The Necessity of Secular Governance

I disagree with you. So does most of the world. I can make these claims without knowing any of your actual beliefs because it is almost entirely certain that you and I disagree about at least one thing (probably many more than one). How comfortable are you with the idea of my creating laws that mandate behavior in accordance with my arbitrary whims? In terms of religion, how comfortable would you be with the suggestion that prayer in public should be made illegal?* I assume you feel some discomfort at this—at the very least, the idea should unnerve you. Intertwining religion and government is a universally bad idea. If government has the power to mandate prayer, it has the power to prohibit it. When a government takes a stance to promote one person’s religious practice, it is acting against the religious liberty of everyone else.

Many believers think this is a good thing. I do not because I have no interest in living in a theocracy. Theocracies are inherently discriminatory and oppressive, and anyone who attempts to introduce theocratic legislation into a secular government clearly has no interest in democratic principles. Case in point:

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” [Louisiana Representative Valarie Hodges] said Monday. “I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.”

* * *

Of course, parents have always had this option. Parents can choose to send their children to religious schools (has she never heard of Catholic schools?), but the law does not permit tax money that is allocated for education to be spent on subsidizing religious education. What Hodges is actually talking about is a bill designed to redirect public funding away from public schools and into private schools—including religious ones—using a voucher system. This bill was passed with unanimous support, but shortly thereafter, Hodges same legislator publicly withdrew her support of the bill. Why? Because it would have allowed money to go to non-Christian schools.

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

Radical Christian schools? Great. Radical Muslim schools? Terrible.

Theocracy. This kind of reasoning is in direct opposition to constitutional democratic principles. This kind of person has no business making policy decisions.

What’s even funnier is that not only is she apparently profoundly ignorant of the US Constitution, she’s also profoundly ignorant about its original authors. These gentlemen most certainly did not share the same religion, and indeed, many of them were quite hostile to the idea of incorporating religious doctrines into the government.

Perhaps this stunning display of ignorance shouldn’t be so surprising, however, coming out of a state that ranks so incredibly poorly in its quality of education, especially given the frequency with which Christian propagandists work to distort the truth in an attempt to sell more books. (Including the Bible, of course.)

I look forward to watching the agonizing death of this law Louisiana law, to say nothing at all about the political careers of those who advocate for it (and other similar laws). Well, maybe I will say just a little bit because I can’t seem to help myself: a felled and rotting tree would pass better legislation than nincompoops like this.

As a nation, we seem to regard education only as an afterthought. Perhaps it’s because we have role models like this? The fetishization of ignorance needs to stop.

If legislators are going to pass laws that benefit Christians over Muslims, what’s to stop them from passing laws that benefit Baptists over Episcopalians? And then Southern Baptists over other Baptist denominations? Thankfully, this discussion will ultimately be moot because of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government legislation regarding religious beliefs. Sadly, there are still people trying to circumvent the Constitution to force their ridiculous beliefs on the rest of the country.

It’s frankly absurd that any of this even needs to be said.

 
* Just for the record, I would never advocate this. I mention it here only for the sake of argument.
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