Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Defending the Rights of Christians

This post is going to lack any type of narrow topic and is basically going to be stream of consciousness.  There isn't going to be any type of argumentative structure nor particular focus (just as a warning).  The very, very general topic today is, "Defending the Rights of Christians".  I often hear Christians talk about how they are "oppressed" or, more commonly, "persecuted".  You are a majority, and, no, you're not persecuted.  Just because there are restrictions against you (i.e. prevention of making the United States a "Christian Nation", prohibiting state endorsed prayer in schools, etc.) doesn't mean you are persecuted.  Every other religion has to follow the separation of church and state laws; Christians are no exception.  I hear the "Atheists/Secularists are taking prayer out of the schools!  My child can't pray in school anymore!" banter frequently.  First of all, if the state told your child they could not pray in school anymore, I would be actively fighting for your child's right to pray in school.  I am not, in any way, shape, or form, opposed to your right to pray whenever you want to (with the exception of someone leading a prayer if they are a governmental representative acting with their official title and not as an ordinary citizen).  Prayer is not taken out of schools, but rather school lead prayer is prohibited.  If the school (excluding private schools) lead a prayer, being a government organization, they would be endorsing religion which is a violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States' Constitution.  I have no problem with your child praying (so long as they don't interrupt class) or with your child leading other compliant students in a prayer.  However, the teachers, administrative personnel, and other government employed persons are not allowed to lead a prayer.  I am not saying these people can't pray to themselves during school or conduct religious practices in a public place outside of school grounds, but while they are working they cannot endorse a religion.  Although I think the Bible is a horrible book; although I think the cross, being a torture device, is a creepy symbol for Christianity; although Christians hold unfounded, uncritical, unsupported beliefs; I would never advocate banning Christianity or trying to restrict the rights of Christians in any way.  I believe this is one of the largest misconceptions about atheists.  Most atheists wouldn't advocate banning Christianity, we think you have the right to believe whatever you want to believe.  Just extend that courtesy to us atheists as well.  Anyway, that's all for my initials thoughts on the matter.  Please, please, please e-mail me at brbailey@umd.edu if you have any questions, comments, disagreements, or suggestions!  If you would feel more comfortable, leave a comment below!  Have an awesome day!       


  1. You have a much better grasp on the American principle of separation of church and state than do most Christians these days. For much of their 400-year history, most all Baptists (for almost two centuries persecuted by colonial theocracies in America) would have agreed with your stance. But today, too many have forgotten their faith heritage and are far too focused on their own "rights."

    Bruce Gourley
    Baptist History & Heritage Society

  2. I used to be Southern Baptist and we all tended to take the whole "persecution" thing way seriously (almost to the point of making up things to be persecuted about--case in point, "OMG I went to biology today and the professor was talking about evolution! I'm soooo persecuted."). A mantra that A LOT of the church staff repeated to us was "if people hate you then you're doing something right."

    You can blame it on John 15: 18-20, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours."

    I agree that if you stand up for something (anything), there are always going to be people who disagree with you... but as they are prone to do, a lot of Christians go overboard to try and "be persecuted." Hope that made sense, haha. :]

  3. "...as they are prone to do, a lot of Christians go overboard to try and 'be persecuted.'" It is really confusing to me how a majority opinion whose holders also hold most of the seats of power in the United States can be "persecuted". Even I wouldn't make the case that atheists are, in a general sense, persecuted.

    "OMG I went to biology today and the professor was talking about evolution! I'm soooo persecuted." I'm curious The Southern Belle (I am interested in Dr. Gourley's opinion on this question as well), what is your experience with those who do not accept evolution as a theory? I'm wondering what types of beliefs your specific church had about science education, evolution, and criticisms.