Today was declared Religious Freedom Day by POTUS. But in so doing, he really declared 16 January as “Christian American Preference Day.” To understand his real declaratory intent, we need only look at his last paragraph in which he says, “I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen…”
“In the year of OUR Lord?” Whose lord? The lord of the Shia Muslims he pretends to defend earlier in the document? Jews? Buddhists? Certainly not atheists.
The entire proclamation is typical of the cognitive dissonance we see every day on cable news and is satirized on every late night comedy show. Early in the statement, he dares quote Jefferson’s words “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” But then he ENLARGES the views of those that see 2018 as ‘The Year of Our Lord,’ i.e., Christians only.
He wants us to celebrate diversity, but in the next paragraph advocates for tax-subsidized religio-political discourse from the evangelical pulpit. Next, he advocates public market discrimination and the kind of hate and division that no lover of liberty and equality can condone—Christian, Muslim, or Humanist—when he (ie. his ghost-writer) says, “No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.” That’s simply disingenuous because you cannot violate the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of other individuals, and the lawful legislation in place to protect them just to satisfy your own private religious conviction. If that were the case, we’d have social anarchy, as atheists refused to teach Christian children in public schools, Muslims refused to serve non-Muslims in their state-incorporated restaurants, and vegetarian Hindus and Buddhists refuse any interaction with omnivorous fellow citizens.
I agree with him that the US is the primary defender of religious freedom around the world, but that is only possible if we in fact guarantee those same freedoms at home. As he sounds the dog-whistle of Fundamentalist Christian Dominionism and dominance with this bizarre proclamation, many of those that serve in his military grow even more fearful of expressing anything but mainstream Christian belief. They see his message as a call to exercise their private, highly prejudicial religious views in even the military workplace, promoting the like-minded, selling more tickets to the upcoming National Prayer Breakfast, and squelching any real religious diversity among the ranks.
I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s what I’ve seen in the military for over 30 years, however cloaked and unspoken. The fear now, as we proclaim National Religious Freedom Day, is that POTUS has declared open season on non-Christians, granting de facto “Freedom” to those that would discriminate on religious grounds, enlarging their views in direct conflict with the beauty of Jefferson’s words.
Thanks for your continued hard work in the defense of true freedom, equality, and the rights of ALL in our military.
A 30-year Active Duty Air Force Officer and MRFF Client (name, rank, AFSC, military unit and assigned base all withheld)