NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s advancing secularism is facing challenge and vigorous resistance by a citywide coalition of faith leaders.
Mayor Bloomberg’s faith or lack of faith is not my concern. His effort to scrub the public square clean of religion is an affront to me.
Bloomberg’s advocacy of secularism is a violation of First Amendment rights. By fiat and mayoral action, he has sought to make secularism the religion of New York City.
He forbade religious observance at the official 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Memorial Service. He has canceled rental agreements with over 60 faith organizations that hold weekend worship services in public schools.
The First Amendment’s establishment clause is meant to prohibit the government from creating a theocratic regime. As GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum correctly points out, the Constitution says nothing about the separation of church and state.
Religious freedom must be protected, not limited, by government. In fact, the first amendment is a restriction upon government, not religious groups and individuals. The secularization of New York City seems to be Mayor Bloomberg’s fervent mission.
In recent polls, 61% of New York-area residents report that religious faith is very important to them. Religious belief and spirituality, however, seems unwelcome in Bloomberg’s New York.
Rev. Michel Faulkner and other faith leaders have begun serious talks about denying the pulpit to Mayor Bloomberg, other public officials, and political candidates unless and until they pledge to end the war on religion. Faulkner says clergy leaders must demand that candidates for public office stand up for religious freedom.
Religious “disbelief” is not equivalent to religious belief and should not be given equal treatment. Nonbelievers are free to exercise their choice, but they are not free to impose that choice on everyone by insisting that religious voices be silenced.
The exclusion of religion from the public sphere is and of itself is a governmental imposition. As Americans, we must protect our religious liberty and freedom.