Do Christians Have Civil Rights?

Civil rights is a phrase whose origin can be traced back to the early 1700’s. The concept of individual civil rights can be traced back to England’s bill of rights in the 1600’s. Civil rights concept is almost perfectly interchangeable with constitutional rights. Constitutional rights typically refer to all of a US citizen’s rights protected by the US Constitution. Civil rights include constitutional rights while specifically referring to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and plethora of anti-discrimination laws. Civil rights are enforceable laws protecting rights and privileges of individuals in a group.

Do Christians have civil rights? I think we can all agree that Christians are a group. I think we can all agree the First Amendment prevents limiting the free exercise of religion. Constitutional rights certainly protect Christians and other religions. This still leaves it a little murky as to whether Christians has civil rights. When we look at the most famous civil rights legislation in the 20th century, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, we have our answer. This civil rights act (there were plenty more before this one) protects “all individuals”. In addition Title II, III, IV, and most of the eleven titles place religion as a protected class right along with race. Christians and other religious people without a doubt have as many civil rights as other groups.

What is religious discrimination? Religious discrimination is the unfavorable treatment or different treatment of an individual because of the individual’s religious beliefs. This includes sincerely held religious and moral beliefs. For example, if a Christian owned a business and was denied zoning, building permit or anything else that was needed to participate in the economy solely based on their religious belief is discrimination. It is a violation of their civil rights.

Let us consider other groups in the same situation. Imagine Mayor Thomas Manino, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, alderman Joe Mareno, or city councilwoman Christine Quinn opposed an establishment of business based solely on their race! Instead imagine those same people opposing female business owners. It would be a crime and equally so if discrimination was based on religion.

If you’re still not convinced then consider President Obama’s position on civil rights as stated on his webpage.

“…He knows that our country grows stronger when all Americans have access to opportunity and are able to participate fully in our economy…” [emphasis added]

The religious discrimination in our nation seems to steadily increase. A couple of high profile incidents come to mind. In 2008 McCain – Palin lost the election yet Gov. Palin’s church was set on fire. In 2010 the Cross in the Mohave Desert dedicated to WWII vets was stolen. Now most recently officials in Chicago, Boston, and NY have intimidated and threatened Chick-Fil-A because of the religious and moral beliefs of the franchise owners. President Obama should be appalled. Attorney General Holder should be investigating. The Civil Rights Commission should launch a parallel investigation.

The franchise owners and private owners of Chick-Fil-A restaurants have had their civil rights violated. You won’t find the Rainbow Coalition protesting. The Black Panthers don’t have a $10k bounty on anyone. What is going on is a peaceful expression of support for free speech and civil rights by being a patron of the Chick-Fil-A. This is powerful movement that any civil rights leader could envy. I’m feeling like chicken.

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