Freedom of – and from – Religion

I continue to find inspiration in the form of Citizen Tom’s website. One of his more recent posts discussed freedom from religion, though to understand Tom’s post, we must first delve into a post by one Constitutional Insurgent. Where I quote Constitutional Insurgent, I’ll be using blue text, and where I quote Tom, I’ll use purple. Hopefully that will be easy enough to follow.

We’ll begin with Constitutional Insurgent.

Yesterday, former V.P. and potential 2024 POTUS candidate employed a typical slogan from his camp, in an interview with Larry Kudlow: “Well, the radical left believes that the freedom of religion is the freedom from religion. But it’s nothing the American founders ever thought of or generations of Americans fought to defend.”

With Kudlow offering his own tired and empty slogan: “These lefties want to scrap religion, Mike Pence, and I think it’s a terrible mistake.”

I would offer that ‘freedom OF religion’ absolutely includes ‘freedom FROM religion’. Tommy J had something to say regarding this as well:

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

So while we can all agree that religious freedom means that a Citizen has the Liberty to worship as one pleases (so long as it’s a State recognized religion of course……..), do we not also have the Liberty to not be regulated by religious dictates with no corresponding secular value?

Or the inclusion of religious worship and affirmation in secular activities (where the participants may be religious or not)?

The undercurrent of all of this of course, is that those pining for Pence’s ‘definition’ are really only talking about one specific religion…..

What say you?

I’d argue that Constitutional Insurgent is correct with his base point. Freedom from religion is surely a cornerstone of any society that offers freedom of religion. If someone is free to worship in whatever way they want, does that not automatically grant the freedom not to worship at all?

I may not understand correctly, so apologies to Constitutional Insurgent if I have indeed misunderstood, but I think with his remarks about religious behaviours in secular activities (to use an example of my own, someone praying at a football game), he’s saying that’s a form of imposing religious views upon people, during an event that has nothing to do with religion.

This raises a string of interesting questions. Is the person praying here (or at a workplace, or shop, or anywhere that isn’t actually a place of worship) violating the rights of people who are not interested in hearing any religious talk? Would not allowing someone to pray at their desk at work be a violation of their rights? What if, instead of a Christian prayer (as defenders of freedom of religious expression in the USA are usually referring to Christianity), someone wanted to say an Islamic, Hindu, Jewish or Sikh prayer in such a situation?

We can examine this in the form of analogies. If a person wished to smoke at their desk at work, or at a bar, many places would not allow them to, as other people would be exposed to the smoke, against their will. What a person does in their own home, or in a designated smoking area, is a different matter. For that matter, they can walk down the street and smoke. It’s not especially pleasant for the people who get caught in a puff of cigarette smoke as they walk by, but we’re talking about a wide open, public space.

Smoking probably isn’t the best analogy, but it maybe addresses the thought process. ‘Practice your faith in whatever way you want when at home, or at a place of worship, but don’t be expected to freely do so in private institutions, such as a sports venue, social club, or place of work’.

Tom’s response does not, in my humble opinion, address what Constitutional Insurgent had to say.

When I read this CONSTITUTIONAL INSURGENT’s post, I began to garner some idea why our country is so divided. We don’t listen to each other, and we don’t try to understand each other.

I don’t think CONSTITUTIONAL INSURGENT understands what the phrase “freedom from religion” means. I don’t think the people who commented on his post understand what the phrase means. Maybe they will get it if I put the shoe on the other foot. What if a Secularist complained about Christians demanding “freedom from Secularism”? Think I ought to advocate this freedom?

Of course, very few Christians have any desire to force Christianity upon anyone. Neither do we have the desire to shut up anyone. Christian Conservatives did not invent that nonsense phrase, “hate speech.” “Hate speech” is an idea invented by Liberal Democrats. Christian Conservatives don’t try to shut people up just because we disagree with what they are saying, which is the point of calling the speech of people we disagree with “hate speech”.

The vast majority of Christians realize that trying to force people to be Christians does not accomplish anything good. The notion that Christians want to force their faith upon others is a Secularist bogeyman. That is why you can write post like the one written by CONSTITUTIONAL INSURGENT.

What would ‘freedom from secularism’ look like? Would it mean that religious institutions would be prevalent? There are already many churches, of various denominations, serving Christianity across the USA. There are several million children in attendance of private schools in the USA, of which, according to this site, nearly 50% are Christian-based (the data is a little old, so take that info with a pinch of salt). Is that already freedom from secularism? US citizens have the choice to visit various places of worship, and we’re not just talking about Christianity (though Christianity is by far the largest religion represented in the US), and the influence of Christianity is seen throughout America. ‘One Nation Under God’, ‘In God we Trust’ and the various other proclamations from government officials are further proof of this.

The efforts to impress Christianity upon the US people may not be in the form of overt Bible thumping, but make no mistake, they are certainly happening. Churches in the US have a great deal of wealth, and influence. Some parts of the US are heavily religious, with religious agendas creeping into state schools. The efforts are well-organised, and at times, quite subtle.

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