AUTHOR: RIKA CHRISTENSEN 10:30 PM
A Christian man has won the right to sue the state of Oklahoma on the basis of freedom of religion, due to its depiction of a particular sculpture on its standard license plate. The picture, which is of the statue known as “Sacred Rain Arrow,” was sculpted by the late Oklahoma artist Allan Houser, and is part of Oklahoma’s heritage. However, the plaintiff, Pastor Keith Cressman, argued that having the plate on his car implies that he approves of belief systems that run contrary to Christianity.
The lone dissenting opinion in the 10th Circuit Court’s 2-1 ruling said that Cressman did not successfully prove his case that the image promotes pantheism, animism, and other types of belief systems, and that people in general were not necessarily likely to perceive the image the same way as Cressman. The majority opinion stated otherwise, and noted that Cressman’s only option to the standard plate was to purchase a more expensive novelty plate, making this an infringement on his religious freedom.
Cressman originally filed the lawsuit in 2011, and saw the case dismissed. However, in 2012, the 10th Circuit reinstated it, giving Cressman back his lawsuit.
This is quite typical of Christians who seem to think their freedoms are under some type of massive attack in the public sector. Texas governor Rick Perry recently signed a bill into law allowing public schools to display “traditional” Christmas symbols, saying, “Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.” While the bill does appear to make attempts to encompass winter symbols of all faiths, government endorsement of faith, any faith, violates the Establishment Clause.
Kentucky’s governor recently vetoed a bill that would have, more or less, allowed people to ignore laws they felt were in contravention of their religious beliefs. This bill was in response to increasing opposition to granting the LGBT community the same rights against discrimination that everyone else is supposed to enjoy, but the vague language would have allowed people to do what they wanted solely on the basis of a “sincerely held belief.” Washington State is currently working on a similar law.
Running a search in Google for “Christian oppression in America” turns up lots of results debunking the idea, but also some results explaining just how American Christians are losing their freedoms and being subject to persecution. Rep. Stan Lee, of Kentucky, cried that “they” were trying to take God out of everything, and pointed to the Pledge of Allegiance as an example of that and asking, “You don’t think your religious freedom’s under attack?”
Then there’s David Brody, talking about how people who stand up for Biblical values and traditions (specifically, traditional marriage) are ridiculed more than those in the LGBT community, and that evangelicals are becoming a scorned minority, the way that gays “used to be.” (They still are in many circles.)
One has to wonder what Cressman, and others, would have done had Oklahoma’s plate had an indirectly Christian symbol on it, and an atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Pagan, or just someone who saw the wrongness of it, tried to sue on the basis of freedom of religion. It’s likely that they would be screaming about how the lawsuit was just another example of people trying to force their beliefs onto Christians, and how so-called Christian persecution in America is worsening.