I participated in a conversation about Project Blitz and religious liberty with colleagues from across Christendom and Judaism last fall and have been thinking about it ever since.
Participants introduced themselves, including our names, the ministries for which we worked (if applicable), our denominational affiliation and why we decided to attend the conversation.
I am ordained American Baptist; religious liberty is at the core of my Baptist-ness (I have Jesus, too!). Sometimes Baptists (especially those who were ordained in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) think that we invented religious liberty, thanks to Roger Williams. I realized that I omitted a central component of my answer after the introductions ended. It is so central that it reflects the core of my identity, hence, my attendance at the conversation: As a black American woman, a conversation about my religious life in this country is a conversation about my personhood.
I wonder if this sentiment rings true for other religious black Americans. The Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that eight in ten black Americans identify as Christian, and seven in ten are Protestant. Black Americans represent various Christian expressions in this study. Of course, many black Americans practice other faiths, including Islam, Judaism and non-monotheistic faiths.
Until recently, my religious liberty felt relatively secure. I am a racial minority, which means that I live in a state of relative insecurity in this country. Yet, belonging to the religious majority can offer some insulation from ecclesial and societal bigotry. However, religious liberty, more accurately its distortion and current weaponization as implemented in Project Blitz, is yet another element that threatens my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
The purpose of Project Blitz, according to its founders, is, "to protect the free exercise of traditional Judeo-Christian religious values and beliefs in the public square, and to reclaim and properly define the narrative which supports such beliefs."
I believe this does not reflect religious liberty. First, it privileges "Judeo-Christian religious values and beliefs" over all other religions. "Judeo-Christian" acknowledges Judaism in so far as Christianity finds its roots therein. In reality, it espouses only Christian "values and beliefs." Highlighting one religion's value and belief system excludes many others as well as those who do...