Monday, July 30, 2012

On Religious Freedom and Why Western Christians (and Jews) May Reasonably Fear Its Curtailment

Ross Douthat is the go to guy on the oppression of Western states against freedom to exercise one's religion in reasonable ways.

It is hard to find examples in the West these days (save perhaps for France) where any freedom to exercise the Islamic religion is curtailed.

18 comments:

Shawn said...

Is this where we are headed?

"British court says Christian couple can't be foster parents due to beliefs"


http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/british-court-says-christian-couple-cant-adopt-due-to-beliefs/

carl jacobs said...

The modern secular mindset sees religion as a pernicious and dangerous influence. (Well, real religion, anyways. Not the harmless castrated forms like TEC. Secularists find liberal religion amusing and irrelevant.) And yet the secularist is trapped by hiss commitment to religious freedom. He resolves the dilemma by allowing a man to believe whatever he likes so long as it remains in the private square. Those beliefs however are not to be welcomed in the public square and so must be left at home.

Ah, but religion has a public communal aspect. Yes, so in the privacy of a public worship service, a man may say or think what he likes. That is the extent of allowable public religion. What he may not do is demand the right to act consistent with his beliefs in the secular public square. Thus would religion be hermetically sealed away from any possibility of public influence - lest secular man have his freedom constrained by that which he rejects.

This is what secular man fears - that religious people will influence the law to the disadvantage of his autonomy. And so he must restrict the free exercise of religion in order to protect the free exercise of his own will. Secularism thus becomes the established state religion. And secular man is quite happy with that arrangement.

carl

Shawn said...

"And secular man is quite happy with that"

As are his allies in the Church as we have seen recently.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Secularists find liberal religion amusing and irrelevant.)" - Carl -

I beg to differ here. I think that secualrists may find ALL religion irrelevant - especially that which refuses to deal with the realities of 21st century human existence.

Shawn said...

I agree Ron. I suspect secularists find the liberal "Christian" inability to deal with reality particularly irrelevant.

carl jacobs said...

FRS

If secularists found all religion irrelevant, then they wouldn't be bending so much effort to suppress it in the public square. They consider people like me dangerous, and that is the very opposite of irrelevant. Liberal religion however is nothing but a metaphysical gloss painted over a post-modern mindset of doubt and human autonomy. All well and good for people who 'need that sort of thing' because it doesn't threaten the regnant materialist worldview. But it doesn't have much to do with the "realities of 21st century human existence."

carl

Paul Powers said...

As an example of curtailment of free exercise of Islam outside France, a court in Cologne recently held that circumcision of infant males violated the child's right to "physical integrity." The good news is that for once the Muslim and Jewish communities in Germany have found common cause.

Father Ron Smith said...

"They consider people like me dangerous' - carl Jacobs -

Oh really? Tres amusant! n'est pas?

Anonymous said...

"Liberal religion however is nothing but a metaphysical gloss painted over a post-modern mindset of doubt and human autonomy. All well and good for people who 'need that sort of thing' because it doesn't threaten the regnant materialist worldview."

Ah, I wish I'd said that! ("You will, Oscar, you will." - Whistler) Liberal religion is really the camp follower of secular culture. Its purpose is not to rescue men and women from hell (which doesn't exist) for eternal life (ditto) through faith and askesis (pointless) but to give a semi-religious gloss (aka "spiritual") to humanism. Its watchwords ('tolerance', 'inclusion', 'diversity') easily translate into a socio-political program for a post-Christian, non-reproducing, sexually libertine, entertainment-focused, crony capitalist, immigrant-dependent society.
Martin

Anonymous said...

'n'est-ce pas'

Martin le Pedant

Father Ron Smith said...

"My task as a priest, 'Martin le pedant', is not to rescue men and women from Hell, for Jesus Christ has already done that - by His Sacrifice on the Cross 'for our transgressions'

My task, as a priest, is to show them the way to Heaven - through their acknowledgement of Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer of all who look to Him for grace and redemption. This is the priority of the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to inaugurate.

Jesus implied that he came - not to heal the well (the self-righteous) but the sick - who acknowledge their need of His Healing!

The Gospel venture is like one poor person showing another poor person where to find Bread - It is not to pretend that you are the baker.

Anonymous said...

Careful and humble reading will show I said nothing at all about 'the task of a priest'; I spoke of "the purpose of liberal religion".
The purpose of true Christianity - carried out by Christ - is indeed to rescue men and women from hell for eternal life. How the Lord chooses to do this is a matter of his sovereign grace.
My description of 'the purpose of liberal religion' stills seems right to me. Of course, Niebuhr said it best long ago: 'A God without wrath sends Christ without a cross to men without sin" - or thereabouts.
Liberal religion is really an ethical improvement society with hymns. There is little wonder secular liberal today realise they don't need it any more than they believe it, and the collapse of liberal religion continues apace.
Martin

Bryden Black said...

"Liberal religion however is nothing but a metaphysical gloss painted over a post-modern mindset of doubt and human autonomy. All well and good for people who 'need that sort of thing' because it doesn't threaten the regnant materialist worldview."

I too must register my delight in this wonderful citation - which I shall shamelessly reproduce with due acknowledgement at the next opportunity ...!

As for the goal of Christ's redemption: Jn 3:16 will do me nicely, as a summary, reproduced of course during the Liturgy in BCP - with its dual emphasis NB!

Father Ron Smith said...

I don't normally juggle with biblical texts; but as Bryden has opted to quote one here; I will posit another: John 8:33-36 - This is freedom indeed - the Liberty (liberality) of Christ. This was being withheld by the Pharisees, so Jesus had to put them right, too. They had thought they were saved 'by the Law', but Jesus says: "My grace is sufficient for you" - that's good enough for me. Mind you, I'm only a poor pastor.

Again, I don't normally recommend other people's theological musings on this site, but am just reading Hans Kung's autobiography "My Struggle for Freedom". I think that conservative Christians commenting here might profit from his wisdom

Bryden Black said...

Now; let me try to get this thing right Ron.
I offer Jn 3:16 as a way of refusing to offset Hell against Heaven/Heaven against Hell, as the twin purpose of Jesus’ redemption, in response to a few other comments on this thread:

For thus God loved the world,
such that he gave the only begotten Son,
in order that
everyone believing in him
may not perish
but may have eternal life.

And now am I to deduce that “conservative Christians commenting here”, via firstly Jn 8:33ff and also Hans K√ľng, are equivalent to the Pharisees, with their understanding of Torah, and so have the Devil as their father ...?!

Father Ron Smith said...

Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Bryden, I'm sorry you haven't been able to discern that my quotation from St. John's Gospel was in response to your dismissive citation beginning "Liberal religion........"

I did not cite my passage of scripture in direct response to your passage of scripture, but rather, as a corrective to your so obvious misunderstanding of liberal Christianity - which you criticised, by implication, in your original citation.

re your comment at the end of your last post; I had hoped you might be able to connect my reference to Hans Kung quite separately; as a much-needed correction to your very conservative views on 'liberality' in the Gospel - something Kung is writing about in his auto-biography in a way that conflicts with your understanding.

Shawn said...

The Pharisees believed they were saved by the Law. Modern Liberals believe that salvation is through the legalism of political correctness (cultural Marxism).

This is why Liberals express deeply judgmental attitudes to conservatives. They believe we do not live up to their legalistic standards, especially on the issue of homosexuality. Thus Liberalism is not a religion of grace, but of Law, Liberals have simply replaced the Torah with liberal politics.

It is conservative Protestants that truly believe that salvation is through God's sovereign grace alone, and not by works righteousness. Liberalism is a distortion of the Gospel.

Take the issue of homosexuality. Liberals claim that supporting the homosexual agenda is an expression of God's grace. But God's grace is expressed towards those who admit they are sinners. Unrepentant homosexuals and their liberal supporters deny their sin. Thus Ron's repeated claim that that Evangelics are self-righteous is clearly wrong. Evangelics do admit their sin. Unrepentant homosexuals do not. And a sign of God's electing grace is repentance unto life.

Our liberty in Christ is a freedom to serve God and His mission, not insist that our sins must be affirmed and accepted. Christian Liberty and modern progressive liberalism are not only two different things, they are radically opposed.

In the West Christian liberty is being eroded by the homosexual agenda. In Denmark ministers of the Gospel are being forced by law to perform homosexual "marriages". In many other places in the Liberal West Chritians being denied the right to preach the true Gospel, speak their minds in public, teach their children that marriage is between a man and a women, or even send their children to Christian schools, or homeschool them, and all on the name of homosexual rights.

Thus true Christian Liberty is being eroded and progressively destroyed by the false liberalism and political agenda promoted by Ron and his fellow travellers.

Bryden Black said...

I discern all too well, Ron ... To wit: I am tempted to offer a history lesson in the spirit of Herbert Butterfield on the topic of Liberal Christianity. Yet I also know full well ...