Who owns religious freedom? : Christian fundamentalism can hinder progress, but cannot stop it | East Bay Express

As a keynote speaker at Notre Dame Religious Freedom Summit Conference in Rome last July, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said “religious freedom is under attack.”

Speaking at an earlier Notre Dame event, William Barr said it was an “assault on religion…not decadence: it is organized destruction.” When Barr and Alito, Roman Catholics, say religion, their concern is Christianity. They, along with evangelical ministers, regularly assert that their beliefs are under attack, that our modern society is decadent, and that the cause of our moral decadence is a decline in religiosity.

If this claim were valid, one would see moral decay associated with increased crime rates. But the data shows something quite different. As religious belief has declined, crime rates have also declined. And Denmark, Sweden, and other western democracies that are much more secular than the United States have much lower crime rates. The correlation may be coincidental, but statistics imply that crime and religious belief go hand in hand.

Few people would think that, but Freakonomics economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner argue for an indirect relationship. They show that the drop in the crime rate is a consequence of Roe v. Wade, which reduced the number of unwanted children who would have been more likely to wander off. Levitt and Dubner’s conclusion is controversial, but if correct, future generations will see an increase in crime, due to the Christian Crusade, which overthrew Roe.

But an even more compelling question is who is attacking Christianity? While neither Barr nor Alito provide an answer, hate crime statistics offer some insight. Fifty-eight percent of all hate crime victims were targeted due to racial bias, 20.1% due to bias against religion, and 16.7% due to gender discrimination. sexual orientation.

In the religion category, prejudice against Jews was highest at 60%, followed by anti-Muslims at 13%. Christian groups, including Catholics, Protestants and other Christians, make up 9%. Thus, of all hate crimes in America, crimes against Christians account for less than 2%. This is serious business, but while Jews are almost seven times more likely to be victims of hate crimes, it is Christians who complain. Shakespeare would think that “Christians protest too much”.

Yet, as Christians present themselves as victims, they have gradually gained power and influence. Six of the nine presiding justices of the Supreme Court are Christians. There was also a majority of Christian fundamentalists in the Trump administration: Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos, Attorney General Bill Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo , EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and Housing Secretary Ben Carson…the list goes on. Christians have never been more influential than they were in the Trump administration just two years ago. And Christians still dominate the Republican Party. Christianity is certainly not in immediate danger.

On the other hand, the number of people who identify as Christians is declining. Christianity, in particular fundamentalism, is threatened, not by a group of elitist liberals or by an organized conspiracy. Religion is threatened by progress, the advance of civilization and science, in particular the advance of secular humanism. Every generation in the United States is less religious than the previous one.

The Revolutionary War was much more than a rebellion against King George and repressive taxes. It was a hug from dearthquakesecular humanism and rejection of the oppressive collaboration between theocracy and monarchy that had dominated Western culture and denied individual freedoms for 1,000 years.

Secular humanism was conceived in the Enlightenment philosophy of the 17e century and realized in the creation of America, which rejected both religion and monarchy as the basis of government. Since the Revolution, individual freedom and human rights have been progressively extended, ending slavery, guaranteeing women’s right to vote, guaranteeing civil rights, allowing interracial and same-sex marriage and guaranteeing the rights of gay and transgender people. Rather than moral decline, secular humanism has generated a more just, inclusive society that recognizes that people are simply what the God of nature wants them to be.

Thinking Christians understand that while Christ’s teaching of love of neighbor is central to a meaningful life, fundamentalist worldviews are no longer relevant. The people have not gone astray; they found better ways to understand and deal with the complexities of modern society. Reason and facts have proven more effective than myth and mysticism. Prayer can offer hope and comfort, but modern medicine heals.

The success of secular humanism is further reflected in our increased understanding of the physical world and advances in technology. Our understanding of relativity and quantum mechanics as well as space exploration, the internet, and genetic science testify to the power of humanity’s ability to reason. Whatever one believes to be God, it is certain that mankind has developed, or received, a superior intelligence and the ability to reason, which we seem compelled to use.

Christian fundamentalism can inhibit progress, but cannot stop it. Banning books, covering up historical facts that make children uncomfortable, or requiring creationism to be taught along with evolution are wrong and futile. As John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” The facts supporting the evolution and the facts that led to the civil war will always exist. Germany is setting a good example. There, teaching about the Holocaust is compulsory. Teaching the history of slavery and our treatment of Native Americans should also be needed here. Americans can rightly be proud of our heritage and aware of our accomplishments and failures.

The Enlightenment philosophy inspired the founders, but they did not abandon religion. Many were Christians. And Christianity has had a positive impact on our culture. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, awakened our collective conscience to the atrocities of Jim Crow. But if Christianity is to be a force for good in modern society, it must come to terms with reality and our reasoned understanding of the modern world.

It may be wishful thinking. Today, white Christian nationals prefer to fight, openly opposing humanism. Despite a secular constitution, they falsely claim that America was founded as a Christian nation. They criticize Jefferson’s ideas about the separation of church and state, say our laws must conform to Christian teaching, and they work to restrict voting rights and individual liberties. But then, freedom, equality and democracy were never the goals of Christianity.

By opposing secular humanism, Christian fundamentalists are opposing what inspired the Founding Fathers and the founding of America. With their confused and misguided view of American history, white Christian nationals attack what they claim to save. They are on the wrong side of history, and there is no stopping progress.

Bob Topper is a retired engineer and is unionized by voice of peace.

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