Maybe the USA will become a theocracy. It wouldn’t surprise me, and that’s not just my usual pessimism or disgust talking. If there’s one thing I understand, it’s the comfort of being around like-minded people (it happens with me so rarely), of being able to relate to someone. I'd be a liar to claim that I don't feel like bouncing around the room in elation every time I read something by Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins that mirrors my view of the world. I can see how people would jump at the chance to be led by a candidate who promises they’ll govern by a faith consistent with their own, because then they know that they’ll be safe, they don’t have to abandon the mindset they understand as the spiritually correct one. Try as I might, I can’t fault that line of thinking. What I can fault is the effect that feeling of moral security would have on other people.
Let’s say it happens; let’s say that the separation of church and state falls, that “religious freedom” is redefined as a gag order against criticising anyone’s beliefs so long as they’re Christian-derived, let’s say that the whole nation is governed by Biblical principles, and all legislature is held up for clerical scrutiny before it can pass. All abortion is outlawed. Gay marriage receives a constitutional ban. Every school is required by law to lead the students in a morning prayer. We’re back on the path of righteousness, and all’s right with the nation.
Or is it?
Maybe for you, and that’s great, but…here’s where you need to step outside your comfort zone, and know that your happiness has made a lot of people miserable.
You need to know that somewhere, maybe in your very hometown, a teenage boy is about to take his own life because his guidance counselor is more aghast over his sexual orientation than his bullies’ behavior. Somewhere, maybe in your very hometown, a woman is bleeding out because she couldn’t face the thought of giving birth to her rapist’s baby…couldn’t even bring herself, in her fear and shame, to report the rape. Somewhere, maybe in your very hometown, a child who’s just lost one loving parent to cancer or a car accident stands to lose both…because she has two mommies or two daddies rather than one of each. Somewhere, maybe in your very hometown, a person of no religious affiliation is facing a fine, or imprisonment, or perhaps worse, because they had the nerve to object to letting the God of fear and hate have the floor, while the God of love is left to warm the bench. Just think about that for a moment. The gay son of the generous, neighbourly, funloving couple next door…the pregnant rape victim who was class clown your senior year and always brought the best goodies to the marching band’s bake sales…your widowed co-worker whose desktop background was their partner lifting their child to crown their Christmas tree with a star…and me.
Miserable. Ostracised. Terrified. All because it wasn’t enough to practice your faith in your church and home…you had to have it legislated as well. And life’s great for you; no one’s forcing you to stop praying, or going to church, or have an abortion, or marry someone of your own sex--not that you would’ve had to either way, but hey, nothing beats a guarantee, right?
Except now I want you to turn your thoughts to the people who are suffering because the law requires them to abide by your faith. Don’t write them off as sinners, degenerates, fetus carriers, heretics; don’t reduce them to their sexuality, their reproductive organs, or their (lack of) doctrine. Don’t bring the Bible into it, either. Just this one time, leave scripture out of it--you can beg [H]im for forgiveness later if you have to, but on this most isolated occasion, don‘t let God's Word inform your answer. Consider these people as a human being with a heart, not as a devout Christian with a divine mandate.
You‘ve got the nation you always wanted. And they’re paying the price with their security, their dreams, their dignity, their lives.
Now ask yourself: IS IT WORTH IT?
A Concerned Atheist in the Bible Belt (But You Can Call Me Danielle)