Are Non-Christian Americans Unamerican?

Are Non-Christian Americans Unamerican?


Leonard Zwelling

Rick Rojas, David W. Chen, and Elizabeth Dias give a great summary of a subject to which all us non-Christians had better pay attention in The New York Times on June 22.

Louisiana’s legislature has passed and Governor Jeff Landry has signed a bill making it mandatory for public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments. Other laws in Louisiana require transgender students to be addressed by the pronouns assigned to them at birth and another law has public schools employing chaplains. Louisiana also considers abortion pills “dangerous controlled substances.”

The point that Governor Landry wishes to make is that he wants to instill Christian values into the public school system and “we won’t quit.”

There is great danger in mandating a religious belief in a public institution. I’m afraid I have had this one introduced to me when I was very young. My mother, a second-grade public school teacher, would not allow a Christmas tree in her classroom. And, she was right.

Here is what the First Amendment says in this regard.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It is reasonable to intuit that the injection of Christian values including the Ten Commandments into a public-school classroom violates this clause of the Bill of Rights.

However, there is much more at stake.

Christianity has a very specific set of values, most of which are shared by members of other prominent faiths represented by citizens of the United States. But there is not one-to-one overlap between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Americans should be free to follow any religious path they choose, but they should also be free to not follow any path at all and certainly not be made to follow anyone else’s path. In Louisiana, that is not the case. The governor wants to mandate a Christian state which treads on the freedom of all non-Christian citizens of Louisiana.

What is more damning is that any authority would mandate what other people in a free country should think. It is not that I think there is anything wrong with the Ten Commandments, but rather that what I think should not affect the thinking of anyone else and mandating the display of a religious doctrine in a public- school classroom is patently wrong.

I really do understand why the Christian Nationalists say what they say and do what they do. They whole heartedly believe in rigid adherence to Christian values for their children and for their families. And isn’t it great that in this country they can insist on just that—at home and in church. Not in public schools.

As a Jew, I always get nervous when any other religion wants to tell me what to believe. We Jews have been ostracized throughout history for not being Christian. I get it. However, when religious values of any kind are incorporated into law, I get antsy.

My guess is that we will see laws like this pass in Texas soon given the make-up of our legislature and the viewpoint of our governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. If these laws come to pass, they must be challenged in court—all the way to the Supreme Court. I have no illusions about the Supreme Court either. It has tilted so far to the right that Chief Justice Roberts, a staunch conservative, is in the middle of the political spectrum on the current Court. The current Court might uphold the Louisiana law. That would be most unfortunate.

Just remember, any time the government tells you how to think, you are inching closer to autocracy and that is never a good thing.

Louisiana may want to return to the Inquisition. Let’s hope the rest of America does not.

2 thoughts on “Are Non-Christian Americans Unamerican?”

  1. True Christians would NOT want any of these laws or directives about education. These so-called Christians are the same type of people who promoted Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany in the name of Christ who would have thrown everyone of them out of the Temple. They are fascists, NOT Christians.
    I have lost trust in the Supreme Court protecting the rights of ALL Americans. We are headed toward another Trump Presidency which will be autocratic: and instead of the “brown shirts” of Hitler, we will have the “red ties” of Trump which we have already seen at his recent trial in New York.
    We must do EVERYTHING to defeat Trump! Otherwise, ALL minorities will be persecuted. There may be a modern Inquisition for many.

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