We've seen it happen countless times. A U.S. citizen has the courage to stand up for the First Amendment of our Constitution and subsequently faces a barrage of insults, including threats of physical harm or even death, from Christians. Why it happens is no mystery. Significant numbers of Christians are hateful and feel justified in behaving this way when their privilege is threatened. It does not matter to them whether the subject of the original complaint was illegal; all that matters is that they perceive a threat to their Christian privilege and believe it is acceptable to react by threatening the brave individual who requested that the law be enforced.
In the United States, when you stand up for separation of church and state, you must be prepared to deal with Christian hate. Your name is going to be dragged through the mud, you will be accused of all manner of nonsense, and your home address may be published. In short, you are going to be the victim of a campaign of terror. You had better be comfortable working with your local law enforcement officials or protecting yourself through other means because it may be necessary to do so.
Is it any wonder that more of us lack the courage to stand up for church-state separation in our communities? This is precisely what some Christians are counting on. Even if they would not personally threaten us, they know that others will. Some may even publicly condemn those who make the threats while feeling satisfied to see us getting what "we deserve."
I see three important steps for us to take here. First, more of us need to come forward in defense of separation of church and state. As difficult as it is, there is real strength in numbers. To the degree that such cases become more common, it will be increasingly difficult for Christians to get away with threats of violence. Second, we need to be ready and willing to call out Christian hate and bigotry whenever it appears. By calling attention to it and labeling it for what it is, we reduce its potency and educate others that it is unacceptable. Third, we need to support those who are coming forward. It has been very encouraging to see the support Jessica Ahlquist is receiving from the atheist community. By providing as much support as we can, we provide a sort of counter-weight to the vile things coming from some Christians.
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