A reader quotes me:
"Can someone tell me, outside a few hostile enclaves on the intolerant left, where in America people feel pressured not to call themselves Christians?" Can someone tell me where such a leftist enclave is? I live in Berkeley, California, which, for obvious reasons, is often used in discourse on the right as shorthand for something like "where liberals rule the roost and conservatives / 'real Americans' are routinely eviscerated and spit-roasted." Yet, Berkeley has a very large number of churches and other places of worship and is home to the Graduate Theological Union, which has the largest theological faculty in the United States. Just plug "Berkeley churches" into Google maps and see for yourself. We are lousy with churches.
It is absurd and ridiculous to imagine that in Berkeley, certainly a "liberal enclave", folks are routinely – or even occasionally! – given a hard time for their faith. It's also an insult to the liberal embrace of First Amendment rights, which has special significance in Berkeley, to make such claims.
I defy you to identify a single "hostile enclave on the intolerant left" where people are generally attacked for their Christianity. It just does not happen. The mere postulation that such places exist are about as connected to reality as claims that there are places in the United States that have adopted sharia law.
There are, indeed, some places where there's a significant and real bias against Christianity – the professional academic world being one of the biggest. I am a junior academic at the beginning of my career as a professional philosopher and I feel tremendous pressure not to call myself a Christian. To do so openly in most professional settings could potentially be very damaging to my career. And I really don't want to call the entire academic world a "hostile enclave of the intolerant left."
Now, as I say that, it is (of course) in no way intended as a defense of Perry. The man is a disgrace to my faith.
When unpacking Rick Perry’s recent ad, you didn’t unpack his time-worn Christianist trope that "they have outlawed prayer in schools." We hear this over and over again. It is absolutely false and nobody seems to call them on it when they say it. Kids can pray in their public schools. What is unconstitutional is for the teacher or other staff member to lead prayers of other peoples’ children on the taxpayers’ dime. Here’s an excerpt from a circular from the National PTA and First Amendment Center (accessable here):
Generally, individual students are free to pray, read their scriptures, discuss their faith, and invite others to join their particular religious group. Only if a student’s behavior is disruptive or coercive should it be prohibited. No student should be allowed to harass or pressure others in a public school setting.
If doing so is relevant to the subject under consideration and meets the requirements of the assignment, students also have the right to express their religious views during a class discussion or as part of a written assignment or art activity.
How do you think Perry and his fellow Christianists would react if a teacher led a public school class in a wiccan chant or ceremony? How about a prayer to Allah? Nuff said …
Jeffrey Weiss has more on the myth that prayer during school is prohibited.