The Jim Crow Era is not a time of fond memories for African-Americans. During that period in American history, African-Americans suffered brutality at the hands of white southerners determined to keep the races separate and totally unequal. Across the South, African-Americans faced heavy discrimination. Laws were passed to keep them from voting. Business owners were allowed to ban them from being served. Many African-Americans suffered brutal violence and even lynching. Needless to say, African-Americans suffered greatly during this era. In the present day, a conservative Christian organization is predicting that within the next fifty years, Christians across the country will be treated nearly the same way.
On Wednesday, the American Family Association sent an email to its members describing what they believe is going to happen to religion in America by 2060. The email, first obtained by ThinkProgress , reads as follows:
“What will religion look like in the year 2060? Conservative Christians will be treated as second class citizens, much like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Family as we know it will be drastically changed with the state taking charge of the children beginning at birth. Marriage will include two, three, four or any number of participants. Marriage will not be important, with individuals moving in and out of a “family” group at will. Church buildings will be little used, with many sold to secular buyers and the money received going to the government. Churches will not be allowed to discuss any political issues, even if it affects the church directly. Tax credit given to churches and non-profit organizations will cease. Christian broadcasting will be declared illegal based on the separation of church and state. The airwaves belong to the government, therefore they cannot be used for any religious purpose. We will have, or have had, a Muslim president. Cities with a name from the Bible such as St. Petersburg, Bethlehem, etc. will be forced to change their name due to separation of church and state. Groups connected to any religious affiliation will be forced out of health care. Health centers get tax money from the state, making it a violation of church and state. Get involved! Sign THE STATEMENT.
Sincerely, Donald E. Wildmon”
As you can see, the AFA believes 75 percent of Americans are about to be treated like African-Americans during the Jim Crow Era. Sounds completely crazy, doesn’t it? First, AFA says government will assume control of children and that marriage will not be important. This is clearly a reference to same-sex marriage and LGBT families. For years, AFA has stated its ridiculous belief that same-sex marriage weakens heterosexual marriage. AFA also opposes the adoption of children by same-sex couples, believing that children could be indoctrinated into being homosexuals and therefore, should only be raised by male and female parents. In other words, AFA is obsessed with the ‘Leave It To Beaver’ 1950s television series family model. The fact is, family units and the definition of marriage have changed since the beginning of time. Allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children will not lead to government taking our kids away nor will it weaken the importance of marriage.
The AFA also claims that government will use separation of church and state to seize and sell churches, ban religion from the airwaves and take tax credits and exemptions away. The first point to make clear here is that churches are private property. Government cannot own and operate churches. That would be a violation of separation of church and state. Banning religion on the airwaves would violate freedom of speech, however, the FCC can regulate hate speech. It’s one thing to talk about religion or deliver religious sermons on the airwaves, but it’s a completely different ballgame when a religion preaches hate speech. Such speech poses a threat or danger to those who are the subject of the speech. That being said, while the government can and should regulate hate speech, it all too often ignores it.
Something else the government has ignored for far too long is religious institutions that preach politics from the pulpit yet remain tax exempt. The reason people are calling for churches to be taxed right now is because religious officials have made every effort to insert themselves in government and policy decisions while at the same time taking advantage of the tax code to make billions. Many religious institutions, particularly on the right, have donated to right-wing politicians and right-wing groups. Many Americans feel that if religious institutions are going to play in the political world, they shouldn’t get to avoid paying taxes. But again, it’s unlikely that government will change the tax code and President Obama hasn’t made any indication that he wants to tax churches.
Another claim the AFA makes is that government will change the names of towns with biblical names and will ban religion from being involved with health care. Americans have named and renamed communities, towns, and cities for centuries. There are literally thousands of towns with religious sounding names and the government has more important things to deal with. It would be a significant waste of time and money to change the names of towns. Plus, such a move risks igniting anger in the millions of voters who live in these places. The AFA also seems to be confused by health care as well. When the Obama Administration ordered insurance companies to offer contraception to all employees of religious organizations, it wasn’t an attack on religion. President Obama was merely preventing religious institutions from forcing their beliefs on others. Religious organizations do not have the right to make health care decisions for anyone. That’s a right reserved entirely for individuals. AFA is complaining because they want to control the reproductive choices of women and they’re throwing a tantrum because President Obama stopped them from doing so.
Within the email, the AFA mentions that “we will have, or have had, a Muslim president.” The entirety of this email seems to stem from the right-wing hatred of President Obama and their utterly unsubstantiated conviction that he isn’t an American or a Christian, but a secret Muslim who seeks to destroy America. Of course, there is no evidence to support such a conspiracy theory. And last time I checked, there is no religious requirement to be President in the Constitution.
The AFA’s idea that Christians will be subjected to Jim Crow Era oppression is laughable and is an insult to anyone who has ever been oppressed. It’s also really hypocritical considering the discrimination that the Christian Right has hurled towards Muslims, atheists, and the LGBT community in recent years. The AFA is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is guilty of discriminating against these groups of people. This email is merely an attempt to scare people and as ridiculous as it is one thing is for certain. As long as America changes, AFA will be there to spread fear, complain, and play the victim all while oppressing people themselves.