HomeFaithOPINION: Elected officials have religious freedom, too

OPINION: Elected officials have religious freedom, too

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

This past weekend, Christianity celebrated the resurrection of Jesus with the annual holiday that is Easter.

For whatever reason, Christianity as a religion has become a hot button issue that causes public entities to either embrace or stay away from as much as possible.

The main two Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter – are celebrated across our culture even outside Christianity enough that other symbols over the last couple of centuries have become acceptable of each of these holidays without incorporating Jesus Christ – virgin-born and dead, buried and resurrected – into their acknowledgements.

Public entities and corporations want to acknowledge the holiday, so they’ll post something on their social media about the holiday, but instead of mentioning the actual reason for the holiday that’s being celebrated, they’ll include Santa Clause or a Christmas tree in December. This past weekend, a lot of entities, including most here locally wished everyone a happy Easter with graphics that included eggs and rabbits but nothing mentioned about Jesus.

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger did not follow that trend. He mentioned on his personal Facebook page the resurrection of Jesus, and that was offensive to some who aren’t Christians.

That’s understandable. I’m pretty sure if any of our local entities were to wish everyone a happy Ramadan or Hannukah, I wouldn’t be happy about it since neither of those are part of my religion. But at the same time, I hope I’d just keep scrolling since the post would have nothing to do with me.

I actually got into a debate with a non-Christian who acted offended in the comments, telling Conger to keep his religion out of his government. SPOILER ALERT: We went back and forth for a fairly high number of rounds, and surprisingly, neither of us changed our minds from our original stances.

But the other person seemed to have a misunderstanding about the separation of church and state.

When those who made their way to the new world from Europe a few centuries back looking for religious freedom that influenced the founding fathers to include freedom of religion in the First Amendment, they wanted to live in a place where a religion wasn’t forced on them by their local government.

So when the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, that ensures that every American has the freedom to practice whatever religion they claim however they want to as long as that worship method doesn’t encroach on or harm any other person.

What the Constitution doesn’t do is prohibit anyone who works for the government or is an elected official from practicing their religion when they’re not working.

So Scott Conger is the mayor of a city that has nearly 70,000 citizens. It’s highly unlikely that every single citizen claims to be a Christian. So out of respect for the non-Christians in Jackson, the U.S. Constitution forbids him from forcing everyone to be a Christian.

But when he’s on social media on his personal Facebook page, he has the same freedom that he does on Sunday morning when it’s time to go to church or when he’s in his own home to practice whatever religion he wants.

Because if we were to expect our elected officials to not practice any religion, I doubt there would be that many what would run for office and we’d also be forcing them to practice a religion they may or may not agree with, which is the worship of nothing, I guess.

So the First Amendment protects us from anyone else’s religion but forbids no one – even elected officials – from practicing their own.

Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at brandon@jacksonpost.news. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments