Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who is currently (one might say justifiably) running third in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary race, is apparently not sure if the Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion apply to Islam, which happens to be the world’s second-largest religion – right after Ramsey’s own religion.
This incident of gross stupidity and intolerance (it can only be both) took place at a recent event in Hamilton County, TN. Ramsey, responding to an audience question regarding the “threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims,” pretended support for the Constitution and the whole “Congress shall make no law” rigmarole when it comes to religion but voiced reservations about Islam’s status as a religion, claiming it’s more of a “cult” than a religion.
“Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it,” Ramsey said. “Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face.”
If you want to start pulling out your guides to what constitutes a cult, you will quickly see that Christianity qualifies in many ways as a cult. And this is to ignore the terrifying prospect of religion mixing with politics – which is the purpose of the Constitutional guarantees Ramsey pretends to support. Our Founding Fathers lived at a time in which governments supported state religion and of course deprived minority religious groups of their rights. I have in my family tree a French Huguenot, a protestant, who fled Catholic France for a chance of religious freedom in the New World. The Catholics then spoke of protestants in much the same way Christian conservatives in this country speak of Muslims, as non-people, a non-religion, an infestation to be stamped out.
Talk about a religious group controlling the US government to the extent that it decides which religions are religions and which are not is one that should not be taking place in this country. Christianity has made it quite clear that Christianity is the only true religion, that it is more equal than other religions, etc. This is fine. They have a right to feel that way. They do not have a right to impose it as public policy. That’s why we have the Constitutional guarantees Ramsey treats so carelessly.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson is the author of A Heathen’s Day, which since 2005 has addressed the life and thoughts of a modern day Heathen. He is also the founder of the Mos Maiorum Foundation (www.mosmaiorum.org) which is dedicated to the study and support of Paganism as ethnic religion and writes for PoliticusUSA (www.politicususa.com)