Posts Tagged ‘extremists’

Strange Bedfellows: Should Atheists Help Erode Religious Liberties?

There is some disagreement within the atheist community over how much freedom should be allowed to religious groups under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Many cheer cases where hateful though religious speech by Christians has been legally challenged. Many were upset when the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional rights of Westboro Baptist Church to protest and spew bigotry outside of funerals. Many atheists joined with fanatical right-wing Christians to oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Many more applauded European countries when they enacted laws against wearing burqas, which affect mostly Muslims and Jews–and those atheists, again, joined the roar to apply similar laws here.

As if to punctuate why this coercion against religion is wrong, Director of Issues Analysis of American Family Association Bryan Fischer has written that the First Amendment does not apply to Islam–or to any “non-Christian.”

The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity….Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. ((source))

Although the article was written against Islam and its extremist elements, one would hope the atheist community–and any other religious minority within the United States–would stop to reflect on who their bedfellows really are: Christian theocrats who, just as they write that Muslims have “privileges” and “courtesies” rather than “rights,” will feel no sorrow in denying atheists the rights to speak, to congregate, to question–to even be protected by the Civil Rights Act.

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08 2011