Statement by Freethought Today editor Annie Laurie Gaylor

Hugging the Chains that Bind

Sultaana Freeman took her legal fight to keep her head veiled for the photograph on her driver’s license to court this week. Freeman was pictured in an Associated Press photograph in her voluntary burqa, veiled from head to toe, with only slits for her eyes.

She testified in the Orange County courtroom in Orlando, Fla.: “I don’t unveil . . . because it would be disobeying my Lord.”

This is not some case of a Muslim immigrant fearful, perhaps, of retribution from devout male relatives. Freeman, who used to be a Baptist preacher, converted to Islam.

It is unfortunate the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is representing her in her fight against common sense, asking the state for an unreasonable accommodation of her professed religion. As Assistant Attorney General Jason Vail said: “I don’t think there can be any doubt there is a public safety interest.” Imagine the bad precedent a ruling in her favor would set, and the difficulties posed to law enforcement!

What is even worse is this woman’s deliberate choice to turn her back on two hundred years of progress for women’s rights in this country, to wrap herself in purdah, and to adopt “obeying my Lord” as her principal purpose in life.

Her case is not so very different from that of Rachel Honer, a senior at Winneconne High School, Wis., who last week filed a lawsuit against her school district for asking her to edit a Christian praise song, “He’s Always Been Faithful” before singing it at graduation. The lyrics include: “I can’t remember one single regret/In serving God only, and trusting His Hand.”

Honer had applied to a school committee to speak at graduation, then asked to sing instead. When she submitted the lyrics to this ultra-religious song, the school principal correctly told her it was unacceptable unless she changed the three references to “God” (even then, the worshipful intent of the song is clear).

The Rutherford Foundation is representing her in this trouble-making fight to unnecessarily inflict religion on the graduation ceremony’s audience.

Although one embraces the Koran and the other the Christian Bible, these women belong to the same sisterhood of self-imposed subjugation. These handmaidens of religion not only embrace sects that place women in second-class status, but are seeking to weaken the wall of separation between church and state that protects other women from such repressive religious sway.

Frustrated with the political myopia of young women who joined the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony once exclaimed: “How can you not be all on fire? . . . I really believe I shall explode if some of you young women don’t wake up–and raise your voice in protest. . . ” What would Susan B. Anthony think of these two lawsuits?

Many of the freethinking pioneers of the feminist movement warned women proselytes that religion asks everything of woman, yet gives her nothing in return. How disappointing to see the slavish devotion of many women today to the ties that bind.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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