Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Christians Have No Concept of Religious Freedom


In a recent Senate confirmation hearing for one of Trump's political appointees, Bernie Sanders questioned the nominee about his vocal support for religious-based discrimination against non-Christians.  After receiving no assurances from the nominee that he would leave his hateful opinions behind while serving in an influential position in the federal government, Sanders said that he wouldn't support the nominee's appointment because he was "really not someone who this country is supposed to be about".  Queue the predictable Christian outrage against Sanders for his suppression of religious freedom.

The nominee is Russ Vought, and he was being confirmed for the position of deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, which plays a key role in formulating and implementing the president's objectives, priorities and policies.  Vought had made his discriminatory views public a year earlier in an article he wrote expressing support for Wheaton College (his alma mater) seeking to fire one of its tenured professors, Dr. Laryca Hawkins, for holding the heretical view that Muslims worship the same God as Christians.  In this article, Vought states his belief that Muslims (and other non-Christians) don't know God, and stand condemned for their rejection of Jesus Christ.  So in Vought's view, not only is it acceptable for Wheaton to have a litmus test for its faculty requiring them to be Christian, but they should also be prohibited from expressing views that are in any way favorable toward other religions.

To anyone who isn't a Christian, including Bernie Sanders, Vought's views are odious - not because they express Christian belief, but because they are bigoted and discriminatory.  Sanders is quite right to be concerned about a person with such views serving in an influential position in government.  If Vought's views are put into practice in the federal government, what is the implication for Muslims, or Jews, or anyone else who doesn't share Vought's religious beliefs?  The US constitution mandates that there be no favored religion, and no religious litmus test for persons holding office.  He questioned Vought on the discriminatory views that he had publicly stated.  A video and transcript of their exchange in the confirmation hearing are included in this article by Daniel Davis.  You will note that Sanders said nothing against Christianity.  He did not attack Vought for being a Christian, but he is concerned about the religious freedom of all citizens, and only questioned Vought about his discriminatory views. 

But Davis (along with many other Christians) has twisted reality to make it seem as if Sanders is the one who is being bigoted.  Vought answered practically every question Sanders asked with "I am a Christian", rather than responding to the substance of the question.  In this manner, he managed to make it sound as if Sanders was attacking Christianity.  But Sanders never asked him what his religion was, and he certainly didn't say anything that could be viewed as anti-Christian.  That is, unless you have an agenda of vilifying your political opposition, as Davis seems to.  His article is full of lies and distortions.  He claims that Sanders was subjecting Vought to a religious litmus test, which couldn't be further from the truth.  He claims that Vought was attacked for his religious views about hell and condemnation, but completely ignores the fact that it is Vought, not Sanders, who supports religious discrimination.  And then he makes the most startling claim of all:
And with that brush stroke, Sanders excludes historic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam from the public square. - Davis
In a remarkable reversal of truth, Sanders, is accused of being against the very people whose religious freedom he was valiantly trying to preserve - the same people whose religious liberty is under threat from the likes of Vought.  Davis, following in the footsteps of Trump, is trying to create an alternate reality where up is down, where the truth is a lie, and lies are the new truth.  And in this alternate reality, religious freedom consists of the ability of Christians to freely discriminate against everyone else.  In this alternate reality, government favors one religion, and nobody is free to challenge the government-sponsored dominance of the favored religion.

This alternate understanding of religious freedom appears to be shared by many Christians.  Apparently, this includes Victor Reppert.  Sad.

4 comments:

  1. Freedom is the ability to deprive others of their freedom.

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    1. This appears to be a trend in the Trump administration, as the Friendly Atheist notes.

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  2. Christians have no concept of freedom, Their narrow-minded parochial world view is manacled to an illusion with dangerous consequences.

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    1. Christian concept of Freedom (traditional version):
      Accept Jesus as your savior or burn in hell forever.

      Christian concept of Freedom (modern light version):
      Accept Jesus as your savior or suffer the anguish of privation from God forever.

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