The recent United Nations Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom became a continuing venue for President Trump and his Christian evangelistic coterie to manipulate the term “Religious Freedom.” Trump announced the formation of a coalition of U.S. business leaders meant to “encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.”
These words, of course, sound quite good for the concept of freedom and equality. Trump has proven he has no respect for words and their common meaning, however. He does have respect for application under global statements where he can create his own subservient purpose through a specific application. Religious freedom, as that term was originally used, was synonymous with freedom of religion, the basic right to choose which deity (if any) to worship. Our Founding Fathers in drafting the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights saw fit to leave that right of worship to the conscience of the individual mind.
However, President Trump with his Christian evangelical advisors, as they so often do on other issues, speak the words we can all agree with but in the application perform the opposite. The phrase “religious freedom” and its variation “religious liberty” have been hijacked and twisted from their original meaning into disingenuous code words referring to a self-drawn license to discriminate and control other people’s lives in the name of the Christian religion. These terms are now a euphemism for a mandate to control the thoughts, reasoning, beliefs and lives of others on a Christian fundamentalist framework through state and federal government support.
The use of these phrases, now, at least in America, is a manifestation of a persecution complex inherent in Christian religion. It allows the Christian perpetrators and advocates of intolerance and oppression to portray themselves as victims whose basic rights are violated by any movement of equal rights for other demographics, e.g., birth control, LGBTQ individuals being able to marry the person of their choice, health care or religious denial thereof, or be protected from workplace discrimination, women making their own decisions on abortion, transgender individuals living as their identified gender, unmarried individuals having sexual freedom, or students being forced to undergo intelligent design lessons, or participate in school prayer. “Religious freedom” as used by Trump and his base is less about advancing true freedom of religion and equality than about undermining these very principles as they pertain to others.
In 2016, under the Obama administration, the Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wrote in a government report that “the phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”
In 2017, the Trump administration designed a so-called “religious liberty” program through the powerful presidential executive order authority (he has used numerous executive orders to establish Christian supremacy through government control). Sure enough, the application of this “religious liberty” program uses the program for further entrenching Christian privilege and the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, women, and children in foster care and using government money to back it up.
Government in America whether state or federal should not be involved in religion. We should all be free.
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