Many people do not seem to understand what separation of church and state is anymore. It means the right to practice your religion (or no religion) without persecution, not the right to force your belief system on everyone else. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Therefore, the government should not endorse a religion, base its laws on religions or attempt to ban a religion. So, it’s pretty inappropriate that President Donald Trump would tweet, “In America, we don’t worship the government – we worship God” (as if his supporters don’t almost worship him, defending any terrible thing he’s ever said or done). The beauty of America is the choice to partake in any religion you want or none at all. You can’t expect everyone to be Christian.
However, this tweet is the least problematic violation of separation of church and state. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back requirements that employers must cover birth control in their insurance plans due to “religious freedom.” This is absolutely insane. If you believe birth control is wrong because of your religion, that’s fine, but you can’t tell other people that. In addition, many girls and women use it as more than a contraceptive. It’s legitimate medicine for conditions like endometriosis and PCOS.
In addition, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just weakened protections for the LGBT community, also justifying it as “religious freedom.” The 25-page guidance directed toward businesses and schools make it easier for them to fire someone for simply being gay or transgender if it’s against their religion. Isn’t the whole point of every religion the golden rule – treat others how you want to be treated? The purpose of religion should not be to discriminate against others for being different, but for some people it is, and that is not right.
Lastly, there’s the attempted “Muslim ban” that several judges have already struck down as unconstitutional. I understand that countries must do background checks on the people coming, but this ban was loosely disguised discrimination. Many of these people are refugees, and they desperately need help. It’s cruel to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others like this. Many make the argument that there’s potential terrorists, but some of the worst terror attacks we’ve had since 9/11 were home grown – think of the Las Vegas shooting or the Pulse nightclub shooting. It’s not a great argument, considering that people in our own country can also do really evil things. Bad people can come from anywhere.
To wrap it up, having other people disagree with your religious belief is not persecution, but being prevented from practicing your religion is. Many of the people claiming that Christians are somehow oppressed, even when our pledge of allegiance and our currency involve God as viewed by Christianity, should really stop thinking that gays and Muslims are somehow persecuting them by existing and wanting humans rights. We’re all human. We all deserve respect. We all deserve to have employment, education, and healthcare without being discriminated against. And we all deserve to make our own choices with our religion, but not push it on others.