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The Realism of Religious Freedom | First Things

The Realism of Religious Freedom | First Things


  1. Interesting article, written (with an accompanying note of near panic) from the point of view of one whose religion, as he understands it, has granted him superiority over practitioners of any other religion -- something he is about to find out is not a universally accepted thought.

    Why does he cavil at the notion that he might have to take his worship into private and get it out from under everyone else's nose, I wonder? I think it's because he's not in favor of religious freedom so much as he's in favor of his own religion's superiority. One only seems to want "equality" with one's betters...never with one's underlings, eh?

  2. One comment to this article says: "Where is the warrant for all of this pushing other than within our own sense of self-righteousness? "

    Simple. Religious freedom brings societies and nations out of the dark ages. For example, at one time, the Roman church never has been a big fan of religious freedom in countries where it had the overwhelming majority of followers and controlled the government. Back in the middle ages, Rome ran the Inquistion for centuries to deal with those who dared to question Rome's authority in religious matters. Today, Rome has been forced to restrain itself in countries where there are large numbers of other denominations, but this tolerance for other religions is still not always practiced in strongly RC countries in central and south America for example. There is still some resistance to guaranteeing complete tolerance to those outside the pale of Rome. Proof is in such places as southern Mexico where there may be some guarantees in the Constitution or law, but the enforcement is sometimes difficult. There have been cases in small towns where non-RC people were discriminated against for not going along with the majority and some were even driven out of town. Apparently the peasants in remote villages do not alway share the same tolerance for other religions as the Constitution guarantees.

    Islam, which has a very large part of the world's population as followers, and according to the Koran, reportedly has within it's holy book, the use of force to spread it. There are western nations where followers of Islam are now demanding Sharia law be recognized and practiced together within democratic societies. It may one day remove what freedoms you have. Biblical Christianity, which is a religion of peace, uses words, not swords to spread it's gospel of salvation by faith in Christ. The biblical missionary work of spreading chritianity is not self righteousness because God commands his followers to spread it through the preaching of the Word, not the use of force. Christianity is the best defence against loss of all freedoms, including freedom of religion, because true biblical christianity is a religion of tolerance. Nobody is forced to follow it, but it does support freedom of religion and belief through government santioned tolerance within society, where other major religions in the world do not support those values. There is no such thing as a quiet neutrality that will ensure your continued freedom. The Reformation is a prime example of how freedom was brought to millions of people throughout parts of Europe who previously had no freedom of religion or speech. It eventually led to our democratic parliamentary systems which enshrined fundamental freedoms in Constitions in the western world. Unfortunately there are still a large number of people in the west who do not understand what is happening in the world today and still want to blame christians or christianity for many problems when the reverse is true.

  3. Mike Murray says in this article " Has it dawned on anyone here that perhaps other peoples do not see things as we do and prefer not to have the American value system pushed upon them?

    I would add that the "American value system" which he opposes, also includes fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of religion. These basic freedoms are absent in much of the world. It is a shame that he can't see that. To try to be neutral as he seems to advocate is a retrograde step because Islam, which has about one quarter of the world's population as followers, is not neutral. Their holy book seems to support the use of force to convert the rest of the world. In countries where they have immigrated in large numbers, they are demanding Sharia law to be included in the host country's legal system. This is a giant backward step in the protection of basic freedoms for individuals. So, I don't think being opposed to "American values" will help the world defend fundamental freedoms. What needs to happen it the west must use whatever political influence it has to ensure freedoms are respected throughout the world, and christian missionaries need to continue their work in spreading the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.


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