What About My Religious Liberties?

What About My Religious Liberties? August 28, 2015

This guest post is by Christian Chiakulas.

protect-religious-freedom

It’s hard being a straight, white man in America these days. All these social justice movements and not a one we can call our own. Being left out is hard, and everyone knows hurting a white guy’s feelings is the real racism.

So when I heard the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity (among many, many others) complaining about the “War on Christians,” I had my own little Road to Damascus moment and realized this is it — this is my persecution complex right here.

The folks championing their ridiculous war to save Christianity are closer to the mark than even they know. There is a war on Christianity in America, and hundreds of thousands of faithful Christians are being forced to live in a society that actively opposes their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

I’m talking, of course, about progressive and liberal Christians. See, we worship God by fighting for the vision of distributive social justice put forth by Jesus almost two thousand years ago.

Our God commands us to welcome the stranger into our lands, while many of our Republican politicians vow to deport these strangers with reckless abandon, even going so far as to shred the constitutional right to birthright citizenship for all people born on US soil.

Our God also cries out time and again for economic justice. Jesus himself arose from a class of disenfranchised people who were victims of a system by which the wealthy used usury and force to strip them of their land (the main means of economic production), forcing them into indentured servitude or worse, outright slavery. Now we are forced to watch as our money-worshiping culture and credit-based economic system do the same to millions of impoverished Americans while conservative politicians advocate policies that can only exacerbate the problem.

Our God commands us to be good stewards of Creation, yet we are helpless as our government is forced into an endless gridlock because most conservative politicians refuse to acknowledge Global Warming.

Our God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves and advocate for the least of these, but we struggle hopelessly against insurmountable pillars of oppression bred by centuries of straight-white-male-hetero-supremacy. Our black and brown, gay and lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters face unparallelled violence and economic oppression, yet efforts to effect meaningful legislative change are all too often blocked or halted to keep the current power structures intact.

Our God commands us to practice radical nonviolence; indeed, nonviolent resistance to oppression was literally the cornerstone of Jesus’s life. But again, we are stripped of a voice and forced to watch our tax dollars fund bombings, wars, and an endless military-industrial spiral that reinforces the oppressive structures of extreme economic inequality, racial discrimination, and dehumanizing violence.

Yes, there is most definitely a war on Christians in America, and I want to exercise my constitutional right to practice my religion free from interference. Since conservatives are so concerned with religious liberty, I will posit a list of exemptions I require in order to do so.

  1. I must be exempted from paying all taxes that will be spent on anything related to the military. You can add those onto my refund, if you like. The very concept of war runs contrary to what Jesus has taught us, so this is crucial.
  2. All deportations of people whom I personally invite to America must be postponed indefinitely. As previously mentioned, my God commanded me specifically to welcome strangers into my lands, and since I am an American citizen, I must be allowed the religious liberty to invite any strangers whom I see fit into these great lands. By the way, I would like to extend an open invitation to anybody in the world who wants to be a part of the beautiful land I call my home. Mi pais es su pais.
  3. Taxes must be raised dramatically on the wealthy. Wealth is considered extremely evil by my God, who went so far as to say that it was effectively impossible for a rich person to enter His kingdom. All the income generated must be used to fund social programs that benefit the least of these, including but not limited to: increased availability of SNAP and unemployment benefits, job training programs, free education (including higher), and urban renewal with a strong emphasis on resistance to gentrification and benefits for the people already living in affected areas.
  4. Drastic action on climate change must be taken immediately; the government must spare no expense in pursuing green energy solutions for all our energy needs.
  5. All efforts to criminalize or outlaw abortions, as well as efforts to restrict contraceptives, must be halted. My God is profoundly and inextricably feminist, and a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions are a part of that.
  6. All elections must henceforth be publicly funded and lobbying must be outlawed. My God brought His message to the poor and marginalized, and so their voices are as important as those of the wealthy (if not more). Our current system allows private interests to drastically influence the political process which consistently benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor. This is the type of system that my God came to Earth in human form specifically to rail against.

I know I’m asking for a lot, but conservative and evangelical “Christians” have dominated the cultural discussion for so long I feel it’s time for the rest of us to get our dues. We have waited patiently, watching our faith become twisted and evil, and now it is time for us to rise up as one and demand the religious liberties promised us in the Constitution.

One final caveat: in all cases in which ensuring my religious convictions are upheld would conflict with the religious liberties of the Christian Right, my religion must be given priority.

After all, it’s my religion.

 

Photo by Dan Wilkinson.


Christian ChiakulasAbout Christian Chiakulas
Christian Chiakulas is a writer and musician from Chicago. He studied writing at Columbia College and writes both fiction and nonfiction. He blogs on Patheos at Radical Christian Millennial. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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