It may seem radical to say it these days, but it’s true: America is a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values. Words from scripture are inscribed on our money and our most hallowed institutions, including Congress, the US Supreme Court and state capitols everywhere. Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges our “Creator” as the being from whom all our rights flow.
This does not mean that other religious groups are not welcome in America. Of course they are. People who practice no religion at all are also welcome.
But while the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, we are no longer a nation that fully supports the right to hold or express Judeo-Christian views.
I have experienced this first-hand. When I was the scholar-in-residence at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., I proudly and openly identified as a Christian woman of color. In October 2021, I criticized DC Comics for making Superman’s son bisexual, saying in a tweet, “I don’t get why this is necessary. I don’t! What if Christian parents of children reading comic books don’t want their kids exposed to bi-sexual characters? This is being pushed on kids.”
Straight away, my private tweet was brought into my public university workplace, and my Christian faith was attacked as a “cover for my homophobic views.” I was deemed “homophobic,” “unsafe” and “violent” by an openly bisexual faculty member, who then incited colleagues, university officials and students against me. Students at my college protested and demanded I be removed from my post, and despite the fact I deleted my tweet, wanted to hold a campus forum to discuss the matter, and twice expressed regret for causing offense, I was sidelined for the remainder of my tenure, and was told I would not be invited back to teach or otherwise.
I fully agree with the fact that “marginalized groups” have the right to be heard. Their viewpoints should be respected, and protected, in our public educational institutions and even private corporations. But so should the views of Christians. And finally, the Supreme Court seems to agree with me.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that our separation of church and state does not prohibit public school employees from praying near students aloud on the job. The case was sparked by Washington state high school football coach Joe Kennedy who often prayed post-game at the 50-yard line, joined by his players. He was disciplined and then fired for doing so.
The thing that bothers me most about how people of faith, like Kennedy and myself, are treated is that we are just cut off. Thrown out. Removed. As if we are these hateful, bigoted religious cultists who just want to push our faith on others. That is simply not true. We have a viewpoint. We have a faith that informs how we live and think. A lens through which we process, just as I also have a specific perspective as a black female in America. I do not want to tell others how they should live and think. I simply want to be heard as every American should be.
Academics need to read Title IX more closely: religion is a protected class, just like race, gender and sexual orientation (including heterosexuals). Giving the rights of some groups priority over the rights of religious persons is not America. If “woke” Americans are starting to wonder why there has been such a big pushback on “cancel culture” or “viewpoint diversity” lately, it is because people of faith are tired of being attacked, labeled, isolated and treated as if we are not allowed to express opinions, too.
It is about being silenced. And punished, facing “consequences” if we simply express a faith view.
We cannot go on this way. No one group is superior to another. We have to start building bridges of understanding or the freedom of speech we all cherish will no longer mean anything in this country.
Sophia A. Nelson is the author of the new book “Be the One You Need: 21 Life Lessons I Learned While Taking Care of Everyone but Me.”