I can’t speak for everyone living in the United States right now, but in eighth grade I was in U.S. History class and I was taught that the strength of the First Amendment’s protections against religious discrimination is that it cuts both ways — both for and against religious people.
The idea was, I was taught, that the First Amendment says the government can’t force religion — any religion — down our throats, but it also can’t tell people they aren’t allowed to practice their religion. The same principle applies in reverse. Religious people aren’t allowed to subvert an agnostic or atheistic person’s rights by way of their religion either. As many things as the founders ultimately got wrong or right, I always felt like the freedom of religion clause in the First Amendment was pretty spot-on.
But it appears that conservatives in red states have a fundamental lack of understanding how this works. Whether it’s the bigots in North Carolina suddenly up in arms over where people piss and shit, or the bigots in Mississippi getting carte blanche to discriminate against LGBT+ people as long as they couch their oppression in religious belief, there are states in this country whose conservative governments literally look and sound like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan or Daesh-controlled Syria and Iraq.
All this codified bigotry makes me want to move to a red state and start discriminating against Christians, based on my own atheism. After all, the First Amendment protects my right to not have religious beliefs, and I can assure you my atheistic views are “deeply held.” So I want to move to Mississippi or North Carolina and open up a store that Christians would want to go to, but not let them in, based on them being Christians, and see how they take it.
Like, what if I bought a Chik-Fil-A franchise in Derpasippi and stocked it with Bibles and copies of Ronald Reagan’s biography, but told all the fundies they couldn’t come in? That would make them nuts, wouldn’t it? Or what if I hired a whole bunch of Christians for my Chik-Fil-A and then fired them all once I found out they were Christian. I could just tell the judge I’ve read plenty of stories in the news over the years of Christians committing crimes, and I just couldn’t trust them to in my fried chicken eatery.
I’ve been saying for years now that I left the Republicans and conservatism for a lot of reasons, but perhaps chief among them is seeing how the party has become the modern day segregationist party. Who else in our recent history was forced to use separate public accommodations? African-Americans in the Jim Crow days, that’s who. Once you read enough legal arguments from anti-LGBT lawyers that sound like anti-integration arguments from civil rights era bigots, you realize how sadly repetitive history really is.
Religious conservatives in this country have seemingly forgotten that the First Amendment is a two-way street. They have also forgotten, it seems, why it’s so obvious that we need it to work just so. They love to complain that they are persecuted, and that’s why they need these laws in the first place, but I’m thinking if enough people did to conservative Christians what they want to do to LGBT+ people, they might just get the message and back off.
Apparently no one told evangelical conservatives in Mississippi or North Carolina about the story of Pandora’s Box, nor how the golden rule really works. So that’s why I would love to pack up my wife and kids and take them to one of these red states so that I can give pious conservatives a taste of their own medicine, but I can’t.
Because I promised my wife that I’d never let my boys think that the Earth was 6,000 years old, that the Bible is the Constitution just more important, or that they can or should fuck their cousins. But other than that…