This story pretty much encapsulates what makes Right Wing Christians dangerous to our democracy. They truly believe that their freedom to worship means the rest of us have to step back and let them impose their version of Christianity on the nation.
A Florida chaplain on Thursday accused a secular group of trying to turn him into an atheist because he was no longer allowed to pray with students at high school football games.
After receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Orange County public school district recently ordered school leaders to ban chaplains from conducting school-sanctioned religious services.
During a Thursday interview with Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Pastor Troy Schmidt explained that he used to pray with football players at Olympia High School until the district banned him.
“Well, I don’t think they’ve read the Constitution,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that they cannot prohibit my free expression of my faith or the free expression of the coaches to express their faith. They’re telling us to be atheists, when we want to say this is what we believe. And we want to express it freely like the Constitution says.”
Like the Constitution says.
You and I and James Madison might look at the Bill of Rights and not find where it says the right to turn public, secular events into specifically Christian religious services shall not be abridged. But Right Wing Christians find it right there in the first amendment where it says “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. Congress, by the way, has been making no such laws, and would much rather make laws that require the forced exercise of religion. It’s the Supreme Court that’s been not making such laws but preventing de facto establishment of such laws by the majority imposing its religion on minorities, but never mind. The point is that clearly Right Wing Christians like Schmidt think their free exercise of religion is “prohibited” by their not being allowed to pray in public and coerce others to pray along with them.
Of course, Jesus said something very specific about praying in public, but Christians have never been much interested in what Jesus himself said about anything, which is odd, considering how Jesus-centered they think their faith is.
Again, never mind.
They feel their Constitutional rights are violated when they are not free to violate the Constitutional rights of anybody and everybody who doesn’t adhere to their version of Christianity, when they are not free to do whatever they believe their angry, vindictive, capricious version of God wants them to do, like force other people to pray in public along with them, but also deny gay people the right to marry whomever they love, deny them the right to live open, whole, shame-free normal lives, deny women the right to make their own decisions regarding their health and their bodies, deny other people’s children the right to a real education teaching them actual science, history, and art, and deny their fellow Americans who aren’t also their co-religionists the right to worship as we see fit or not worship.
It should be “freedom of worship.” Which is slightly different, putting the emphasis on belief over practice.
We’re all free to believe what we choose to believe. Putting those beliefs into practice is where the trouble begins, because whatever we do in public affects others around us who probably don’t want to be affected. You go your way, and I’ll go mine is a lovely sentiment but in practice we might find that your way and my way are taking us through the same narrow doorway at the exact same time and we’re going to collide.
At any rate, the proper phrasing for liberals and the liberal-minded should be freedom of worship. It would be ironic, though, if Right Wing Christians said it that way.
The phrasing is FDR’s.
It’s one of his Four Freedoms.
Quoting Roosevelt is just as unthinkable for them as quoting Jesus.
Read all of David Edwards’ story, Florida pastor lashes out at atheists because he wants school prayer ‘like the Constitution says’, at Raw Story. I like how Schmidt seems to believe that not being allowed to pretend to be part of a high school football team by praying with the players before the game will turn him into an atheist, as if it takes to be an atheist is to go on about the business of enjoying ourselves at a football game without acting as if God’s taking a rooting interest in what happens under the Friday Night Lights.