Religious Freedom

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nandu
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Religious Freedom

Post by nandu » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:04 am

Hello everybody!

I just want to ask a simple question: What is religious freedom? And how much religious freedom is permissible in a liberal democracy?

Nandu.
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Ned Kelly
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Post by Ned Kelly » Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:18 am

Good question, Nandu!

One good source of suggestions would be the many US Supreme Court opinions which have addressed this issue and acknowledged that there will never be a perfect solution. But generally the Supreme Court has done a fair job of establishing some basic standards for analysis.

The basic idea is that any law which is specifically directed toward religious BELIEF, is unconstitutional. However, in this imperfect world in which we need SOME laws (if you think law is bad, just try anarchy), it's inevitable that sometimes religious PRACTICES will conflict with social norms and laws. Here are some examples:

1. There can be no law against professing a belief in using marijuana as part of a religious ritual, but the actual use of marijuana will remain illegal, UNLESS the law against marijiuana use is intended SPECIFICALLY TO REPRESS a religion. In other words, the standard is whether the law is directed at the religious belief, rather than the deed.

2. Here is a more extreme hypothetical. I believe marijuana use is mostly harmless. But let us suppose, hypothetically, a religion which believes in killing and eating babies. The law cannot suppress their belief, but they cannot claim an exception from the law of murder based on their peculiar belief. They can profess a belief in killing babies, but they cannot actually kill babies.

3. An example of a law which is specifically targeted against religious belief, would be China's criminalisation of owning a picture of the Dalai Lama. Also, in China it is illegal to attend any Christian church which does not submit to control by the (atheist) Communist Party IN MATTERS OF TEACHING AND BELIEF!
The Chinese Communist Party members believe it's necessaryfor the government to control and "guide" religious belief in order to maintain social stability. But I have often pointed out to them - yes personally - the fundamental difference between thought and action. In liberal democracies, we do not outlaw thoughts or beliefs (as the Chinese do!), only actions.

Some Chinese Communists (who are often very good people) have asked me what I think about Mormons. I tell them, I think the Mormon religion is nuts, but Mormons tend to make good citizens, and as long as they don't break the law in their ACTIONS, then the government should just leave them alone. And I say China should use the same policy toward the outlawed Falun Gong sect in China.
As long as they don't cause any trouble, then let them believe any crazy sh-- they want!

In sum, the main purpose of protecting "freedom of religion" is to preserve the inviolability of every person's mind. Sometimes it's necessary, for social stability, to outlaw certain kinds of actions, sometimes including "religious" acts.
That should be avoided if possible, but sometimes it's necessary. But what is NEVER necessary is to outlaw personal thoughts, personal beliefs.
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Post by Clemsy » Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:45 pm

It all boils down to: believe as you will. Make sure what you do doesn't actively infringe on another's civil liberties.

It gets difficult when someone considers it a civil liberty to coerce, as it's practicing one's religion. :roll:
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Post by Ned Kelly » Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:52 pm

Clemsy wrote:It all boils down to: believe as you will. Make sure what you do doesn't actively infringe on another's civil liberties.

It gets difficult when someone considers it a civil liberty to coerce, as it's practicing one's religion. :roll:
I totally agree. Also, one's beliefs (religious or otherwise) do NOT have the power, in a liberal democracy, to coerce or to pressure others to be "sensitive" to those beliefs.

I believe Mormonism is bat-shit insane, and in a liberal democracy, Mormons do not (or should not) have any power to coerce or pressure me to be "sensitive" about saying that.

Another example: I believe homosexuality is unnatural. I DO advocate for the law to acknowledge civic unions of homosexual partners, but I stop short of saying homosexual partnerships should be acknowledged as IDENTICAL to heterosexual marriage, because the rule of law is based upon cultural traditions and consensus, and at this time (regardless of whether it is abstractly "right" or not), the majority of citizens are not yet willing to acknowlege homosexual marriage as IDENTICAL to heterosexual marriage, and for the sake of the stability of the rule of law, the ancient - nay, even PREHISTORIC and MULTICULTURAL, WORLDWIDE assumption that "marriage" is between man and woman, must continue to be deferred to, BECAUSE the rule of law is based upon tradition, custom and consensus, in ALL countries.

Thus, I - and many people of good will - am/are willing to defend the civil rights of gays, AND to agree that gay partners should have almost 100 percent equal status as married people. The only thing that I object to - and this is a VERY LIBERAL attitude which is NOT shared by the majority of Americans - is for gay marriage to be officially acknowledged as IDENTICAL to traditional marriages - BECAUSE IT IS UNPRECEDENTED IN EVERY CULTURE IN ALL OF WORLD HISTORY!

So, is that "insensitive" toward homosexuals? If so, then they (or anyone who believes this is "insensitive" toward gays) are claiming a right to FAR MORE "sensitivity" than the majority of citizens ever enjoy.

Is enjoyment of "sensitivity" a basic human right? Of course that's a rhetorical question, and the answer is NO! Especially in any liberal democracy, because NO liberal democracy can function if it is inhibited by an excess of "sensitivity".
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Post by Ned Kelly » Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:42 pm

Nandu, my friend,

You have expressed hostility to what you call "organised religion", and I agree with you on that, around 60 percent.

But I just want to challenge you a bit, and ask you whether you think the world - and especially America - would be better off without hearing, and enjoying, THIS song by Johnny Cash and his family?

And mind you, my parents' religions were Catholic and Anglican, and so I tend to be antipathetic to the "low church" kind of Christianity, which has often been a literally mortal enemy of my ancestors' religions. But when I see and hear Johnny Cash's family singing this song - which involves THEIR kind of "organised religion" - I cannot help but think it has done more good than bad for the world, for such songs to be sung, and for some people to believe in "organised religion" in such generous, charitable, warm-hearted ways. Here is the song:

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=JLFbUbmH7To

It's NOT MY religion, but I do think it's a very beautiful one!

What say you, Nandu, my friend?
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:11 am

Protests Over a Rule to Protect Health Providers

WASHINGTON — A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Personally, I haven't a problem with a doctor or nurse being excused from performing an elective abortion. They believe such would be akin to murder. Fine. (And according to the article, of which this is only an excerpt, there is already legislation protecting a workers religious beliefs). However, to refuse to participate in a sterilization procedure, or to dispense birth control pills crosses the line into the territory of religious coercion.

Especially today when birth control is a matter of ecology.

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Post by Ned Kelly » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:18 pm

Yes, Clemsy. Here is a film clip - narrated by a Hispanic friend of our country, America - featuring the reality of abortion...

....And I just dare you, and all of our other JCF friends, to watch the entire video (just over 8 minutes) while reconsidering the issue of abortion.

You can't. You won't be able to. Because our JCF community is dedicated to Joseph Cambpell, who believed in total compassion for ALL humans, REGARDLESS of religious creeds, Joe Campbell revered Humans, and Human Bodies and the Human Spirit, as the incarnations of God on our planet Earth....

And so, I am 100 percent certain, that our Teacher, Joseph Cambpell, would weep and grieve over the prematurely slain babies in this video, because he virtually worshiped Humanity as the incarnation of God, and rightly so.

Well, I think Joe Campbell would agree with me that SOMETIMES (and only very rarely) abortion is moral, like in cases of rape. HOWEVER, I THINK Joe would ALSO agree with me, that all aborted children are true Humans, who deserve a decent burial and prayers and dignity as true Humans Beings. So here ya go:

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=fm1WIPGbGMY
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:56 pm

Not the focus of my post, Ned.
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Post by Ned Kelly » Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:06 pm

Clemsy wrote:Not the focus of my post, Ned.
Regardless of whether it was your focus, as a matter of honour and integrity it's right and proper for me to post that link about the reality of abortion, and to challenge you and all of our JCF friends to contemplate it.

I don't say that everyone should agree with me that abortion should be outlawed except in cases of rape. But I DO say, that any and all of our JCF friends who think that they believe in 100 percent legalisation of abortion, ought to see this video clip, at least just to become more educated about what abortion is.
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:10 pm

:deep sigh:

Okay: Abortion is a tragedy and a fact of life. IMHO, no elective abortions should ever be performed after the first trimester. That being said, there is practically no reason today for a surgical abortion, what with emergency contraception, plan B, etc.

Education, contraception, responsibility.

The need for abortion can be minimized, and later term abortions practically eliminated.

I don't need to view your link.

Whether or not a zygote should be granted full human rights is a topic for another thread.

My point is that pharmacists refusing to dispense bcp's, or doctors refusing to perform vasectomies, on religious grounds are fueling abortions.

Is the refusal to perform a legal duty, when the basis of that refusal is someone's interpretation of religious scripture, that injures no one a religious right? Is not such an act of coercion?

The controversy isn't about abortion. It's about sex.
Last edited by Clemsy on Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by nandu » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:02 pm

Like Clemsy said, the moral acceptability of abortion is not the theme of this thread. However, since I started this conversation and sort of abandoned it, I guess I'm in a way responsible for it going off the rails.

But there is a salient point. Ned, you feel deeply that abortion is wrong. However, that belief is sacred to you only. You absolutely have no right to say somebody else should also feel the same.

This is where religious freedom begins and ends-in one's mind. The moment it begins to dictate how society should be ordered, it infringes on the freedom of others.

Nandu.
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:13 pm

Nandu, not that I want to continue this particlur theme, but even those who consider the right to an abortion valid, don't believe that abortion is a good thing.

Moral dilemmas are difficult by definition. Just saying no isn't the answer.

And when one side is steeped in religious doctrine, there can be no dialogue at all.
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Post by Ned Kelly » Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:05 pm

I think the best remedy for all this is some GOOD PUNK ROCK!

Here ya go! http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=OAkfHShATKY
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