April 23, 2005

Public Displays of Christianity Coming to Mississippi

Deciding that their image as a haven for conservatives, Bible-thumpers, racists, and others found to be lacking in intelligence (or at least education) just isn't enough, the state of Mississippi has passed a new law allowing Christian displays in public buildings. The governor already has a Ten Commandments display in his office and has now decided that everyone else should do the same. This action follows a 2001 law requiring public schools to display "In God We Trust" in every classroom.

Not surprisingly, the Christians are coming out in vocal support of the new law. They seem to take the poor image of Mississippi as a matter of pride. I guess it is more fun to be Christian when you can rub everyone else's face in it and wallow in your own ignorance.

Also not surprisingly, an ACLU response is already being anticipated. The ACLU is being demonized in virtually every story printed or broadcast about the new law. Even though they haven't done anything yet, public outrage is being elicited. Every politician knows that coming out against such a measure would be political suicide in this state.

This issue is important to me because I am currently living in Mississippi. This is something that will impact me each time I enter a public building. I will find myself thinking about it every day, whether I want to or not. This is something that will probably compel me to take action in some form, even though I am certain that to do so would jeopardize my safety.

What's the big deal? First, these Christian displays foster religious intolerance by demonstrating a clear preference for Christianity over other religions. While this might not impact me directly as an atheist, it maintains an environment hostile to diversity, and this is something I oppose on principle. Second, these displays are offensive to those of us who base our systems of belief of reasoned inquiry and empirical evidence as opposed to mindless faith and superstition. Each time I see such a display, I am reminded of the ignorance of my neighbors and worry that the stake burnings can't be far behind. Third, such displays contribute to the further dumbing-down of our culture - both locally and nationally. By continuing to publicize this mass embrace of irrational and maladaptive beliefs, we insure that future generations will fail to progress beyond our current limitations.

Expect to hear more from me on this topic in future posts.

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