Yesterday’s post about the Wilmore, Kentucky water tower cross inspired today’s post, and, in fact, that’s what I set out to write yesterday. I didn’t want to get into the debate, which seems a bit pointless to me. What a wanted to talk about was a comment I had read in reference to it which read something like, “So it’s alright to pull headscarves off Muslim women?”
Let’s back up. So a nontheistic group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation is trying to get the town of Wilmore, Kentucky to remove a cross from their water tower. Many people, including residents of Wilmore, are upset about this, and one woman is even building dozens of white crosses to put up everywhere. The previous commenter meant, “So if it’s okay to remove Christian symbols from city water towers, it’s okay to pull headscarves off Muslim women, right? Because we apparently can’t have religious symbols anywhere.”
First off, no. No, you cannot go around yanking off religious symbols from people. You can’t remove a Muslim woman’s niqab, hijab, or other form of veil. You can’t remove a Jewish man’s yamaka. You can’t remove a Christian woman’s cross. You can’t derobe a Hare Krishna. You can’t burn a person’s Buddha tattoo. You can’t spray paint a person’s Jesus sweater. You cannot interfere with a private citizen expressing their religion.
Second, a private citizen wearing a religious symbol is not the same as a public/government entity displaying a religious symbol. Private citizens can have and express any religion they choose. Public entities must adhere to the separation of church and state and “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Public entities are supposed to be secular so that they can serve every person regardless of their religion. So removing a cross from a city water tower is not analogous to removing a Muslim woman’s veil.
Third, I am getting really damn tired of people bringing up Muslims every time a Christian tries to impose their religion on everyone. It happened constantly during Kim Davis’ last court hearing with everyone and their mother bringing up Muslims. “What if a Muslim man tried to prevent a woman from getting a driver’s license?” was the most common refrain. All of social media acted like Muslims are the primary offender in denying others their right when it was literally a Christian woman denying others their rights. All the major news stories in the past few years have involved Christians, whether it’s a pizza parlor refusing to make cater a “gay wedding” or a bakery refusing to make a “gay cake” or a Texas governor calling people to storm the capital building in reference to SCOTUS’ marriage equality decision. All of these people were Christians, and it’s usually Christians denying people their rights in this country – so why do we always bring up Muslims?
So this is a call to everyone to fucking stop bringing up Muslims when Christians do something shitty. Yes, I know you want to make a rhetorical point, and, yes, I know there are Muslims in the world who do shitty things, but we have got to stop making Muslims scapegoats. They are not the epitome of all evil. They are not what’s wrong with this world. They are not out to take away our rights. They are people with thoughts and feelings, and it probably doesn’t make any of them happy that we keep bringing them up in this manner. So just drop it, and focus your stunning wit on the people who are actually denying people their rights.