When I say religious fundamentalists, what comes to mind? The Taliban? The Westboro Baptist Church? Watching the news in France, I saw an exposé about a certain ultra-fundamentalist Church School in the U.S.A. You know the type, where evolution is a theory, not a Theory (more on that later). The problem with this was not they were disseminating information not in line with the scientific consensus, that is their right. The problem was that the main person in charge then said she wanted her religious liberties to be upheld by forcing all other schools to fall in line with her values.
She wanted the defense of her religious rights to include the destruction of the religious rights of everyone she didn’t agree with. There’s a word for that: Jihad.
This isn’t hyperbole. I used the word Jihad instead of Crusade because the former tends to be more shocking, but they’re both the same word.
Let’s clear this up.
Religious rights in the United States are actually pretty simple.
Freedom of Religion is a right under the First Amendment,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
-Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States of America
To simplify; Congress isn’t allowed to establish or forbid any religion, or stop you from saying, writing, or asking* anything.
The part where it says ‘free exercise’ matters more than the rest. It means the government can’t force people to worship or not worship anything. You are free to worship (or not) anything or anyone you want.
What that lady wanted was to force her dogma onto the rest of the nation, something that would require the scrapping of the very first Amendment, and even knowing the USA these days, I still think more people are fans of the first than the second.
On the other hand. I absolutely would fight for her right to say she wanted to get rid of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is an important part of the First Amendment. The ironic thing is that the moment the amendment is repealed is the moment she loses the right to freely advocate for it.
Let me make a segue. The Second Amendment has been big in the media since before I was born. Contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t until 2008 that the 2nd Amendment was taken to mean ‘The right to bear arms.’ Before that it was to allow towns, cities, and states to form a citizen militia for their own defense. Until 2008, they also had to be part of the State’s government, like a mini-Army.
These days, you are allowed to have any weapon you can carry, so you’d better bet that the moment I get back to the states I’m purchasing a halberd.
What other rights do we have?
Some important ones are outlined in Abraham Lincoln’s best work, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, A.K.A. the Reconstruction Amendments
The 13th Amendment abolishes slavery, and other kinds of involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime. Wrong as it may seem, enslaving criminals is a major part of the U.S.A.’s criminal justice system (That’s a discussion for another day).
The 14th Amendment basically defines citizenship as anyone born or naturalized in the U.S., proclaims that states aren’t allowed to go behind the federal government’s back and enslave people, says that the government can’t just kidnap and enslave people whenever they want (*cough*Patriot Act*cough*). Lastly, the government has to treat all citizens equally
The 15th Amendment is about voting. It prohibits any government from stopping people from voting based on race, color, and ‘previous condition of servitude’, which is a polite way of saying ‘our former slaves’. Of course, a lot of independent groups such as the first Ku Klux Klan and the White League popped up like mushrooms.
Obviously the problem of disenfranchisement and oppression wasn’t solved there. It’s still a problem today, though perhaps a bit ameliorated, hopefully.
There are many more rights, of course, but they’re more recent, or affect organizations, like corporations and unions.
I didn’t mean to offend anyone of any belief, and I do hope that a reasonable and rational discussion will happen at some point, somewhere, maybe with Bigfoot to mediate after the inaugural Hell winter Olympics. In any case, I will likely add to this later.
As usual, if I said anything incorrect, or you want to start a discussion, feel free to comment.
*There’s a bit of a gray area here, but that applies mostly to things like profanity or putting naked pictures in the press, so I don’t think that applies.