Friday, May 23, 2014

Because They're Going to Try

Here's where real Christian oppression happens. Note the enormous expanse of white that is North America

Poor Oppressed Christians often frame their imaginary persecution in terms that imply if only members of other religions would just leave them alone, everything would be fine. And you know, if they really meant it, I would agree with them. I'm not looking to drive religious expression from the public square, I just want to make sure that all religions including my own are represented there. The problem is that these folks lose sight of their own Golden Rule the moment they get even a little bit of power - like this.

In the recent Town of Greece v. Galloway decision the Supreme Court ruled that legislative bodies could open with prayers given by a rotation of volunteer chaplains so long as those of minority religions were not excluded. The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors in Virginia took that as a win, and went on doing exactly what the ruling precluded - excluding minority faiths. In fact, I wouldn't personally have a much of a problem with the Greece v. Galloway ruling if only the Poor Oppressed Christians weren't such assholes about the whole thing.

A state appeals court upheld the county’s policy in a 2005 ruling, and the board has invited local clergy whose names are drawn from an official county list. Almost all of those religious leaders have represented Christian denominations, and the county has denied a Wiccan’s request to be added to the list.

Officials defended that decision, saying the “neo-pagan” faith does not fall within the Judeo-Christian tradition and “invokes polytheistic, pre-Christian deities.” That claim led to a lawsuit by Americans United and the ACLU, but the groups say the board continues to exclude even some monotheistic faiths, such as the county’s Sikh congregation.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision permits local municipalities to open meetings with Christian prayer, but the civil liberties groups want to clarify that the ruling does not permit exclusion of non-Christian faiths.

Now this is a case that needs to be won on behalf of minority religions. The town of Greece was actually responsive to criticism of its all-Christian roster of chaplains and reformed their policies back in 2007, inviting non-Christians to participate. So even though the majority of their chaplains were still Christian, they made an effort to do the right thing. Here there's no ambiguity, though - this is clearly a case of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors establishing a religion, by only allowing the prayers of particular denominations, and they need to be stopped.

Seriously, they're so utterly not oppressed. Cases like this show that the Poor Oppressed Christian agenda isn't about being left alone, but rather about enshrining themselves as a superior class of people free to exclude and look down upon all others without any threat of legal sanction.

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