Religious Liberty?

This is an idea that Christians in the United States love. That is to say, if the religious freedom you express is Christian.

The First Amendment Center surveyed 1,007 respondents’ opinions on the First Amendment and found:

Only a slim majority (56 percent) of Americans said in a 2007 survey that freedom of worship should extend to people of all religious groups, no matter what their beliefs (down 16 points, from 72 percent in 2000).

To be fair, I looked at the actual survey instrument and the question is worded to ask, “Do you feel that the freedom to worship as one chooses…applies to all religious groups regardless of how extreme their beliefs are, or was never meant to apply to religious groups that most people would consider extreme or fringe?” [emphasis mine]

Clearly, the respondents were of a different opinion than the group surveyed in 2000, probably due to the attacks of 9/11, where religious extremism is popularly, and, perhaps, incorrectly viewed by Christians as only a Muslim problem and not a Christian one. Yet, there are other questions asked that are somewhat revealing.

Teachers and other public school officials should be allowed to lead prayers in public school.

To this, 58% of those surveyed were in agreement -42% in strong agreement.

The nation‟s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation.

and

The U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation.

To these two questions, 46% and 38%, respectively, were in strong agreement. But one that stands out:

A public school teacher should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in a history or social studies class.

To that question, a full 50% were in agreement -33% in strong agreement

Christian pundits like Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris continuously whine about wanting to include Biblical teachings in public schools and cry foul that teachers are prohibited from leading prayers and stating that their god and superstitions are facts. Many genuinely believe that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation” and refuse to accept evidence to the contrary. What they want is religion taught in public schools, but not just any religion. They want their own brand of superstition.

Christians never seem to realize that the separation of church and state in public schools is an advantage for them. Instead they keep pushing to have religion re-introduced. I say they should be very careful what they wish for. It isn’t implausible that a modern American community could emerge with a predominantly Muslim (or Hindu) majority that demands their religion be taught as fact just as Christians do. What happens when the one or two non-Muslims return home from their public school with the news that their Muslim teacher has told them that Allah is the one true god and only the Koran holds his word?

And what if Christians had their way altogether? Which particular cult of Christianity would then be the right one to follow? Would it be Catholicism? Baptist? Lutheran? Episcopalian? Methodist? Presbyterian? Mormon? Jehovah’s Witness? Some of these and not all? How would Christians decide which would be the right cult to allow in schools? Would it be a geographic issue? Would the majority faith get to teach their dogma as the right one and the minority cults be told to conform? Where would the Jews fit in? The Muslims? The Hindi? What of the Native Americans who follow traditional ways?

In nations where theocracies are already established, such questions are irrelevant. Minorities shut the hell up and have few rights in the face of the majority cult.

Religious freedom is about both freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion. Muslims should be free from having to conform to Christian dogma. Lutherans should not have to adhere to the Book of Mormon. And the non-religious should not need to have their children taught by publicly funded officials that the teacher’s particular superstition must be believed or mommy and daddy will burn in a lake of fire.

References:

Lapman, Jane (2008) U.S. religious freedom is being eroded, advocates say: Misconceptions and ignorance are weakening the Constitution’s ‘first freedom.’ Christian Science Monitor, January 16, 2008 edition

First Amendment Center (2007) State of the First Amendment 2007 Final Annotated Survey [PDF]

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4 Responses

  1. Very well put!

    I wonder if anyone will argue your point?

  2. Christians like Huckabee often call Mormon Romneys members of a cult.

    But are Mormons a cult, or instead a way of following Christ that is closer to original first Christianity? Is the real cult the religion of Mainstream Christianity, that prays to a Trinity ManGod first created hundreds of years after Christ by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine?

    related video:

    HANK HANEGRAAFF: THE BIBLE ANSWER MAN

  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses were subjected to intense persecution under the Nazi regime. The smae did not happen with all religions.Why?The Nazis targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses because they were unwilling to accept the authority of the state (since they did not go to war and military service) and because they were strongly opposed to both war on behalf of a temporal authority and organized government in matters of conscience

    When Germany reintroduced compulsory military service in March 1935, the conflict with the Witnesses escalated. For refusing to be drafted or perform military-related work, and for continuing to meet illegally, increasing numbers of Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested, tried by judicial authorities and incarcerated in prisons and concentration camps.

    By 1939, an estimated 6,000 Witnesses (including some from Austria and Czechoslovakia) were detained in prisons or camps. Others fled Germany, continued their religious observance in private, or ceased to observe altogether. Some Witnesses were tortured in attempts to make them sign declarations renouncing their faith, but few capitulated to this pressure.

    In the concentration camps, all prisoners wore markings of various shapes and colors so that guards and camp officers could identify them by category. Jehovah’s Witnesses were marked by purple triangular patches. Even in the camps, they continued to meet, pray, and seek converts. In the Buchenwald concentration camp, they set up an underground printing press and distributed religious tracts.

    Conditions in Nazi camps were harsh for all inmates. Many prisoners died from hunger, disease, exhaustion, exposure to the cold, and brutal treatment. Incarcerated Jehovah’s Witnesses were sustained by the support they gave each other and by their belief that their suffering was part of their work for God. Individual Witnesses astounded guards with their refusal to conform to military-type routines like roll call or roll bandages for soldiers at the front. At the same time, camp authorities considered Witnesses to be relatively trustworthy because they refused to escape or physically resist their guards. For this reason, Nazi camp officers and guards often used Witnesses as domestic servants.

    Of the 25,000 to 30,000 Germans who in 1933 were Jehovah’s Witnesses, an estimated 20,000 remained active through the Nazi period. The remainder fled Germany, renounced their faith, or confined their worship to the family. Of those remaining active, about half were convicted and sentenced at one time or another during the Nazi era for anywhere from one month to four years, with the average being about 18 months. Of those convicted or sentenced, between 2,000 to 2,500 were sent to concentration camps, as were a total of about 700 to 800 non-German Witnesses (this figure includes about 200-250 Dutch, 200 Austrians, 100 Poles, and between 10 and 50 Belgians, French, Czechs, and Hungarians).

    The number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who died in concentration camps and prisons during the Nazi era is estimated at 1,000 Germans and 400 from other countries, including about 90 Austrians and 120 Dutch. (The non-German Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered a considerably higher percentage of deaths than their German co-religionists.) In addition, about 250 German Jehovah’s Witnesses were executed — mostly after being tried and convicted by military tribunals — for refusing to serve in the German military.

    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005394

  4. Even before 1933, Jehovah’s Witnesses were targets of prejudice. Mainstream Lutheran and Catholic churches deemed them heretics. Moreover, citizens often found the Witnesses’ missionary work–knocking on doors and preaching–to be invasive. Individual German states had long sought to curb the missionary work through strict enforcement of statutes on illegal solicitation. At various times, individual jurisdictions actually banned Witness religious literature, including the booklets The Watchtower and The Golden Age. During the Weimar period, however, the German courts often ruled in favor of the religious minority.

    Before the Nazis came to power, individual groups of local Nazis (party functionaries or SA men), acting outside the law, broke up Bible study meetings and assaulted individual Witnesses.

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