Monday, August 13, 2012

Tea Party and Religion.

I often hear from Tea Party fans who like to say that their concerns are only fiscal and they are not concerned with social conservative or religious issues.  Now I have my disagreements with some of their fiscal ideas but I am more concerned with the question of their position on church state separation issues.  It turns out the official tea party website actually published a statement on religious liberty.  Statement on Religious Freedom.
At the risk of offending anyone I am going to make the following statement.   The United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and is indeed a Christian nation.
This statement is not intended to imply that other religions are not welcome to worship freely in this country but when those who worship any non-Christian religion do so with
a) the intent to attack those of other faiths or
b) when their intent is to deprive those of other faiths their right to worship as they please or
c) when they form in communities with the express intent to not assimilate and
d) when they demand exceptions to state or local laws that would allow them to deny freedoms to their own community that are contrary to our Constitutional protections
we must consider whether their place of worship should be allowed to remain. 
So this is the first part of the statement, you can follow the link to read the rest.   So the first thing we notice is that they explicitly state that this is a Christian country in direct contradiction to the actual history, so not off to a good start.  However to be fair his next line does say that other religions are welcome to worship freely here so that is good.  I also agree with all of the bullet points he lays out save C, which seems a bit Jingoistic in my opinion.  The main problem is the section in-between the two.  Namely, this point:
those who worship any non-Christian religion do so with
See, when they puts these bullet points forward they specify religions that are non-Christian.  This is an odd choice, it begs the question why they didn't think Christianity needed to be included.  Do they believe that Christians never violate these rules, or do that think these rules don't apply to Christians?  They don't specify, but I'm less concerned with their intent and more with the realty we would end up living with if this was actually the way our government ran.

The last line here asks if we should allow non-Christians to remain if they violate the previous rules, and while I agree that people who violate other peoples personal liberty should be punished to the extent the law allows, we need to make sure that:
  1. We don't persecute an entire group simply because the person who broke the law happens to be part of that group.
  2. The group that enforces those rights remains neutral on the topic of which religion is correct.
In my opinion this article fails both of these tests.  It fails the first one because they suggest that the government should prevent certain religious groups from freely operating in the U.S.  Of course they aren't speaking about atheists here, the rest of the article makes it clear they are mostly referring to Muslims.  Now I think I have always been clear on my stance towards all religions including Islam, but I would never prevent anyone from practicing their religion and I would never assume that all Muslims are terrorists.

They also fail on the second point since by their initial statement they believe that the government is a Christian one, making it no longer impartial.  Further, as the government is the one making the decisions about whether "their place of worship should be allowed to remain."  The rights of non-Christians become nothing but a privilege we are allowed because we haven't done anything to make the Christians perceive us as a threat, because, as they said, it's a christian country, they are the ones in charge.


  1. I suspect that any religion, other than the TP version of Christainity, would be considered to be "attacking" if they dared to try to convert people. I also suspect tht "worship as they please" means "get their own way in every possible situation to the exclusion of everyone else". And it's always fun to see that the Amish would run afoul C) and D).

    If the US was a "Christian nation" one would think that the Constitution would simply read "see bible". However, it doesn't, and I would suspect the reason to be that the Founding Fathers knew that even Christians can't agree on what it "really" says. They depended on secular laws, not the primitive tribal nonsense the bible spews.

  2. You bring up an interesting point. You mention the "TP version of Christianity" and I think it is worth pointing out there are a lot of Christians who understand church state separation and support the idea of a secular government. I imagine they would find themselves left out in the cold in this version of America as well.