Defining Freedom




4 minutes

I don’t get to read much of The New York Times, but this article [pay walled] from last week caught my eye. Elizabeth Dias travels to Sioux Center, Iowa to discover why white evangelical Christians continue to support Donald Trump.

One of the points of the article is how the people interviewed often they mention that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

It was not.

Our nation was founded on the principles of religious freedom where people could practice any religious they believed in. But the freedom of religion also means the freedom to choose no religion. The word “God” is not used in the constitution because while our founding fathers may well have had religious belief, they also had a keen awareness that the government should not be tied to religion so that from then and into the future the freedom of religious beliefs shall forever be guaranteed.

Before you bring up the whole, “In God we Trust” on our money, that phrase was added to the money during the Civil War and should not be used to justify that we are a Christian nation.

In the United States, you have the freedom to be a Christian. Or a Catholic. A Baptist. Or even a Muslim. If you’re not sure you believe in any of those, you’re free to be Agnostic. In fact, in our nation, you can even be an Atheist. The freedom everyone has makes us stronger as a nation.

But we get to the crux of the article and then there is this quote:

“I do not love Trump. I think Trump is good for America as a country. I think Trump is going to restore our freedoms, where we spent eight years, if not more, with our freedoms slowly being taken away under the guise of giving freedoms to all,” [Caryn Schouten] said. “Caucasian-Americans are becoming a minority. Rapidly.”

White Americans are hardly losing their freedoms, but let’s be clear, this quote clearly shows that the word “Freedom” is thrown around to cover up the true words people want to say…because it sounds more patriotic, more American.

Freedom is not a Ball Mason Jar filled with pickled onions where you need to take some of your onions to give to someone else. Freedom is an unlimited resource that all Americans should have, should protect and should respect of everyone they meet. That’s patriotic. That’s American.

But she continues:

“If you are a hard-working Caucasian-American, your rights are being limited because you are seen as against all the races or against women,” she said. “Or there are people who think that because we have conservative values and we value the family and I value submitting to my husband, I must be against women’s rights.”

People do not judge you because you are a hard working Caucasian-American. People judge you for how you treat other people. I agree, if a wife believes that her place is to support her husband, her belief should be supported. But if a wife believes that she wants to start her own business, or run for Mayor of her hometown or even be a US Congresswoman, then in no way should she be prohibited from trying doing so.

What’s right for you, does not make it right for everyone.

However, if we try to define what “Freedom” means given this perspective, we are lost because Freedom is not what is at danger for evangelical Christians.

Nobody is forcing them to stop getting married, nobody is stopping them from reproducing and having kids. Nobody is stepping in to close their churches. And nobody is stopping them from living their life as they choose.

Yet, freedom is presented in terms of racial equality and in terms of women’s rights.

For evangelical Christians, does Freedom equate to being part of the racial majority? While I’m quite confident that every evangelical Christians will profess that they are not racist, but one can only wonder about the concern about “Caucasian-Americans…becoming a minority. Rapidly.”

One can wonder if evangelical Christians are worried that once Caucasian-Americans become a minority, the majority race will treat them the same way Caucasian-Americans treat minorities today.

But here’s the thing, when you look at the rhetoric about losing their freedom, one can only come to one conclusion.

Freedom, as defined by evangelical Christians and the Trump Republican platform, is about their right to control others and dictate what they can and can’t do.

They are against LGBTQ. These people should not be allowed to marry.

They are against abortion. Nobody should be allowed to get an abortion.

They are against interracial marriages. You should only marry within your race.

Freedom, you see, is about their right to control and dictate the morals everyone should be required to live by.

You start allowing LGBTQ people to marry or allow abortions to happen, then you’re taking away freedom from evangelical Christians.

That is not the way Freedom is defined.

Not in my country. Not in my America.

Freedom for one means freedom for all.


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