Sunday, September 20, 2015

Donald Trump And Religious Freedom

Sara Jerde at TPM succinctly summarizes Trump's problem:
During the town hall in New Hampshire, the audience member also said that President Obama was a Muslim. Trump was criticized for not defending Obama and Muslims to the audience member.

CNN "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper asked Trump on Sunday if he had a responsibility to "call out the hatred."

"Well we could be politically correct, if you want, but are you trying to say we don't have a problem," Trump said. "I think everybody would agree. I have friends that are Muslims. They're great people, amazing people. And most Muslims, like most everything, I mean they're fabulous people, but we certainly do have a problem."

Tapper asked him to clarify what the "problem" was.

"Well, you have radicals that are doing things," Trump replied. "It wasn't people from Sweden that blew up the world trade center, Jake."
I'm going to address Trump's problem... he's almost right when he says "we certainly do have a problem," but actually, HE "certainly do[es] have a problem" ... with an excerpt from Wikipedia on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his religion:
Jindal was raised in a Hindu household. He converted to Christianity while in Baton Rouge Magnet High School. During his first year at Brown University, he was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. His family attends weekly Mass at Saint Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge.
Raised Hindu; converted Christian in a magnet high school; baptized Roman Catholic and attends weekly Mass... now THAT is religious freedom, as protected in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. That Constitution does NOT say an American may practice "any Christian religion," nor indeed does it require an American to practice any religion whatsoever, or to refrain from practicing any religion whatsoever, as long as s/he does not violate ordinary secular laws (e.g., forget any notion you may have of engaging in ritual sacrifice of humans; that's still murder).

So Jindal, a stalwart Republican if there ever was one, gets to practice his religion... indeed, his long series of quite different religions over the years... and that's his right under the First Amendment. But according to Trump's audience member, uncorrected by Trump, a Muslim has no similar right: the audience member is certain that America's problem is specifically Muslims, not specifically terrorists.

The late great Thomas Jefferson would have been very surprised to hear an American citizen eliminate that right for Muslims (Jefferson called them "Mahometan," but demonstrably knew what and who they were), and with equal certainty intended the First Amendment to protect them. I guess Trump, like so many right-wing nutjobs, is only selectively fond of our nation's founders, and he disapproves of Jefferson and his liberality toward a wide variety of religions.

Religious Diversity in Symbols
(UU Flaming Chalice: 2nd row, 3rd symbol)
How do you know Trump, if elected, would not at some point disapprove of your religion, if you happen not to be Christian (as indeed I am not; I'm a Unitarian-Universalist)? What would he do about his disapproval? The question is not far-fetched: a few years back, an appointed elected Republican official in Texas issued an order removing tax-exempt status for Unitarians, whose membership historically included three or four American presidents. The order was quickly rescinded under considerable public pressure, but Texas GOPers would do it again in a millisecond if they had the chance.

What's your religious freedom worth to you? More to the point, what's YOUR religious freedom worth to Trump?

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