From CNS News:
Angelia Lott and Pamela Wedgeworth, who are sisters, told The Associated Press that the FEMA worker videotaping the cleanup on Saturday in the small town of Ebenezer asked them to do on-camera interviews but requested that they change out of their T-shirts because of a Salvation Army logo.
“He said, ‘We would like to ask you to change your shirt because we don’t want anything faith-based,'” Lott said Tuesday.
Lott said she asked him why he didn’t want to feature faith groups.
“All he said was, ‘We’ve done that hundreds of times,'” Lott said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement issued Monday that the man’s actions “in no way reflect FEMA’s policies or priorities.”
“The photographer in question was absolutely wrong,” Fugate said.
While I am immensely grateful that Mr. Fugate had the sense to acknowledge this, the outrageous behavior on the part of this FEMA worker highlights a much larger and more serious problem in our country today.
Unfortunately this is what we get when some in our society peddle this popular animosity toward Christianity–and when still others tolerate it. We end up with a culture where, either through ignorance or malevolence or both, some people feel justified in sanitizing the entire public square of any expression of religious belief or allegiance whatsoever.
Ironically, if this person did this through innocent ignorance, this means they are also woefully ignorant of our Constitution and our nation’s heritage.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free religious expression in the very first amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There is no law prohibiting these Christian relief volunteers from wearing a shirt identifying their religious organization, and this government official’s animosity toward an expression of Christianity in public was completely without legal or constitutional basis. These relief workers were there helping on their own time and their own dime, and it is completely insulting to insinuate that their Christian affiliation or the display of that affiliation in public is somehow inappropriate or undesirable.
If there were hordes of atheists or secularists out there helping people, they should be able to wear shirts displaying their Godless affiliation if they’d like. If Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or a carpenter’s union or the International Coalition of Elk Hunters came out to help with relief efforts, they, too, would be perfectly entitled to wear shirts displaying their affiliation. Yet such groups are not usually the ones found out helping people, and some find that to be an inconvenient truth that should be hidden.
Further, until the modern embrace of socialism, Americans and their leaders recognized that charity falls within the purview of the private sector, not the state. People and private organizations can give of their time, money and resources willingly to help others in need. Government has no resources of its own, and can only take them from others by force against their will and redistribute them; when private individuals do this, we rightly recognize it as theft. And as lesson after lesson teaches us, the federal government does few if anything more effectively or efficiently than the private sector.
Even with huge bureaucratic organizations like FEMA, and even with the massive unconstitutional wealth-redistribution of hundreds of billions of dollars by the federal government, the private sector–more often than not, Christians–does the lion’s share of hands-on helping of people in need. People like this ignorant FEMA worker probably don’t realize they are insulting and attempting do diminish our country’s greatest asset in helping the needy.
Ironically, the FEMA worker inadvertently acknowledged this with his dismissive statement, “We’ve done that hundreds of times.”
Yes, hopefully you have shown Christians hundreds of times helping people; it’s obviously been hard to avoid. So please don’t try to sweep the truth under the rug in favor of a sanitized secularist vision of what you want to be, but isn’t.