Chick-fil-hAte: Religious Freedom Has Nothing To Do With It

By now we’ve all heard about Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s stance on gay rights and the subsequent outrage in response to that stance. For many of us the anti-gay beliefs espoused by Mr. Cathy and his company came as a bit of a surprise. Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, were abuzz with posts and comments about Dan Cathy’s statements to The Baptist Press regarding the company’s support of  ”the biblical definition of the family unit.” For others, this news was far from out-of-the-blue. In March of last year, the LGBT rights group, Equal Matters published a report about the fast-food chain’s support of adamantly anti-gay groups, like Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, the latter of which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In May and September of last year,  LGBT rights activists protested the opening  of Chick-fil-A restaurants in Chicago and Hollywood, respectively; and in February of this year, students at NYU petitioned the university to close its Chick-fil-A franchise.

While, on the surface, the official position of Chick-fil-A and Mr. Cathy regarding gay-rights is, in the opinions of many, antiquated and unethical; dig a little deeper and that position moves from out-dated and wrong, to down-right fucking crazy-scary. Dan Cathy doesn’t just believe in the concept of traditional marriage (whatever the hell that means), he believes that we, as a nation, are inviting the wrath of his God for having the audacity to offer equal protection under the law to all of our citizens regardless of their sexual orientation. Or, as he puts it, for our “prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is.” Dan Cathy isn’t one of those misguided but otherwise benign Christians who is simply of the personal opinion that marriage should be between one man and woman until death parts them…No. He is one of those sinister and twisted Christians, like Robertson and Falwell, who honestly believes that there is some vengeful, wrathful force in the universe that will destroy us all for daring to treat people who differ from us with respect and dignity. That’s some scary shit right there, folks. Scary shit.

Now, to take matters from the scary to the mindbogglingly terrifying (yes, I am this freaked the hell out by this next bit), Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A are not merely funding groups that oppose same-sex marriage, (oh if only it was that bad) the two are funding a group that appears to support the systematic murder of homosexuals. In 2010, Family Research Council (FRC) gave $25,000 to lobby Congress to vote against a resolution, dubbed  ”Res.1064Ugandan ResolutionPro-homosexual promotion” by FRC, that would denounce Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. Now, it would be disingenuous to insist, without irrefutable evidence, that Dan Cathy or the rest of the company knew about the FRC’s efforts to influence Congress’ vote on the resolution; but given that FRC is on the SPLC’s list of hate groups and considering that stories about the FRC’s lobbying efforts have been on the internet since 2010, it seems unlikely that Dan Cathy was unaware of it.

Contrary to what some people, particularly supporters of Chick-fil-A, might think, the outrage being expressed does not merely pertain to Dan Cathy’s statement to The Baptist Press, nor is the boycott indicative of an anti-Christian plot to destroy religious freedom. Yes, for those of us who understand that sexual-orientation is neither a sin nor an abomination, the position of Chick-fil-A and its president is offensive; but our outrage actually goes deeper than that. A lot deeper. We’re not just angry that some religious, rich dude disagrees with same-sex marriage, we’re angry that he thinks the rest of us need to agree with him. Dan Cathy believes that same-sex relationships and our support of them are going to cause his God to destroy this nation. Dan Cathy believes that his religion should get to define marriage for us all. And Dan Cathy and his company have provided substantial financial support to organizations that not only aim to impose theocratic laws on us all, but that appear to support policies in foreign countries that would kill gays and lesbians.  This is why we’re outraged.

We’re not telling anyone to change their opinions, we’re telling them that under no uncertain terms do they have the right to use their personal beliefs to dictate how other consenting adults live their lives. Just as they want to be free to believe whatever’s floating around in their head, so too do those of us who have different beliefs or positions. If one expects one’s personal beliefs to be respected and protected then that person *must,* as a member of a democratic and secular society, extend that same respect and protection to everyone else.

I want to make something perfectly clear to the religious right, to Dan Cathy and his ilk, and I’m asking the rest of the reasonable people in America to do join me in saying it: We don’t want your world; it’s a sad, lonely, hateful place. Personally, I don’t give a flying-monkey’s ass what anyone believes or thinks. Have at it, it’s your life. I do, however, care when your ilk tries to tell me and those whom I love and respect how to live their lives. Then and only then do your beliefs become my problem. Your beliefs are your beliefs, nothing more and nothing less. Keep it that way.

(Originally written by Karen Lyn for Elephant Ocean on August 2, 2012. © Karen Lyn, 2011-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.)


The New American “Other:” Why Islamophobia in America is Nothing New and Why We Must Stand Against It.

Following September 11, 2001, as we went to war to battle terrorism in lands many of us couldn’t have pointed to on a map before hand, we also began to battle another enemy here at home. It’s an internal struggle with an internal enemy that wields a weapon that, unlike terrorism itself, has the power to destroy the nation we all love. The enemy is hatred, its weapon is the manipulation of fear, and it’s a struggle that affects us all.  In the weeks, months, and years since that clear, cool September morning, we have allowed hatred to manipulate our fears and to turn American against American, reciting rhetoric about who is a “real American,”  and to strip of us of our Constitutional rights, passing such laws as the Patriot Act and NDAA. Since that unexpected and heartbreaking morning, we have allowed our fellow Americans to suffer hate crimes and discrimination at the hands of bigots, to have their Constitutionally protected religious exercise threatened by xenophobes, and to be propagandized as the epitome of religious fanaticism. Since that mournful day we have created a new “other,” a new group of Americans to scapegoat and shun: The Muslim. And it is a shameful violation of our heritage.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental principal of the US. The Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment, is the foundation upon which this nation was built; it is the reason the US became, and still is for many, the destination for immigrants from all over the world. When the Jews of Eastern Europe began suffering from the violent pogroms of the late 18th and early 19th century, those who fled chose America because they knew that here they’d find some measure of protection. When people, who dared to speak out against the abuses of their leaders in places like the USSR, Cuba, or Sierra Leone, sought refuge they came to the US where free-speech was protected.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never been perfect. There have been times in the past, much like now, when we have forgotten what makes us a great nation; when a religious, ethnic, or political group was singled out, marginalized, and persecuted. For example, fear of Catholicism was one of the driving forces behind immigration quotas against  the number of certain European groups who could emigrate to the US; it was called National Origins Act of 1927, and it targeted Southern and Eastern Europeans, like the Italians, the Greeks, and the Polish, who were predominately Catholic. In fact, for much of our history Americans, who have been predominately protestant, willingly marginalized Catholics; hatred and distrust was so strong that JFK had to publicly promise that his allegiance lay with the US and not with the Pope. And during WWII, following the attack of Pearl Harbor, we allowed fear of being attacked again to give the government the power to round up over 100,000 Americans of Japanese decent,  across the West Coast, and place them in internment camps, violating their civil rights. Several times in our history we have, out of fear, allowed our free-speech to be limited; for example, during WWI, the fear of communism was so strong that we caved to it and allowed the US government, under the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act, to round up US citizens for simply voicing criticism of the government.

So, as you can see, this is not the first time we have faced this foe as a nation. It is not the first time that we have relented to it in the face of fear. But that does not make it ok, in fact it makes it worse. Why? Because we have been here and done this enough times to know better, to be better than what we have become. We have allowed xenophobia against Islam to erode so much of what makes this nation something of which to be proud, chief amongst them being the provisions of our First Amendment. Of this we should be ashamed and we should fight against it. This is why knowing our true history — the good, the bad, the triumphant, and the shameful — is so profoundly important. In learning from those times past we have the tools necessary to build an even stronger nation. In knowing the past we are less likely to repeat those mistakes with a new “other;” rather, we would be encouraged to strive even harder to protect the rights of *all* Americans and to endeavor to marginalize bigotry and hatred instead of our fellow citizens.

Religious Freedom: America’s True Heritage

The idea that Christianity, namely the Puriticanical version, founded America, which is an assumption made by religious and non-religious alike, is inaccurate. This is an assumption which overlooks the religious diversity that actually existed throughout the colonies, as well as ignores the fact that a few colonies were actually founded on the principle of religious freedom. For example, Pennsylvania, which was founded by the Quaker William Penn, allowed all manners of worship from Anglicanism to Judaism to Native traditions; and Rhode Island, which was founded by Roger Williams, who gave Jefferson the idea for “a wall of separation between church and state“, and Anne Hutchinson, also promised religious freedom to all residents. As time progressed more colonies, like Maryland, which passed its Act for Religious Toleration in 1649, began to allow religious freedom; although many did so only in practice and not by law.

When America became a nation, religious freedom was among the primary concerns of the people and the legislators alike, leading to fierce debates over what relationship, if any, should exist between state and religion. These debates eventually culminated in the ratification of the First Amendment, which effectively established secularism of state as the law of the land. Ironically, most of the chief proponents of religious freedom were churches, like the Anabaptist, the Methodist, and the Quakers all of whom petitioned their colonial, then state and federal, legislatures to uphold the truth that religion exists solely between a man and his god and that no government, least of all a republican one (as in a Republic, which is what we are), should attempt to coerce any citizen to believe what his heart and his mind have not determined for himself. In fact, in both the Journal of the Virginia House of Burgess and in the Journal of the House of the Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are a multitude of petitions from the mid-1700’s, following the height of the First Great Awakening, through to 1786 when Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom was enacted as state law, all from the various religious groups demanding religious freedom. There was one petition that even went so far as to argue that religious freedom must also include the “Moslem” (Muslim), who, like the Christian, does also believe that his religion is true. Futhermore, numerous letters were published in various colonial newpapers, such as the Virginia Gazette, throughout the late colonial and early Republican periods, which were written by Americans who argued in favor of laws which protected religious freedom for all.

Therefore, historically speaking, religious diversity, and thus freedom, is the true foundation of this nation. We must stop perpetuating the lie that Christianity, in any single form, is the foundation of America….because it is not. As stated in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, it never was and never will be.

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn, author post authors as listed on this blog, and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Myth of Sharia Law in America

Now, before I begin, I want to stress that I do not equate the following people with all Christians, nor am I arguing that their beliefs and actions are indicative of Christianity as whole; however, they have a significant following and are public figures, which makes their words and deeds a potential danger to our society as a whole.

There has been much talk, exaggerated and down-right crazy talk, among a number of uber-conservative “Christians,” from politicians like Michelle Bachmann to religious mouth-pieces like Pat Robertson, that Islamic Sharia Law is being imposed upon Americans. You see, what I find most ironic, in the disturbing sort of way, about such claims is that it is not the Muslims who are trying to implement some sort of religio-fascist law on America; rather, it is uber-conservative, pseudo-Christians, like Bachmann and Robertson, who are actually trying to do that very thing. Let’s look at some of the things these people advocate, shall we?

1) Anti-feminism: According to many uber-right wingers and pseudo-Christians, “radical” feminism is destroying America. Basically, women should, for the sake of their country, just recognize and accept that men, in many cases, are superior to them and should focus first and foremost on being what God intended them to be, wives and mothers. According to Teapublican darling, Michelle Bachmann, and CBN founder, Pat Robertson, one of the worst things about Sharia Law, and Islam in general, is the anti-woman stance it supposedly has. Yet, many of these “Sharia Law” decriers advocate limiting women’s rights. For example:

a) Keeping women out of combat: In Muslim nations where what we call Sharia Law (which, by the way, is not exactly what we think it to be — see links #1 below), like Saudi Arabia and Eritrea, women are kept from doing a number of things from driving to joining the military to even enjoying sex (see link #2 — warning, it’s disturbing). None of this is actually supported by the Qu’ran; in fact, some of Islam’s most important warrior heroes were women. Furthermore, the Qu’ran teaches that women should be educated in the same way as men, and that sexual pleasure is a must for both husbands and wives (see links #3; for a searchable on-line Qu’ran, see link #4). There are many people on the right-wing who advocate barring American women from combat, from Robert Bork, who wrote, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline,” to columnist and political pundit, Kate O’ Briene, to Pat Robertson himself (see links #5). This stance against women in combat roles is not unlike the “Sharia Law” some people on the right seem to fear so deeply.

b) Redefining rape to limit women’s reproductive rights: We’ve all heard of the shining piece of crazy turned legislation, HR3, entitled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which passed the GOP controlled House last month (see links #6). Uber-right wingers, such as Chris Smith (R-NJ), who sponsored the bill, and *every* conservative in the House (all Republicans and 16 conservatives Democrats—oxymoron, I know) voted to draw a line of distinction between forcible rape and statutory rape; or “didn’t ask for it, entirely,” vs. “asked for it.” I put it in this way because, essentially, that is the distinction being made here. The former, “forcible rape,” refers only to those incidents of rape in which a woman is beaten and/or held at gun or knife point. Whereas the latter, “statutory rape,” refers to all incidents of rape in which the victim knows or is acquainted with her attacker(s) and/or was drugged or coerced, even verbally threatened with physical violence, by her attacker(s); this includes “date rape” and incidents of incest. This attempt by the uber-conservatives to redefine rape is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to re-victimize the victim by not only making the victim take the blame for happened to her, “well, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten drunk” or “maybe you shouldn’t have been dressed like that,” and by forcing her to carry to term a pregnancy that was forced upon her. Rape, no matter how people (namely men) who have never endured it choose to try and define it, is a very traumatic experience for the victim. To tell a woman, no matter her age, that she wasn’t raped enough to qualify for a medical procedure is not only immoral, it’s inhuman. Furthermore, regardless of how any of us feels about abortion, it is a deeply personal and emotional decision. When a woman has to make that decision, she agonizes over it, she’s scared, and she’s usually in some kind of distressing situation: she’s too young, she’s too poor, she’s on her own with no one to help her, she’s been raped, she has health problems. Limiting a woman’s access to abortion services, especially by redefining rape, is not going to stop abortions, it is only going to make them more dangerous. This latest assault by the uber-right wing/pseudo-Christians on women’s reproductive rights is, in every way, exactly like the anti-woman stance of Sharia Law against which so many of them pretend to rail.

c) Women should dress with men’s lust in mind: We have all seen the images of women from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia donning the burqua, the head to toe cover-up so often associated with Sharia Law. The point to such extreme dress codes within ultra-conservative Muslim countries, which is an exaggeration of the dress code for which the prophet Muhammad actually calls in the Qu’ran, is because it is believed that the mere sight of even a woman’s wrist could lead men into uncontrollable lust. This claim is not unique to those Muslims who support forcing women to wear the burqua, in fact many Christians, even some who consider themselves fairly liberal, argue that women should be more mindful of how they dress so as to not provoke the lust of men (see links #7). Telling a woman that it is her responsibility to prevent men’s lust by covering herself as much as she can is nothing more than a means by which to absolve the man of his own responsibility to learn to control his own urges. The argument being made by the preacher in the article from , and those who think like him, is that if a man looks upon a woman with lust it’s because she dressed in way that made him do so. Again, this sounds an awful lot like the anti-Woman stance of the supposedly nigh Sharia Law.

2) Preventing Same-sex Relations in General: As with any of the Abrahamic traditions, and most other present-day religions, homosexuality if frowned upon in Islam, regardless of the interpretation of Sharia Law. Christianity has been no different; although not all modern Christians advocate homophobia or are anti-gay/lesbian, nor do all Muslims or Jews or Hindus, etc. However, as a whole most present-day religious traditions teach that being gay/lesbian is a sin. In extremely conservative Muslim nations, where rigid interpretations of Sharia Law are enforced, being gay/lesbian will not only prevent you from entering into certain social institutions, like marriage or military service; it is punishable by imprisonment and/or death. Now, while no one, of whom I am aware, on the far right has advocated the death penalty for same-sex relations, they do advocate barring same-sex couples from being able to marry, adopt children, serve in the military, and a number of them even advocate bringing back anti-sodomy laws (see links #8). 

3) No Secularism: Many uber-right wing and pseudo-Christians have, once again, begun pushing for the Christian state. According to the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Pat Toomey, and Pat Robertson, America is a Christian nation. From the first days at Plymouth Rock to the framing of the Constitution, Christianity is the law of the land according to them. Never mind that the word “God” is never mentioned in the Constitution and, while we are at it, let us just ignore the anti-establishment clause and the promise of religious freedom as laid out in the First Amendment or the fact that the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 explicitly states that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” Clearly, despite this evidence and a plethora of others, America is a Christian nation. This is exactly the kind of Sharia Law they claim to oppose: code of conduct and/or laws based upon religious teachings (see links #9). The only difference is that the version they support is based (somewhat loosely) upon the Judeo-Christian Bible rather than the Qu’ran. Nevertheless, forced adherence to religiously derived law is forced adherence to religiously derived law no matter how you try to cut it. 

4) No Democracy: We hear it said by the extreme right all the time, Muslim extremists and supporters of Sharia Law hate Democracy and will stop at nothing to prevent it. Wait a minute…this sounds awfully familiar. Didn’t Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, just sign a law which, under the guise of fixing the budget, dissolves democratically elected local governments? Yes, he did. Furthermore, the GOP in several states is attempting to place restrictions on citizen participation in the democratic process by implementing voter ID schemes (see links #10).

My point here, should anyone have misunderstood, is not to claim that religio-fascist laws are coming to America beyond a shadow of doubt, rather it is to point out the hypocrisy of these Islamaphobes. In reality most, if not everything, they claim to fear about Sharia Law are things that they actually support; from limiting the freedom to marry to controlling the lives of women, the “Christian” extreme-right have far more in common with extremist Muslims (not to be confused with all Muslims) than they care to admit. Furthermore, there is a real if only marginal threat here, one that we should not ignore: The “Christian” right honestly believes, of that I have no doubt, the things they say. They truly believe that same-sex marriage, abortion, and secularism are destroying America, despite the fact that the latter is the basis of our Constitution. They honestly want a nation whose laws are based upon their interpretation of the Bible. For these reasons we should not dismiss them as merely stupid or crazy, nor should we underestimate their determination to remake America in their own image. Islamic Sharia Law is not coming to America, not if the “Christian” right have any say in it; rather, if they had their way, we’d all be living under a forced religious state of their imagining.

Sources :


3) PA20&dq=women+warriors+in+islam&source=bl&ots= IQoWUdfNPT&sig=czOBJC5eTXEebkCJ0ubEPgCAAFU&hl= en&ei=GwTtTZDkB8TJgQeVoe3YCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct= result&resnum=10&sqi=2&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=women%20warriors%20in%20islam&f=false








© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Religious Freedom: It’s Not Just for Christians

I have noticed a lot of people getting all bothered that Good Friday was allegedly over shadowed by Earth Day, both of which were celebrated yesterday, by the mainstream media. The people expressing their dissatisfaction over what they perceive to be a blatant disregard for the day which marks the death of Jesus are, of course, Christian. While I understand and, as a former religious Christian myself, respect their belief in the holiness of this weekend, I still must say to them…Let it go.  Not everyone who believes in Jesus believes in his divinity; furthermore, not everyone in American is a Christian. While it may be a holy weekend for most Christians, for millions of other people it is not and we must respect that. This is why mass media does not jump on the religious aspects of holidays, they are trying to appeal to as many people as possible and Earth Day, honestly, has more mass appeal and is least likely to offend people.

Do Christians have the right to celebrate this weekend as holy? Of course, and I am not arguing that they do not. I have nothing against individuals saying that “this is what I believe (insert religious assertion here);” however, I do take issue with people who believe one thing assuming that others should or do as well. While I personally hope that there is a “God,” I don’t know for sure and am therefore more agnostic than anything. Nonetheless I believe Jesus was a real person who set a fantastic example of how we people should live and how we should treat each other. I also believe in the teachings of Buddha and I find a lot of merit in Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and the various indigenous traditions which are practiced around the world. However, I don’t expect everyone to see things from my perspective. With that said, what I do expect is for people to be respectful of the fact that not everyone has the same religious beliefs because that is the law of this land as stated by the 1st Amendment. The disestablishment clause not only protects all manners of Christian belief, and made it possible for all manners of Christian worship from Anglicanism to Mormonism to thrive; it also protects all other manners of belief and non-belief, from Agnosticism and Atheism to Islam to and Zoroastrianism.

My assertion is not based on personal opinion alone, but on my knowledge of our history. Many Americans do not seem to understand how close we came to not having the religious protection, which we now take for granted. In colonial America most colonies did not have religious freedom (save PA, RI, and MD), rather they had established churches. For example, if you lived in Virginia and you weren’t a member of the Anglican Church, you lived with the threat of potential imprisonment hanging over you. As the American Revolution was being fought, a battle for religious freedom was also being waged as other denominations, such as the Anabaptist and the Methodists, began demanding the right to worship freely. This eventually led to two bills being introduced into the Virginia legislature: the first was the Act for Religious Freedom by Jefferson (introduced in 1779, but not enacted until 1786), which would end religious establishment and protect all manners of worship.[1] The second was a bill by Patrick Henry (introduced in 1784, but rejected) which would have established Christianity as a whole not just Anglicanism as the official religion, and would have required all Virginians to support Christianity via their taxes.[2] Jefferson’s bill languished in the House for nearly a decade as the legislature debated it, proposing changes such as adding that religious freedom is protected by Jesus Christ because he would not have agreed with coercing people to be Christian; it was then weighed in comparison with Henry’s bill as many members of the House agreed with establishing the Christian faith. Luckily, multiple petitions were submitted to the House of Delegates by various groups in Virginia, many of them Christian, demanding that Henry’s bill fail to pass.[3]

In the end, Jefferson’s bill won out and influenced the 1st Amendment of our Constitution.[4] Had it gone the other way and Henry’s Bill had been passed then there is a very real possibility that the America we now take for granted may never have existed. We should all be very glad for the fact that there is no established religion as it has given everyone the right to chose for themselves what religion, if any, is right for them, this includes giving Christians the right to chose between the various denominations, rather than having the government tell us what to believe. Religious diversity is at the very foundation of this nation. So when the media promotes a secular holiday over a religious one, do not be offended but be glad that we live in a nation in which every religious and non-religious belief is protected under the law because without the disestablishment clause, which promises religious freedom for all, there would be religious freedom for none.


© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.