklahoma sometimes may be a close second), as evidenced by a new law that went into effect just a few days ago.  In effect this law says that schools must provide a public forum within which students can freely express their religious views at any and all school events.  This goes quite a bit beyond simply ensuring a protection of the right to lead public prayers at school events.  It gives free rein for students of any religious persuasion to express their views for the whole school to hear.

The catch to this, which Hemant pointed out in his earlier post about this, is that any student can take advantage of this new law, regardless of their religious affiliation.  That means that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists must be allowed the same privilege or else the new law has been broken.

Now, as a resident of the Magnolia State, I know good and well that the politicians who were pandering to their base with this poorly conceived violation of the Establishment Clause didn’t take the time to think through this very well, and that they assume it will only be used by Christians to advance the cultural hegemony of their own brand of religious belief.  But that’s not the way this works.  You see, this law ensures that any atheist or humanist or Muslim students who want the same opportunity to address their student body must be afforded the same privilege or else the new law is violated.

So let this be a challenge to any students who come across this piece of news:  Take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate what this law is offering, and demand that all students be afforded the same privilege, regardless of religious affiliation.  It’s the only patriotic thing to do  :-)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I wonder if these kinds of poorly-written laws that are sure to be struck down later are intentional. Since the school district and/or public education department of the state is going to have to foot the bill when it gets sued, could it be that the reason for writing the law is to drain the coffers of the public school system and transfer the money to the lawyer friends of the legislators? The lawyers can use their earnings to send their kids to private, Christian schools, and the school district will have less money for actually educating the students.

    I predict that the plaintiffs will be right-wing Christians who are mad when a non-Christian takes advantage of the law. They will trot out “Lemon” and all the other previous case law that they decried in the past.

    Anyone want to make a bet?

  • This is just wrong and yet aesome to see the Christians crying, actually to see all religions crying.

    My guess is this law will be scrapped as soon as the first non-Christian wants to present something and gets told they cannot do it. But again how can this be happening in the first place as is it not a violation of church and state?

  • steve

    I wonder if these states realize they are shooting themselves in the foot and limiting job growth? I was on a committee looking at expanding a new firm that was seeing remarkable growth (it was about 500 then and is over 6000 five years later). Very high paying jobs, but the senior management was looking for low costs and tax benefits and were being actively courted by many states. The extremely red states were crossed off the list as most of the employees were under 35 and it was felt these states were too anti-women and too Christian only to attract the base needed. In the end the decision was made to go to San Diego even though the expenses were high and the state offered no tax benefits. Attracting and keeping the best employees was too important.

  • But that would mean that they have to think about religion and that never happens.

  • Donald Butts

    The one problem that the ability of students of other religions to have their say is the risk of derision, acts of vandalism, even violence against the brave students who take advantage of this opportunity by the Christian students. We know how un-Christ-like Christians can be.

  • Bruce Heerssen

    In politics, it’s easy to be cynical. Certainly cynicism is called for, but one must be careful not to read too much into it. I don’t think money itself played much role. It’s not about who gets paid this time. Instead, it’s just an easy issue for politicians to demagogue for political gain, and never mind the consequences or the cost to the taxpayer. There’s not really a downside for a conservative politician with this issue. Especially in Mississippi.

  • Empire1432

    My father had to move to Louisiana for relocation with his company, and he has hated every minute of it down there. He tells me all the time how the people down here in general are some of the most backwards minded people he has has ever me. He is so glad he is retiring soon so he can move back north.