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How good a barometer of democratic values and human rights is religious freedom?

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  • 'Religious freedom' comes from being set free by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
    Jesus said 2,000 years ago to the woman at the well: 'Give me of your water.' He respected her. More than that, he placed himself below her in status by requesting her service and assistance. I take that to mean that men and women are created equal. Jesus told the woman that the water that He has to give is living water. Jesus sees the ultimate potential in a person. He saw the woman already in Heaven, in my view.
    Men and women complement each other and have the same worth. That should mean that they have the same human rights and thus, together, as equals, can lay the foundation for a free, democratic society.

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      And another pseudo-intellectual, over-reaching, Christian Fundamentalist seeks to steal the very foundation of our liberty from the hands of the enlightenment. It's just amazing to me how arrogant these history revising Christians are. Just one, narrow point. Locke looked to "Nature", a very specific term in philosophy that means one is examining the real world INSTEAD of the divine. He used this "Natural" view to come up with Natural Rights, which he claimed must have come from God, but never asserted any proof of that nor did he claim scripture as the source of his inspiration.

      Worse yet, the larger context of the intellectual basis of liberty arises due to the ideas of Lucretius, turning away from the heavens for authority and seeking to assert reason's primacy in this world. To try and sweep that away, ignoring that our liberty arose as a consequence of asserting the individual's freedom of conscience and very specifically in opposition of the idea that any external force had a right to force a free person's conscience to conform to a particular religion, is a lie of such magnitude that it must be crushed on sight by any sentient, responsible person.

      David Barton and his barking seal, Glenn Beck, perpetuate an intellectual corruption of the classical ideas which informed our founding in the most pernicious way I can imagine and folks who listen to either of them about the role of religion in our history should realize that Barton has been utterly debunked. He lies all the time. Don't believe me? Google "debunking David Barton" and just read and watch some videos. If you come away from that experience still thinking Barton or Beck are a good source of knowledge on this topic, well, you should have your head examined.

      It seems man is not ready to govern himself, but would rather supplicate himsel no matter what. I mean, anyone who has missed how much of Christianity has been disproved, how few of it's claims hold up to any scrutiny, and worse yet in the face of all that, then decides to make even greater claims for it is simply and plainly arrogant and no friend of liberty or reason.

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      I get my water from the tap, not from Jesus. Sometimes I even buy it in bottles.

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    Not very good, in Roman times, you had religion freedom, but there was also slavery. If anything religious freedom and democracy in recent history do tend to go hand in had, how ever the Natzy party and Hitler him self were democratically elected.
    Its an indicator, but to say they have an inseparable correlation i believe is pushing it.
    Also, democracy is between legally allowed citizens of a state, thus you could very well have a fully functional democracy and 0 religious freedom.

    Also, lets not forget there is no religious freedom in American political life. A politician stating he is Atheist, is akin to committing political suicide. Ask yourself who was the last Agnostic US president?.

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      You make some great valid points, i.e, 'no religious freedom in American political life', 'very well have a fully funtional democracy and 0 religious freedom' and Romans had religious freedom and slavery at the same time.
      Also, atheist's i've known in the course of my life have a much higher degree of morals than any religious peole l've met. In fact, the more 'showy display' of being pious the more corrupt!

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        Some? How about his point showing how little most folks on the right don't even understand how oppressive their imposition of "Christianity" on the rest of is? Santorum, Bachman, Cain, Perry et al claimed that atheists were defective. Bush's Attorney General, Ashcroft, held prayer meetings in his office at the DOJ, early in the mornings with select staff. What? And Christians think that's religious freedom - that's how far we are from agreement on what even the idea of religious freedom means.

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        "Bush's Attorney General, Ashcroft, held prayer meetings in his office at the DOJ, early in the mornings with select staff. "
        And Thomas Jefferson attended church services at the Capitol Building.

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        @ Matthew Coons - So you see no difference between the attendance at a Church service by Jefferson 200 yrs ago and John Ashcroft holding morning prayer meetings with selected members of his staff who are evangelical Christians, in his official office at the DOJ in the 21st century? You do realize you could be sued and terminated for doing the same thing in the private sector, as well as in most govt jobs, yes?

        It's overt religious favoritism. It's about being the boss and the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. - not about about being a Christian, you ignorant ape! How can you not see that? You are just like the whacked out liberal above in the other comment stream - and you don't even know it. Your mind is so warped by partisanship and ideology and "faith" that your critical faculties don't function properly anymore. How sad for you, and our country.

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        Glen,
        It wasn't a church service. It was regular attendance. At a church service held, not at a church building but at the Capitol Building, the place where Congress holds their sessions. How is the president regularly attending church services at the Capitol Building different from Attorney General Ashcroft having daily prayer services?

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      "Also, lets not forget there is no religious freedom in American political life."
      Are you also arguing that women don't have freedom in American political life. Ask yourself who was the last female US president? Or how about Communists? A politician stating he is a Communist is akin to committing political suicide. Ask yourself who was the last Communist US president? A free people deciding that they don't want their political leaders to be x is not the same as saying those who are x have no political freedom.

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        Omigosh, every time you write something you expose an intellect infected with the disease which I call "Beckism". Pseudo-reason, lacking sound historical or epistemological bases, extrapolated in absurd ways leading to outrageous statements and conclusions. You are a caricature - and you don't even know it.

        Let me try and take your vaporous emissions seriously for a moment. Communism is an ideology that directly violates the idea of liberty as defined by our constitution. It changes the relationship between the individual and the state in the exact opposite direction of the classical liberal ideal. So it must be opposed. However, nothing about being an atheist violates the classical liberal view of individual rights envisioned by Madison and Jefferson. While they (and many others) have held that virtue is required for a nation to be thrive and be a good nation, that idea pre-dates Christianity - Confucian thought, for example.

        So, deciding to "blackball" someone for a matter of conscience such as their religious belief, or lack thereof, which Madison emphatically carved out as personal, is a violation of the very liberty right wingers bleat about and you don't even know it. Communists seek the overthrow of our government, I simply want you to keep your religion out of the government, but you can't stand that. The idea that we aren't a Christian nation just freaks you out for some reason. You do realize that you are no kind of conservative, that the father's of the modern conservative movement, Goldwater and Buckley (who both supported, for example, drug legalization) would find your views anathema to liberty?

        Go away, small, silly man.

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        We have one NOW!

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    • Remember something, there may have been religious "freedom" in Rome - provided you worshiped the divine Emperor. As for slavery, 2000 years ago, 90% of of the human race were slaves. Today it's probably down to 30%, more or less.

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      Glen,
      I didn't mean to compare atheism and communism. I apologize if I offended you. What about my example of the lack of a woman president? We haven't had a Muslim president either, or a Buddhist. What if the majority of people decided they didn't want their political leaders eating jelly beans. Would you say jelly bean eaters lacked political freedom because individual private citizens made a choice not to vote for those who like jelly beans? Free people can use any criteria they want to choose their political leaders. To suggest otherwise is the truly un-American idea.
      Furthermore, how do you know any of my ideas. You sir are the totalitarian if you want to restrict the ways a free people can choose their leaders. And you are the bigot. I would probably vote for an atheist if they could shrink our government. You on the other hand have already decided that every Christian is an idiot that wants to impose their religion on you. You have this bizarre notion that I listen to Glenn Beck which I don't because you're right about his strange historical beliefs and his psuedo logic.
      But it is just as illogical to say you want small government but want to restrict my freedom to choose my political leaders.

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        Matthew, that is called a "defacto" standard. Much like Windows from Microsoft. Yes you can use alternatives but 90%+ of the industry works and develops applications for this systems, thus making the alternatives a non starter.
        The function of every standard is to regulate what can and cannot be used, as it is the nature of every defacto standard that they can of course be debunked. But they are there none the less.
        You can very well have a female president (Argentina, Brazil, UK, so on), how ever there are many obstacles you would need to go around.
        Same goes for political parties if you are to enter political life, then you have to either be a Republican or a Democrat, you can not win major election independently. This is not law, its a defacto standard, as such the tea party is the latest development to try and debunk the standard, but in my opinion they are far from that at this point in time.
        As i mentioned they are not law, they can be changed, but they are there none the less.

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      Horacio,
      And people freely choose Windows over Mac just as people freely choose religious over agnostic for their leadership. Free people freely choosing their leaders by their own standard is not equivalent to a lack of religious freedom. If government were somehow involved in stiopping agnostics from running for office, you would be correct but when people apply a standard and you don't meet that standard don't claim you have no freedom. Let's say you started a newspaper, on any subject it doesn't have to be religious, but no one subscribed. Would you claim you had no free speech or no free press because people of their own volition didn't buy your newspaper?

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        Matthew, that is a really naive view, or do you think it is an incredible coincidence that BO was the first color man to be president.
        Do you seriously consider he is the best Color politician ever, so the first African American to be fit to be nominated for president?. No just as there were no color candidates before, there are no women candidates today. Its a choice, perhaps the result of poling that determined that a man has better chances of being elected than a woman, as before was between Caucasian and black. They are not law but they are there.

        For instance, i would argue that in today's society, for a person to be even considered as a potential nomination to candidacy, they have to be Males, over 40 and wealthy.
        Does that mean that a middle class Joe from the bronx is going to be banned from running? No, how ever no party is going to run with him and he is not going to win.
        There are your defacto standards. And if you think that the best and the brightest always fit the bill and are the ones that win, i would recommend you to check again.

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      Horatio,
      If free people feel some candidate does not live up to the standard they make of their own volition, that is their choice. An agnostic can run for president. Just because a free people have decided that their religiosity, or lack thereof, is an important factor when voting does not mean agnostics lack political freedom. Yes a standard exists but it is a standard created by society not government and thus it is absurd to say there is no religious freedom in American political life, unless you also think that people choosing not to subscribe to your newspaper means you don't have any free speech rights.

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        "Yes a standard exists but it is a standard created by society"

        Oh really?, the society?, did the society decided which campaign was going to fund? or did funding come from private enterprises?. No money no race, so from the get go, you have to appeal to interest groups, which are not necessarily representative of the population.

        I think you have a rather naive and romantic view of politics my friend.

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  • An excellent barometer. Most of our ancestors came from Europe. Each State had an established religion and an autocratic government. True, our original Royal charters allowed this and most of the colonies did have established religions, but --. Beyond New England and, maybe, Virginia, it didn't really mean much.

    Mostly the colonies were independent and colonists tended towards mild sedition. And we're the result. much, but not most, of the world has followed our example. Fora the most part these are english speaking countries, scions of English common law.

    When the Magna Carta was making the rounds here, 25 years ago(?), I visited on a quiet day. I got into a conversation with the "curator". I mentioned the those Barons didn't know what they started. He said "No sir, they didn't". Amen.

    Remember, free will and sedition are both civic virtues. Cherish them.

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    Complex question. Also depends on the Religion. I think the question means to ask if religions contribute to man's freedom. One could have freedom of religion in a slave holding society. The question there would be, OK but at root is the religion hostile to slavery, despite their parallel existence. Or is the religion complicit in the same suppression of free and liberty at the core of slavery.

    The question is this - ignoring religions like Islam that are the State, have Church and State been at odds over questions of liberty and freedom, and keeping in mind that we have to take into consideration the use of religion by the State and the fact that in a hostile State Religion has to defend its material existence, I would give higher marks on respect for liberty and freedom to the Church than the State.

    Of course what obscures the answer to this question is most historians are hostile to Western Religion in terms of both their ideas and their existence as an institution. Throughout the Middle Ages monarchs usurped the Church for their own purposes and appointed their own bishops who did their bidding. And the Church has been stuck with the accusations that they were behind it all.

    Joan of Arc, for example, was burned at the stake by the Dauphin when he became King. The Church wanted her freed as an innocent. But to this day we instinctively associate her execution as a religious execution for a heresy. That the Church sent emissaries to interview her as she said she saw Mary and they were skeptical of that claim, has nothing to do with her being found guilty of a heresy.

    The State, not the Church, made up the heresy. She was guilty of no such thing and the Church said so. And demanded her being set free.

    When Copernicus published his work showing a heliocentric solar system, the Church applauded. Copernicus also had said that the orbits were circular. The Church mathematicians thought the orbits were likely elliptical. They were correct, and have never been forgiven down to this day.

    On such things are PhD's created - and entire history departments, and thus careers, too.

    Some logic - When Church mathematicians thought it more likely that the planets in our solar system moved in elliptical orbits around the sun, and Copernicus though the orbits circular, and since, Western scientists have been hostile to Church participation in Science.

    Now we cannot say that said scientists are hostile to speculation. Indeed they are not. But they are hostile to speculations and work coming from the Churches. Hence their animus is against the Churches as institutions and wish to suppress and prevent Church institutions having any influence is these areas.

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  • I would say that Religious Freedom is only a "Rough" barometer of democratic values and human rights. I'd be interested to know: Can you be religious if your religion is not freely taken? If your religion is imposed by some human agency, is not that agency acting as your de facto god and therefore being false in its essence ? If so, could it be that the term "Religious Freedom" is a kind of redundancy ? That is, if it's truly religious, it must, of course, be free.

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    Religious freedom means believing in sky daddies unhindered by anyone else, NOT shoving your ancient fairy tales down the throats of other rational human beings, telling women what to do in the name of imaginary characters, voting according to archaic scriptures written by desert dwelling tribes, or bringing primitivism in the classrooms, courthouses, and political forums of the nation. Unfortunately, the two have become synonymous in this land as of late and religious freedom is confused with the demand that we all act according to some group's walking on water superstitious myths.

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  • The real question should be framed around tolerance.

    How good a barometer of democratic-REPUBLIC values and human rights is tolerance of an unpopular opinion?

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    It is an excellent barometer in some cases. For example, if we analyze the question from the negative point of view, i.e. countries that have zero religious freedom, you have Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both theocracies prohibit the practice of any religion except the official one. What can you say about the democratic values and human rights of both countries? Not much.

    In the USA and Europe there is, officially, religious freedom. However, lately it has become fashionable to be virulently anti-Christian in those societies. It makes it difficult for a Christian to practice his/her Christianity with complete freedom. There are plenty of atheists who openly attack anything and anyone who shares, shows or in any other way displays religious belief in Christ. It is much less "offensive" to believe in the Buddha, Islam, Judaism, Etc...
    So, in the end, it is not a good barometer to have religious freedom "officially" in the law of the land. Human zealotry exists in all shapes and forms, and "religion" is a word with very wide connotations. Atheism is a form of religion. Belief in humankind, in science, in freedom, Etc... are all religious beliefs in a very real sense in that they can produce fanaticism against other beliefs and religions. Specially against those of us who are #%?@ Christians.

    The bottom line is that faith and/or belief must rest in the deepest conscience of each and every person. It is a private business, and it is not legal, ethical or moral to attack anyone either verbally, overtly, covertly or in any way, shape or form because of their beliefs. Some atheists should practice what they preach in this respect.

    The law of the land is not always applied objectively. The reason is that we human beings are not objective creatures. We strive for objectivity, but we never reach it 100%. That is why what the law says is one thing and what the courts and judges decree is another.

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