Mary is sweating bloody bullets -- it seems the Church is once again being threatened by the cosmic might of U.S. representatives. One wonders why her omnipotent deity doesn't simply smite the armies of secularization, instead of waiting for the pleading prayer of the pious to pass a critical threshold before acting to preserve religious liberty. Mary's panicked report:
If the plan proposed in H.R. 1592 (The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007) is passed in Congress tomorrow (May 3, 2007), according to its opponents, it will severely hinder religious freedoms, including the ability to openly express the doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faith.
Already on the website poll, more of the About.com Christians have voted that H.R. 1592 is not going to undermine freedom. Now, I don't think it's prudent to legislate civic values, but I am bemused by the spectacle of Mary's histrionic performance. She writes:
What happened to America? I thought we had religious freedoms here, not to mention free speech? What do you think? Is it a crime to be a Christian now? Should believers be prosecuted for expressing the convictions of their faith?
One hopes that the answer to her question, "What has happened to America?", is that we are beginning to want to shrug off the cloak of idiocy called dogma. Just as we have religious freedom, there is a freedom from religion -- don't be surprised if the modern population realizes is far more free without religion than with. We have free speech -- don't be surprised if others exercise that freedom by making speeches declaiming the untruth of the Bible (and the Torah, and the Book of Mormon, and the Vedas, and the Qu'ran, etc).
I wrote a little note to Mary, confront her with a different perspective:
I fully believe that adults should have religious freedom. For if I would grant myself the authority to permit or prohibit certain actions as a campaign against nonsense, I'd be hard put to explain why my neighbors would not have a similar authority. And surely they'd soon begin to call my habits nonsensical and therefore prohibited as well. As I do not trust the voting public to leave me unmolested, I shall continue to support the broad protection of civil liberties. So believe what you will; worship as you like. But don't expect that I'll be as willing to acknowledge your "right" to cultivate in your children all the old superstitions, prejudices, and cosmological confusion that we call "church," or that I see some compelling legal reason to exclude anti-gay and anti-female (to name two of many biases) from public criticism.I don't think this bill should pass, but neither should we be afraid to be increasingly intolerant of rationally indefensible belief in our daily private lives.
Believers should, indeed, be prosecuted for expressing their convictions -- for those convictions are medieval, false, and injurious to civic health, and deserve to be prosecuted in the court of public reason. Let us hope that judgment is passed in favor of reality, and that religion can finally be sentence to eternal ignominy, as one of those curious institutions that any society must grow out of if it is to call itself truly civilized.