By Erin Drushel
There is a reason why I like the works of George Orwell so much. They are so relevant to the human condition. Everyday we are living those stories – and in America quite vividly.
The state of North Carolina recently proposed legislation to make Christianity the state religion and declare that their state was exempt from the Constitution of the United States of America. This Republican-devised legislation came about due to a legal feud with the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the requirement for Christian prayer prior to commissioners’ meetings in one particular county.
This legislation was wisely struck down by the Speaker.
What makes this story interesting – apart from the extreme one-up-man-ship response to the ACLU – are the results of a poll conducted by The Huffington Post asking Americans if they would welcome the establishment of state religions.
One third said yes, but 31% of the respondents didn’t know if it was constitutionally possible to establish state religions, while 11% said it is constitutional.
Now, my knowledge of American history is lacking. But one of the first things I did when I moved here was read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I can tell you the answer is no. It is not constitutional. This is in the very first amendment.
Apart from the giant failure in civics, the very idea of establishing a state religion goes against the fundamental rights upon which America was built. It is the very establishment of inequality. America is made up of many different people with many different religions. Yes, Christianity is a big one, but it’s not the only one.
And who was leading the charge? Members of the very party who like to wave the Constitution at every opportunity. The self-proclaimed champions of American ideals have members who act contrary to America. I suppose it’s not all that astounding. It’s the age-old problem: those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Mix that with religion and politics into one big melting pot and you have a major problem on your hands.
Blind patriotism with little to no knowledge of its foundations is dangerous and susceptible to enabling inequality and oppression. The very concepts the founding fathers felt they were fighting against when they declared independence.
The biggest domestic problem facing America today is Americans’ vision of equality. That which was declared “self-evident” at the birth of the nation is where they struggle most: income equality, marriage equality, equal access to healthcare, the right to make personal choices equal to everyone else, and equality of – or despite – religious affiliation.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – George Orwell, Animal Farm
Attempting to change the Constitution to allow for state religions is an attempt to legislate inequality. And though Article V of the Constitution recognizes the need for change to meet the needs of an evolving people, it was not meant to regressively rewrite the fundamental principles which led to independence.
Without those fundamental principles, America would not exist.
– Erin Drushel