Religious Freedom is Not Just for Christian Conservatives
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 03, 2017 at 09:11:18 PM EST
Religious freedom is one of the central issues of our time. Arguably, it a central issue in any time, and every time, at least in the United States.  The country was founded with a very deliberate approach to promoting a permanent culture and constitutional protection for religious pluralism and separation of church and state, partly in order to preserve this historic advance in democracy and human liberation.

Somewhere along the way in the 20th century, what we now call the Christian Right gathered in sufficient ideological coherence and political capacity to create a theocratic movement that most of us thought could never happen here. Nevertheless, here we are, as the Christian Right has made religious freedom the centerpiece of its contemporary politics.

The theocrats of the 18th century  enjoyed benefits of a unified church and state, such as existed in colonial Virginia.  One of the reasons for and results of the American Revolution was to dismantle that power structure in the name of religious freedom.

Sometimes my fellow progressives forget that the anti-colonial war of liberation that was fought primarily along the Eastern Seaboard in the 1700s, was supported by persecuted religious dissidents such as Baptists and Presbyterians.  I have published an essay in The Public Eye that seeks to address some of this, titled Religious Freedom is a Progressive Value.  

Here are a few excerpts.

    "Religious freedom is a powerful idea--the stuff from which revolutions are sometimes made. It includes the right of individual conscience--to believe or not believe as we choose, without undue influence from government or powerful religious institutions, and to practice our beliefs free from the same constraints. It's no surprise that the first part of the First Amendment guarantees freedom of belief. The right to believe differently from the rich and powerful is a prerequisite for free speech and a free press.  Grounding our politics, journalism, and scholarship in a clear understanding of what it means and where it came from could serve as both an inoculation and an answer to the distorted, self-serving claims of the Christian Right."


    "Religious freedom and civil rights are complementary values and legal principles necessary to sustain and advance equality for all. ..  we must not fall for the ancient tactic of allowing the kings, nobles and priests of our time to divide and set us against one another.

    We have come a long way since the revolutionaries who founded our country introduced one of the most powerfully democratic ideas in the history of the world. The struggle for religious freedom may never be complete, but it remains among our highest aspirations. And yet the kinds of forces that struggled both for and against religious freedom in the 18th Century are similar to those camps today. We are the rightful heirs of the constitutional legacy of religious freedom; the way is clear for us to find our voices and reclaim our role."

Read the whole thing here.  

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by arnald on Mon Feb 13, 2017 at 01:00:46 AM EST
I dont suspect this comment is related to the above, however, we have to be careful about creating division by treating others differently.

The Bible does tell us to even be kind to our enemies, that way out faith increases and we become more like Him.

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Religious freedom and civil rights are complementary values and legal principles necessary to sustain and advance equality for all....people in 2020

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Religious freedom is something that is expected by everyone. Nowadays our country does not have any sort of religious freedom. Hostsailor It is mainly because of the wrong concepts that are in people's minds. So that you can not blame anyone if they are religious in their own way. It is their freedom.

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Liberals of faith should cite the beliefs that fuel their support for abortion, migrants, LGBTQ rights and fights against racism and climate change.

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