The Wall of Separation Between Church and State has had some holes punched in it over the past few years by those wanting everyone to believe, erroneously, that the US is some kind of 'Christian nation.' When we think about it, we all know that the only way that I can be free to follow my own religious beliefs is to allow you to be free to follow your's. And the only way that can be accomplished is if no one group's tenets of faith are enacted as the law of the land.
After all, if the United States were to be a 'Christian nation,' which brand of Christianity would it espouse?? Catholicism? Or would it be Lutheran? Quaker? Greek Orthodox? Unitarian? Coptic? Southern Baptist? American Baptist? These faiths differ, in beliefs and in interpretation of the Bible. The nations of Europe fought many long, destructive wars over the domination of a single faith. We have no need to duplicate that level of death and destruction on this continent.
This was the belief of both Democrats and Republicans for many, many years. Live, and let live. Serve your God in your own way. And this belief served America well. People of wildly different faiths worked together as one to make this nation great.
But in more recent years, we have seen a rise in intolerance from those whose speak the loudest about their faith. Starting with Darwin's challenge to the 'history' of the Bible we have seen a retrenchment, an insistence that the Bible is an absolute, (absolute by ONE interpretation, at least), not parables and wonderful stories we can learn from to make ourselves better persons. The concept of evolution, the rise of scientific knowledge, the recognition of women as individual persons rather than property, have been taken by some as a threat to their beliefs. Their response has been attempts to use the forces of society to not only validate their particular system of beliefs but to force those of other faiths to yield primacy to their way of thinking.
And those people have set about punching holes in the Wall of Separation Between Church and State. Some want women back in their historical 'place' and enact laws limiting access to abortion and birth control. Women weighed down with repeated pregnancies and lots of children are not working outside the home and demanding paid maternity leave. Some want to shield their children from any knowledge that there is more than one faith in this world by limiting what can be taught in schools. Some don't stop there, but want the state's tax revenue to pay for their children to attend private religious schools. Some want a morality test for anyone running for public office--Is s/he one of us? if not, they can't be a moral person so don't vote for them. Some want the tenants of their own faith enacted as law of the land, for everyone who lives here.
Some of these zealots are Republicans. But not all Republicans are zealots.
There are some wonderful Republicans in this state, and this lady is one of them. Ronda Jones.
The Stokes News reports as follows (emphasis my own):
Commissioner Ronda Jones surprised the Stokes County Board of Commissioners Monday night with a request that the board consider a resolution supporting the separation of church and state as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
She told the board her request for the resolution was a reaction to public comments prior to the recent passage of a resolution supporting HB2.
“I am going to speak on behalf of all the Christians that believe in love, acceptance and peace,” she said. “Those recently labeled as phony Christians. Because of my respect for the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, I have tolerated being insulted as Commissioner and Christian repeatedly, but, as of today, I will be asserting my own freedom of speech.
“For those of us who believe in love, acceptance and peace, we must gain the courage to no longer allow someone else’s religious view to be promoted as superior to our own,” she added. “I encourage all ‘phony Christians,’ like myself, to look in the eyes of those who judge our religion or beliefs and say, enough, no more.”
Jones argued that recent attempts to use religious beliefs as a basis for laws and policy was nothing but bullying.
“I would like to apologize to all the phony Christians for allowing Mr. and Mrs. Timm to have your freedom of speech while we have enabled you to have ongoing toxic and dangerous rhetoric,” said Jones. “I apologize that we phony Christians gave you a false sense with our silence that we agree with your determination to not honor the separation of church and state. Not to worry, it won’t happen again. If anyone uses their personal religious beliefs to execute legislation or laws devoted to their beliefs clearly it is an establishment of religion which is prohibited according to the First Amendment.”
Jones told the board she had recently attended a Baptist Joint Committee, a Christian group focused on separation of church and state, meeting in Greensboro and noted that Baptists had frequently suffered persecution throughout history because of state sanctioned religion.
“Religious liberty is best protected when church and state are institutionally separated and neither tries to perform or interfere with the essential mission and work of the other,” she said. “Separation has been good for both church and state.”
Jones also encouraged voters to question future candidates on their position on the separation of church and state.
“I will not vote for any candidate that does not or current elected official who have demonstrated disregard for separation of church and state,” she said. “I will not support any form of legislation that places hardships or disadvantages on law abiding, tax paying citizens, due to being different than myself, for either religious or personal beliefs.”
Other commissioners had little to say about Jones’ comments....
And so we have a new hero, a Republican hero. One brave enough to stand up in her own community and say, Enough Is Enough. She is my new hero.
I will stand up in my community.
I will work to stop the bullying.