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Christian persecution peddlers want special treatment not religious freedom

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/11/2015 Dale Hansen

Christian persecution has become a new religion for many. These people take it on faith that a war on Christianity is being waged in America. The reality is, the only war being waged right now is one to define the religious freedoms afforded to Americans by the constitution. Despite this fact, the Christian crusaders in the conservative media are still out in full force trying to convince their viewers that any limitations to how and when they can practice their religion are tantamount to outlawing Christianity.

For example, conservative Christian zealot Todd Starnes has spent the past few weeks trying to convince people that "public schools are shoving Christians in the closet" because a Washington state football coach was told he could not pray at the 50 yard line after games. The problem is that in order to claim Christian persecution Starnes must willfully ignore the legal limits of religious freedom.

It's possible that this coach is well within his rights to pray after games. It's also possible that since the coach prays on school property in a place where students are present his actions represent state sponsored religion. Luckily, the decision on what this coach is legally allowed to do is not one that will be decided by the media; but when you have an agenda to push, concerning yourself with factual legalese becomes secondary to generating spurious outrage.

Regardless of how this case turns out, the biggest problem it exposes is not some conspiracy theory where a small minority of Americans are repressing the rights of the Christian majority, but rather just how self-serving the application of religious freedom is for these Christian activists.

It seems likely that if this were a Muslim coach it would be conservative Christians demanding that this coach keep his religious views to himself. After all, despite arguing that Christian children should be allowed to pray in public schools, it is Christians that are most upset with schools that make accommodations to protect Muslim students' rights to practice their religion.

The problem for many is that in spite of the fact that these rights apply to all religions equally, the practices of Muslims fall outside of our Judeo-Christian traditions, so the accommodations being offered have the appearance of special treatment. The truth is, American schools were designed to facilitate Christian religious customs. For instance, while schools are closed for Christian holidays like Christmas and Good Friday, Islamic holidays are largely ignored by the public school system. Schools have also structured their weekly schedule around the Christian day of rest while the Islamic day of prayer, Friday, is considered just another day for most public schools. And while schools have made sure that wearing skirts, as required by some Christian religions, is acceptable for any dress code, some schools have banned traditional Muslim attire.

Where are the media's conservative Christian raconteurs demanding the protection of religious freedom for those who are being forced to conform to Christian customs?

Of course school accommodations are hardly the only instance of conservative Christian religious freedom hypocrisy.

After hearing of a legal case involving two Muslim truck drivers who refused to transport alcohol because doing so was against their beliefs, many Christians suggested that if these drivers couldn't do the job then they should do something else. Yet these are some of the same people who argue that Military chaplains should have the religious freedom to shame gay service men and women because of their firmly held religious beliefs. Given that the federal courts ruled that discriminating against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is unconstitutional, ending this restriction, it seems that the chaplains' views now make them unable to properly execute the duties required by their position. Following conservative Christian logic, these chaplains need to find another occupation where their religious convictions don't interfere with the job they were hired to do.

Another example of the duplicity of the conservative Christian media can be seen in how they handle racism. For many in this group, racism is something that only exists in the minds of race baiters, yet somehow they are oblivious to their own position as instigators of the manufactured war on Christianity. When a racially motivated situation arises, the conservative media is the first to whine about Al Sharpton showing up to shine a light on the discrimination being perpetrated. They call him "racial ambulance chaser" and insist that if Al Sharpton is there "you can safely assume you're being taken for a ride". But when the issue is Christian religious freedom they feel they are doing God's work by highlighting a potential injustice and they praise groups like the Liberty Institute that vigorously pursue and publicize situations involving possible religious discrimination.

Are these people altruistic fighters for freedom or repugnant profiteers of ignorance? Unfortunately, how these people and organizations are viewed tends to have little to do with their actions and far more to do with the beliefs of the person judging those actions.

Having said that, if the persecution peddlers are serious about solving this issue, they should follow the advice the conservative media has for liberals and stop playing the victim in an attempt to get people to cater to their needs. The reality is that the vast majority of instances that these Christian propagandists claim are Christian persecution are just situations where there is some uncertainty regarding the interpretation of the constitution. Claiming otherwise is great if you want to sell ads space, but it's pretty stupid if you really care about religious freedom.

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