Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christian Trick Would Ban Free Speech in Olympia

This morning in Olympia, Washington, we had an example of Democracy at its very best: Christians, Atheists, and various bystanders, all raising their voices on the street in front of the state capitol. The Christians have every right to protest the Atheist sign that was placed next to their nativity scene. The Atheists exercised their right to counter-protest, the bystanders to watch the whole thing in amusement, and the Governor to listen. There were even neutral demonstrators too, whose message was, "Get over it! We have wars, the economy ... stuff that matters!"

This is absolutely wonderful, and is what Democracy is all about: The right to free speech, to open discourse, and public debate with out fear of reprisal.

But then, the Christians blew it, big time. Their trick is very subtle, very clever, but Atheists MUST NOT GIVE IN. There is an insidious attempt by the Christians to suppress free speech under the guise of equality for all.

What is this subtle trick?
Dan Orr [a Christian protester] said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.
In other words, "free speech" to them means that, as the dominant religion, they can post their widely recognized icons and idols on the lawn (which virtually ever American is familiar with), and the Jews can put a Menorah or Star of David on the lawn (which most Americans will at least recognize as being of Jewish origin), and the Atheists can put ... the red "A" logo from the "Out" campaign? A picture of Jesus with a circle-and-slash through it?
bizarro 'we're atheists'
As the dominant religion, banning signs with words gives Christians a massive advantage. They can create a wordless display like the nativity scene, and everyone knows what it is. They could also put up a wordless scene of angels, Satan, sinners and unbelievers being cast down to Hell, all sorts of elaborate anti-Atheist messages, and virtually everyone who passed by would get the message.

Banning words will effectively ban speech by non-Christians, while leaving the Christians free to shout their message from the Washington State Capitol lawn. And in case anyone thinks this is just a bunch of nice people spreading good cheer, consider these words from one of the state representatives:
State Rep. Jim Dunn, a Vancouver Republican, called for the crowd to continue their energy and prayers. "It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers," Dunn said.
This is modern Christianity at its worst.

A far better solution is to follow the United States Constitution: Keep church and state completely separate. Let people put their nativity scenes on their own lawns, on their church lawns, even at the supermarket – that's what American freedom of religion is all about. But not on the government's lawn.

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