When Will the Rising Tide of Bias Against Christians Stop?

When Will the Rising Tide of Bias Against Christians Stop?
AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
When Will the Rising Tide of Bias Against Christians Stop?
AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
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The rising tide of intolerance against Christians in the U.S. has found a new platform for persecution — the spouses of public service officials.  Karen Pence, her husband Vice President Mike Pence, and by proxy the current administration, have been accused by the media of  “making a statement” against LGBT people because Mrs. Pence has chosen to teach art at a Christian school. The question was even raised as to whether taxpayers should continue to pay for her Secret Service protection.   

This is part of a striking and alarming trend — a trend that uses a religious litmus test to determine if individuals are fit for public service and demands that those in office deny their conscience and beliefs. Freedom of religion is a First Amendment right set forth by our Founding Fathers, not some new conservative fad adopted since the Trump administration came into office.

Using a religious litmus test as a prerequisite to serve in office is unconstitutional, yet the current list of examples of this trend is too long:  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.)  said of Judge Amy Coney Barrett,  Catholic “dogma lives loudly within you”; the Christian views of Russell Vought, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, were called Islamophobic by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) repeatedly asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his confirmation hearing, “Is gay sex a perversion?”; and most recently Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) challenged federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher about his ties to the Knights of Columbus, an international Catholic service organization with almost 2 million members.

More examples can be cited, especially with regard to our Senate Judiciary Committee. This trend has now spread to accusing the spouses of our public servants of bigotry and hate for their religious beliefs, and it must stop.   

Immanuel Christian School, where Mrs. Pence works, is an institution that has educated children and served the community in Northern Virginia for 43 years. All people are welcome; however, the school asks that its applicants be followers of Christ and adhere to certain standards of conduct regarding sex and marriage. These are the same standards of conduct that have been part of the teachings of Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam (to name just a few religious faiths) throughout their long histories.   

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 5.8 million elementary and secondary school children (pre-K through 12th grade) are enrolled in private institutions, making up more than 10 percent of all school enrollment in the U.S. Particularly important to note is that about 67 percent of these have a “religious orientation or purpose.”  

The majority of these religious educational organizations are Roman Catholic and African Methodist Episcopal, but the list also includes Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and more. Are these 23,000 religious educational institutions, which consist of almost 336,000 teachers, 4 million schoochildren and their parents and families, also bigots, or could it possibly be that they hold and live by their moral and religious beliefs? Should we scrutinize the teachers, students, and standards of conduct of each of these schools as well?

Penny Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization.

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