While I tend to focus on general topics on this blog, I’m trying to post resources this week on how to focus your dollars, activism, and efforts on reducing the harm from this year’s election. This will be a multi-part series of short entries, focusing on a variety of causes that you can get involved in to mitigate some harm.
In his own terminology, Donald Trump would be an absolute disaster for Religious Freedom. His words seem to imply otherwise as he claims to champion religious freedom, but only superficially. He courted evangelicals by stating that he values religious freedom, and that he wants to do that by repealing the Johnson Amendment, which earned him 81% of evangelicals who voted.
However, this actually is a distortion of religious freedom. The Johnson Amendment actually maintains the First Amendment by holding all tax-exempt organizations to the same standard. We give tax breaks to nonprofits, while stating that they can’t utilize their special status for political purposes. If religious organizations are allowed to make political pronouncements, then this gives their speech special status.
In reality, Donald Trump only appears to selectively support certain religious beliefs, while completely opposing others. He has built a campaign on anti-Muslim bigotry and fear, and threatens to eradicate freedom of religion by marginalizing religious minorities.
While he has specifically built his campaign platform on xenophobia targeted against Muslims, his proposals are threatening the religious freedoms of anyone who is not a Christian. He is transparently ignorant about Christianity, but he continues to pander to evangelicals. As with all candidates, his religious beliefs don’t matter, but his honesty absolutely does.
Trump has stated that he will (somehow) make everyone say Merry Christmas again, which certainly is against the First Amendment.
Not to mention, Mike Pence would be bad at this as well. He opposes stem cell research, doesn’t accept evolution, and as I’ve covered is terrible on LGBTQ issues, all as a function of his theocratic tendencies.
All these threaten our secular constitutional republic, which is founded on religious freedom, such that us and our freedoms aren’t subject to the religious beliefs of others.
What can I do to help?
Again, I would suggest that you can support the ACLU, who will fight for your rights if you are discriminated based on religious identity.
You can also support and take action with the Anti-Defamation league, which will legally fight against religious bigotry, and also has actions you can participate in to combat this bigotry.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation will combat any overreach of religious action into government, including public schools. The American Humanist Association will also fight these legal battles, but also major human rights projects you can be involved with.
Also, take the time to meet people whose religious beliefs are not your own. If you feel like it, inform yourself on the religious practices and beliefs who are not your own, and not just the bad stuff. Be willing to challenge bigotry of this type if you see it.
Please feel free to share this piece with others who are concerned with relevant issues.