Sunlit Water

July 5, 2006

Not Again

Filed under: Culture — by teofilo @ 10:34 pm

I don’t want to hear any more about how Christians are persecuted in this country.

Reading the story, I was struck by how eerily similar it was to the kind of stuff my mom has had to deal with in the rural New Mexico school district where she teaches (except for the threats and protracted legal action). The kind of stuff they did wasn’t as blatantly offensive–no bible clubs or mandatory school prayer–but it had a similar “isn’t everyone Christian?” tone: having the kids sing “Silent Night” at the Christmas play (this one was overruled by the principal, who was rewarded by being crudely satirized in the play itself), giving Good Friday as a holiday without even bothering to rename it or otherwise obscure its religious nature, prayers to Jesus at meetings, etc. Nothing on the level of the Delaware case, really, and without the hostile tone, but similar.

It took my mom years to finally get the school district to give two days of religious leave (carved out of sick leave) per year; until then she always had to use her very limited personal leave for the High Holy Days, while Christians got Good Friday off automatically. It’s not that people were antagonistic, really, it’s just that it never even occurred to them that anyone might either not be Christian or find overt Christianity offensive. The community is very small and overwhelmingly Hispanic and Catholic, and though it is increasingly becoming a bedroom community for Albuquerque, the newcomers have not yet had much impact on the local culture (nor do they seem particularly inclined to).

Some liberal pundits (and some Democratic senators) have been saying recently that liberals need to be more conciliatory toward Christians and compromise more on church-state issues. They say that these issues are mostly symbolic, and it’s better to sacrifice some of them to get more votes than to hold fast and keep losing elections. Perhaps, but that’s easy to say when you’re ensconced in a big, cosmopolitan city where diversity rules the day. In other parts of the country, though, these issues really do have serious practical effects on people’s lives. Strict separation of church and state is indeed unpopular among the majorities in these areas, but majorities have plenty of power already. Representative democracy is about the rights of minorities.

A lot of feminists object to attempts to “compromise” on abortion by pointing out that giving up important rights is not worth any political gain. I agree, and I’d add First Amendment rights in there too.

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