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Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

A week or so ago, while scrolling through CNN, I found a video, that I think was supposed to be amusing, of people stealing Trump lawn signs. I strongly dislike Donald Trump and what he stands for…and almost everything that he says…however, I found myself upset at this.  My family and I took our first European trip this summer and we spent three days in Paris.  Our tour guide at Versailles told us that the thing that she thought was so startling about America was how we had political lawn signs.  She explained how signs like those would just get vandalized in France.  Now I see the same thing happening here.  A fellow alumna from my alma mater just posted that her Clinton/Kaine sign was taken down within a day.

 

Why do we think that this is an appropriate way to share our feelings or to react against those we disagree with? Having a Trump bumper sticker shouldn’t lead to your car getting vandalized.  The reason so many of us are afraid of a Trump presidency is that we believe he does not represent America’s enduring values.  One of those is freedom of expression.  We all have the right to our own beliefs and to share them.  The right of all of us to put up lawn signs, hold posters at polling places, and to fully participate every day in the dialogue of democracy is one of the things that makes our country great.  It’s hypocritical to tear down another’s property in the name of protecting American values.  Just because the news might read like a reality television show doesn’t mean that we need to act like it.  Protecting the rights of everyone is what America should stand for, even those that are different or that disagree with you.

 

To paraphrase Evelyn Hall, I might disapprove of who you vote for, but I’ll defend to the death your right to choose.

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Where do I start?  Where do I start?  It’s difficult for me to determine where I should begin to explain all the things that I find horrifying about this video… 

Let me start here.  I’m not ashamed to say I’m a Christian either.  Let me say this first: Rick Perry does not speak for all Christians. 

Guess we’ll work chronologically.

“You don’t need to be in the Pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military”

First of all, everyone who is capable and has a desire to serve our country in the armed forces should be welcomed as they are.  Men, women, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Caucasion, African-American, Asian, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim, this is a country where all are welcome, and our military should reflect that.  There is no reason why people who are gay should be prohibited from serving in the military forces.  In the American Revolution or the Civil War, women dressed as men to try to serve their country, they had to hide who they were as well.  Now, women are valued members of the services, sometimes even being able to accomplish tasks that men are not, such as speaking with local women to gather information.  And really, gays being allowed to serve in the military, that’s really the worst thing you can think of that’s wrong with this country?  What about the fact that gay teens are feel forced to commit suicide because of excessive amounts of bullying because of their sexual orientation?  Don’t you think that’s much more concerning in what it says about America and our values?

“but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school”

First of all, I’m a devout Christian, I’ve grown up celebrating Christmas, and I know no one who has had to hide the fact that they celebrated Christmas.  In fact, I’m a Christian and I sometimes wish people didn’t so openly celebrate Christmas.  I also have attended both Christian and public school.  I have lived in both worlds.  I miss having prayers in class, I’ll admit it, they can be a nice way for people to come together.  But I was in a Christian school.  It has never crossed my mind that it would be appropriate in a public school.  Aside from the fact that not everyone’s Christian, not everyone’s religious.  There are Creaster people (people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter, or in Jewish equivalents, only on High Holidays) and then there are outright atheists and agnostics.  Having organized prayer in school just isn’t appropriate in public school, the place for that is home, church, (or your equivalent) and within a group of people who have agreed that they are comfortable with something like that.  Besides, I pray in school all the time, but it’s between me and God, and that’s something that no one can legislate away from me.  I don’t know why we think that it has to be in an organized setting to be real.  Whatever personal feelings are, we are a nation that does not institutionalize religion, and that means that in our public institutions, organized prayer does not have its place. 

“as President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion”

Okay, if you’re going to be making an ad that thousands of people are going to see, get your facts right.  Things you’re discussing, such as what is acceptable in terms of school prayer or in public Christmas displays, those decisions weren’t made by Obama, they were made by the supreme court.  There’s no war on religion, at least not from the government, that there’s a culture that’s turning more hostile to religion in general, I’ll give you that, but I don’t think government’s how you fix that.

“and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage”

Okay, as any of you can see if from the title of this blog, much of what this blog is about is the mistaken belief among many in our country (a disproportionate amount of them being in politics) that religion and politics go hand in hand.  Conservative=Religious (i.e. Christian), Liberal=Secular (i.e. evil…just kidding, sort of).  Things aren’t this clear-cut.  I’m a liberal and I’m an evangelical Christian.  There are religious liberals, there are secular conservatives.  There are conservatives and liberals who are both religious but believe the first amendment means that we shouldn’t insitutionalize religion.  I don’t like it when liberal is used to mean secular.  I don’t like it when conservative is used to mean Christian.  Things are much more complex than this.

All in all, I was rather horrified by Rick Perry’s ad, even more horrified when the only real outcries I heard were on social networking sites and not by any in the media.  Religion isn’t an us-them thing, there are no teams.  I found Rick Perry’s ad concerning and more than that, I found it sad that he actually thought that the majority of Americans held the same views.

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The Muslim practice of women wearing headscarves to cover their hair and neck has become a symbol in the United States for Islamic women.  Some see it as a symbol of their refusal to integrate into American society, some see it as the exercise of their religious beliefs, some see it as a sign of their oppression by men.  For most of these young women their choice of clothing is something that is reflective of their personal faith and they hold to that even in the face of ridicule or judgment by people around them.

Let’s just start with some terminology.   There are many different types of coverings, the four major ones being the hijab, the chador, the burqa, and the niqab.  The hijab is a headscarf that covers women’s hair and necks.  The chador is a full-body wear that is similar to a cloak and it leaves her face exposed.  The niqab is a full-body covering that covers everything except the eyes.  The burqa covers the eyes as well, leaving only a mesh covering to see through.  As a sidenote, the now-infamous headscarf ban in France bans only the burqa and the niqab and not the hijab and chador (though these things are not allowed in places like French schools where wearing pieces of religious symbolism is forbidden).  Hijab is also, at times, used to refer to the overall practice of modest dress.  Modest dress is interpreted several ways, most believe that it should not be form-fitting and many believe it should cover everything except face and hands (and some believe those too should be covered).

Women and girls wearing some form of the headscarf is becoming increasingly common.  While some are resistant to our country changing, I believe that it is America’s versatility and ability to change that is part of what makes this a great nation.  Just as with civil rights, an African-American girl also started to become a face of America, along with her blonde hair, blue-eyed counterpart, or as Asian-American girls also became common to see in the media, so I think that these Muslim girls are also becoming another face of America, something that bothers a great number of people.  This girl—a young woman with a hijab covering her hair, a loose-fitting shirt with long sleeves, and slacks—she is also America.

Common misperception: only immigrant women and girls still wear the headscarf and wearing it is a sign that they have not integrated into American culture.  This is false.  A large percentage of the women who wear the headscarf were born and raised in America, just like the rest of us.

Common misperception: most girls only wear the headscarf because they are forced to by their families or husbands.  This is also false.  While there are cases where women are forced by their families to wear the headscarf (particularly abroad) the majority of women make this choice freely. For the record though, in a way, isn’t a family encouraging a girl to wear a headscarf or cover herself not that different from when our parents refused to buy us a piece of clothing or leave the house in an outfit because we were wearing a short skirt or a low top?  Or when we’ve done that to our daughter?  Standards of appropriate dress are different in every family, we know this.  While this does not excuse someone forcing their daughter or wife to wear something against their will, perhaps looking at it from this perspective we might understand better why some families strongly wish their daughters to dress in a way that they think is appropriate.

Most women who cover themselves do so out of a personal choice.  They do it because they feel it is something that is mandated by their religion.  Or some do it because it is part of their faith and spirituality, it helps them to connect with God.  Some do it because they feel that, similarly while many Christians believe in saving aspects of physicality (like sex) for marriage and in only giving that to one person, they also believe in only showing themselves to their family and husband.  And there are some who do it because they prefer to dress modestly as a way of respecting themselves and their body.  Instead of feeling commoditized or insecure about body image, they cover themselves as a way of taking focus away from their body and back to where they believe it truly belongs: their heart and mind.  Many would prefer the stares from their modest dress and headscarf than the stares of boys on a street corner.  Whatever motivates Muslim women to wear their headscarves and modest dress, for many of them it is a deeply personal choice that they make because they feel that this best reflects their faith and beliefs.  Christians should understand this since so many Christians also believe in dressing modestly.  This is just a different aspect and a different way of reflecting a similar belief and practice across our religions.

However, instead many Muslim women feel isolated or ostracized.  They feel pressure from peers and get disrespectful questions about their choices.  At times they have been shouted at, had people try to pull their headscarves off, and there are even a few cases where women wearing hijab have been attacked.  In spite of public disapproval, they have continued to express their faith and they should be admired for that.  We should be supporting these women’s choice instead of condemning them or judging them.

There is a lawsuit going forward by a young Muslim woman against Abercrombie and Fitch after she was allegedly fired because they said her headscarf did not conform with their company dress code.  She had been working without a problem for a number of months and had been sure to wear her hijab in company-approved colors until a district manager saw her.  When she refused to take off her hijab while at work she was fired from her job.  (It is worth noting that this is not the first time since Abercrombie and Fitch have been sued for discrimination).

Abercrombie and Fitch has a specific dress code that they require all their employees to wear, the idea being that the dress code is supposed to reflect their “All-American Style”.  Apparently they do not believe that a hijab is an American style, that it is not All-American.  Aside from the fact that by extension this is implying that they don’t see people who wear the hijab as truly American and the indignity of this, they are wrong.  We are entitled, under the bill of rights, to freedom of expression and that there shall be nothing to prohibit the free exercise of religion.  It is this freedom that entitles us to express our Christian faith, such as wearing a cross.  And all who value their religious freedom should do their utmost to defend it for others.   But further, that these women are free to wear their hijab and express their faith in this way is not un-American.  In fact, having this freedom and right of religion and expression (and to be able to live in a society that accepts their choice) is quintessentially American.

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