Religion undermined Inaugural’s call for unity, FFRF’s Seidel writes

1AndrewSeidelPressSmallProtecting our democracy is a secular issue. FFRF explained this a few weeks ago and it’s something we want our members and the wider country to understand. We paid special attention to the groups that oppose full enfranchisement and voting rights for all Americans. Earlier this week, during a hearing on H.R. 1, the For the People Act, one of the opponents of democratic reform (that’s “democratic” with a small “d”) justified racist voter suppression by citing her bible and “In God We Trust.” FFRF’s Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel has penned an op-ed for Religion Dispatches skewering Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Seidel begins:

Christian Nationalism is like a skeleton key that can help us understand the motivations for some of the worst public policy proposals over the last few years. From anti-masking and challenging public health orders, to gun fetishists and police brutality, to anti-Semitism. And from seemingly ceremonial declarations like National Bible Week to attacking the Capitol and our democracy, Christian nationalism explains so much.

Even so, this understanding usually comes from data and scholarly study. It’s rare to hear a politician openly use Christian Nationalism to, for instance, defend voter suppression explicitly. Few have the courage to admit this tie so clearly. But yesterday, a bold senator from Mississippi, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith stood up and did just that.

At a committee hearing on H.R. 1, the For The People Act, the most important voting rights bill since the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Chuck Schumer mentioned a new Georgia voter suppression bill that targets minority voters, especially Black and Jewish voters. The bill would limit voting on Sunday, including early voting, and essentially shut down “Souls to the Polls” initiatives historically used by Black churches to get out the vote.

Hyde-Smith, the latest in a long and shameful line of senators from Mississippi — including mediocrities such as Theodore Bilbo and James Vardaman — rose to defend the measure that seeks to make it harder for people to vote if they don’t look like her. And she turned to a Christian Nationalist motto and the Bible to justify her defense of disenfranchisement.

Seidel concludes the piece by pointing out that Hyde-Smith’s rhetoric is precisely why we need to get back to the de facto original US motto. Please read the whole column on Religion Dispatches and then share it on your social media.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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