I declined to write a post last week primarily because I felt that enough people would be offering a perspective on the politics of Chick-fil-a. The media storm surrounding the whole ordeal was enough to make me vomit, so I opted to withhold writing a perspective. I will only leave readers with this – let’s not politicize our food to the point that everything we eat stands for something more than food. I do not want to walk into a grocery store twenty years from now debating whether or not to buy the pro-gay cookie versus the anti-gay cookie. I already exert enough energy finding the cookie aisle to begin with.
Alas, the news always offers something new to talk about.
The Baptist Joint Committee’s Blog from the Capital posted yesterday that Missouri voters were deciding on an amendment Tuesday that would offer “additional security” to religious liberty in the state. The ballot measure read as follows
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:
- That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
- That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
- That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
It is estimated this proposal will result in little or no costs or savings for state and local governmental entities.
As Don Byrd correctly noted in the BJC’s Blog, the ballot hardly expressed the allowances provided by the amendment. The full text of the amendment would allow for sectarian prayers at government meetings as well as the ability for students to decline schoolwork that disagrees with religious belief. (The amendment passed 83%-17%)
If you have read any of my other previous posts, I try not to argue from a constitutional and legal perspective because I’m not a constitutional or legal scholar. Instead, I try to provide a Christian/Biblical perspective because I am a Christian. In this situation, a little Constitutional perspective might be necessary.
The first amendment of the Constitutional begins – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof. This amendment places limitations on the federal government, and (unless you are Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) this also places limitations on state governments through the incorporation clause of the 14th Amendment.
Much of what this Missouri amendment protects is redundant and already protected through the first amendment – the Missouri amendment attempts to offer additional security and clarification. Instead of offering any real additional security or clarification, the amendment only further complicates issues of religious liberty. (The New York Times carried an article yesterday addressing this complication)
Aside from further complication of the law in general, the amendment allows for two specific “provisions” that I think Christians should be aware of and speak out against in their communities. The first “provision” reads as follows
…the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or governing bodies…
In essence, should we allow individuals to open public events with sectarian, Christian prayers? The more I think about the issue, the more I wonder why any Christian would ever want to offer a prayer at such a large public, governmental event. The situation only feeds the human ego. Would the prayer be genuinely lifted up to God at such meetings, or would God look down to see a bunch of hypocrites already receiving their reward? (Matthew 6:5)
This is not the only problem with this “provision.” The intentionality and language only seem to highlight Christian an ever-present selfishness. Advocates of this amendment appear to only be thinking about themselves and their religious tradition.
Perhaps Christ will never be represented in politics, but until Christians hold each other accountable to serve others and not themselves or their friends, questions regarding Christ’s representation in politics will remain pointless. What would happen if we genuinely did not concern ourselves with our “rights” and started concerning ourselves with their “rights”?
The second “provision” I find rather funny as a student who just graduated with a degree in Religious Studies from a public university.
…no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs…
Because of this “provision,” I have recently adopted a new tenet of my faith. I do not believe in graded work. I shall only be required to complete assignments that are graded on the criteria that I complete them. Only God shall determine the actual merit of my work.
Obviously this provision was added to appease individuals that do not believe in evolution. Does it not seem a little arrogant, however, to think that we do not need to learn about things that we do not believe in? Perhaps this logic could apply to many things.
I don’t believe in sex before marriage – I don’t ever need to learn about sexual education.
I don’t believe in homosexuality – I don’t ever need to learn to work with homosexuals.
I don’t believe in any Religion but Christianity – I don’t ever need to learn about my neighbor.
Sounds like a rather selfish and arrogant way to live.