Ken Connor

The freedom to speak freely is a hallmark of the American constitutional tradition, as is the freedom of religion. These twin liberties are two reasons why so many people have risked – and continue to risk – life and limb to make it to our shores. Not surprisingly, these freedoms often come into conflict with each another in the public arena. No one likes to see their deeply held beliefs insulted, degraded, or mocked, yet the right of free speech includes the right to criticize our neighbor's religious views. The moment we deny our citizens the right to criticize other people or their ideas, we will no longer be truly free.

By all indications however, our government appears to have developed a double standard when it comes to criticism of certain religious traditions – or, I should say, one such tradition. While other religious groups in America (Christians in particular) are expected to tolerate all manner of offenses, debasements, and outright attacks against their beliefs in the name of the First Amendment, Muslim Americans benefit from a government that goes out of it's way to avoid offending their religious sensibilities. In a country that has gone to sometimes extreme lengths to preserve the hallowed "separation" between Church and State, the question is, why?

Many Christians in America today feel that their religion is under attack, and with good reason. An attitude of skepticism and downright hostility towards Christianity has taken hold in many corners of society, resulting in actions that test the charity and tolerance of even the most pious believers. Revered Christian icons have been immersed in urine and smeared in elephant dung in the name of "art" (with the patronage of the federal government, no less), Jesus Christ and his followers have been portrayed as gay lovers in an off-Broadway play, personal faith testimonies and religious groups have been censored on high school and college campuses across America, a veterans' cross memorial in the California desert has been the target of an ACLU lawsuit, and Bibles have been burned by the U.S. government in the name of "diplomacy."

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.