December 24, 2009

I'm Christian—I don't have to obey the law.

When it comes to religion and the promotion of religion, people have no problem breaking the law. In fact, some people have no understanding of the law whatsoever and don’t mind when they learn that they’re breaking it—especially Christians.

In Pennsylvania, a nativity scene was recently erected at the Luzerne County courthouse. Given that only a nativity scene and menorah were present, a Kings College student complained to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU offered a compromise to avoid any legal challenges—challenges which would have obviously gone the way of the ACLU because their argument would be the legal one.

The compromise was that Luzerne County officials would also place secular holiday decorations next to the nativity scene. The county officials agreed and now the nativity scene is accompanied by Santa Claus, a snowman, and a “Happy Kwanzaa” sign.

What I found both outrageous but typical were the responses from the Christians who had no problem with breaking the law, so long as the illegal acts benefitted their religion. A woman named Cathy Mack organized a protest to show solidarity in their attempt to violate the First Amendment and was quoted as saying:
“And to think that he is doing all of this and he says next year he wants to just put up snowmen and candy canes or whatever. It’s ridiculous and I can’t believe it.”
Yes, she can’t believe that someone wants Christians to obey the First Amendment or any laws that govern the separation of church and state. How dare they.

Another woman, Lisa Kazmerick, insists that “there’s no such thing as separation of church and state during the holidays.” I’m guessing that Lisa has never once even glanced at the United States Constitution. Then again, she’s Christian; she doesn’t have to because the laws of the land apply to everyone else.

My favorite comment in the story came from Debbie Lansberry, another Christian protester who sees nothing wrong with breaking the law:
“It’s really evoked a feeling of sadness, to see that a small group of minorities can come in and take away the rights that Christians and Jewish people have had for thousands of years.”
What the hell is she even talking about?! Christians and Jews had a right to break the law for thousands of years? Where? The United States has only existed since the late-1700s. Before that there existed religious friction in Europe, hence the Pilgrims making their voyage to a new land. (And they ironically adopted the same form of religious fascism that they previously opposed, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Second, is she suggesting that those of us who believe in obeying the law are “the minority”? Oh...wait...maybe she’s correct on that point.

None of this shocks me, though. I work with a person who once said that “Christianity should be the national religion.” I informed her that such a move would violate the First Amendment and her response was, “I really don’t care about the First Amendment.”

Sadly, I knew it was the truth; she didn’t care about the First Amendment nor any other part of the Constitution. She was and is, however—in her view—a true, patriotic Christian American. This patriotism, though, is more a form of blind nationalism borne of the ignorance that is widespread in organized religion. The belief is that you can do what you want because you’re above everyone else. You’re essentially allowed to do anything that you want because your higher power is looking out for you. Your soul will be saved no matter how much you violate the rights of others. God is on your side and everyone else must do as you say. You don’t have to obey the same rules that your fellow Americans have made law. You’re the chosen ones.

Perhaps a proper Christmas gift for these folks would be a copy of the Constitution. Unfortunately, they’d probably just use it to start a fire in their fireplaces.

Coyle, Ryan. “Nativity Scene Protest in Luzerne County.” WNEP. 18 Dec. 2009.

Meyer, Jon. “Manger Scene, Menorah Returned to Courthouse.” WNEP. 21 Dec. 2009.


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