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WASHINGTON (RNS) Half of Americans worry that religious freedom in the U.S. is at risk, and about a third say "the gay and lesbian community” is to blame.

39 Comments

  1. Well I’m concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country BECAUSE evangelicals want their conception of Judeo-Christian values to dominate the culture.

    • This. This exactly. It’s not enough that people adhere to a certain “religious guideline”, it has to be a particular one: It has to be THEIRS.
      I’m a Baptist myself, but I’m the last one to advocate that all laws and government practices cater to my belief system.
      Religion and State are separated for a reason.

    • You’re absolutely correct! They’re the ones that whine when other people stand up for themselves and tell them to take a hike. Something about stepping over their religious freedom or something. Guess what: your beliefs aren’t being trampled on and your religious freedom isn’t at stake. Stop being such a fucking baby and understand that there are other people with different beliefs out there!

  2. Lizzie M. Johnson

    I hear the many concerns about what is going on today and Religeous freedom. I am reminded in God.s Word that these things will happen.He stated man w ill call rigtht wrong and wrong right. They will be lovers of themselves. Even some of the elect will turn away from the teachings that God have laid out for us to follow.This is what is happening now. He stated He is coming back for a church without a spot or wrinkle. He has given His church Authority over this world and what is happening today.It is for us to let our light shine and not to be afraid of the enemy. Christians have more power than the enemy because we have Christ living in us. He stated in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths.We have to pray to God and He
    will give us the answer which is already in the Bible. How many of you are telling others about HIM? It is our duty to let our light so shine. We have to come together like never before. God Bless you for your concerns.

    • - God is a bad parent and role model.
      If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. Good parents don’t allow their children to inflict harm on others. Good people don’t stand by and watch horrible acts committed against innocent men, women and children. They don’t condone violence and abuse. “He has given us free will,” you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.

      - God is not logical.
      How many times have you heard, “Why did God allow this to happen?” And this: “It’s not for us to understand.” Translate: We don’t understand, so we will not think about it or deal with the issue. Take for example the senseless tragedy in Newtown. Rather than address the problem of guns in America, we defer responsibility to God. He had a reason. He wanted more angels. Only he knows why. We write poems saying that we told God to leave our schools. Now he’s making us pay the price. If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn’t this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?
      The question we should be asking is this: “Why did we allow this to happen?” How can we fix this? No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to “God” just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address.

      - God is not fair.
      If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered?

      If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind’s existence has not created a fair game.

      - God does not protect the innocent.
      He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can’t God, with all his powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent?

      - God is not present.
      He is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense. It means that we teach children to love an image, an image that lives only in their imaginations. What we teach them, in effect, is to love an idea that we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes.

      - God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good
      A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.

      - God Teaches Narcissism
      “God has a plan for you.” Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. “No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special.” The irony is that, while we tell this story to our kids, other children are abused and murdered, starved and neglected. All part of God’s plan, right?

      When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine–whether that machine is nature or society–the influence we have is minuscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness.

      I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

      I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

      • Your insight is most thoughtful and in many ways, I do agree with you.
        My comment would be that God does not dictate the affairs of man. However, the positive teachings of God’s love can allow a society to do all the things that God does not, will not or cannot do in society. (The items you mentioned.)
        The very, very, very fine line is that one cannot truly assume God’s will (an incredibly arrogant act) and attempt to act on that assumption. It is that assumption that I believe causes all organized religion to fail God in some way, and causes most of the strife we have created in our global society.

      • To non-thiest: I want to thank you for your thoughtful post. Much of what you condemn is anathema to me, too. The only way in which I disagree with your post is that it feels to me that you are talking about a certain “type” of Christian faith — one that is a very recent creation and quite different from my own.

        As a lapsed Quaker my faith is much more a pre-mid-20th C belief system. My practice is that it is belief in God that should make us feel humble, part of a large picture of creation, not in the least entitled to special consideration and immediate forgiveness. I also believe that we must follow Jesus’ direction of praying privately rather than publicly.

        We do not pray to win a soccer game or for the healing of a child but to find peace and acceptance with the natural course of a natural world which is ruled by natural consequences.

        We have an expression — “centering down” to hear “the still small voice of God.” It can seem like, and perhaps IS, a way of finding an imaginary image of our own creation but whatever one finds when one centers down is private, peaceful, and reinforces the belief that we are each responsible for our own morality.

        Unlike many I know who style themselves “evangelical” or “born again” I do not see God as the author of “fairness” or “unfairness” or expect Him to interfere in daily life to protect the innocent, the guilty, or both. As a 19th C historian I know that no “Christians” in that century did either.

        Both professionally and privately I feel like my head is spinning when I listen to prominent so-called Christians being interviewed who state that the Christian faith has “always” been this that or the other thing. What you take to task in your post is a fairly modern belief system I do not recognize, either.

    • your repeated use of the word ‘enemy’ reveals you to be an intolerant and hateful person, ready and willing to subjugate another person against their will to conform to your belief. you are an abhorrent reminder of past tribal human instinct.

      • if someone wages war upon you, they are automatically your enemy. that does not necessarily imply that the one being waged war upon is hateful or intolerant. religious zealots have been waging war against those who do not believe as they do for centuries. are girls seeking an education and subsequently killed or maimed hateful and intolerant? after all, they are the enemies of religious zealots. is every woman in the U.S. who chooses to use responsible contraception hateful and intolerant to those who would legally limit her access to affordable birth control? after all, those who use birth control are the enemies of religious zealots in the Catholic Church.

        it’s time for you to wake up and stop being the enemy of reason.

      • Wesley Lindsey

        The only religious freedoms that a lot of Christian groups really want is the freedom to force THEIR religious views on everyone else on the planet.

    • Note, however, that the title of this article concerns religious freedom. It does not exclusively discuss Christian freedom and this is part of the problem with the state of religious freedom in America.

      Historically (and even presently), Christians enjoy a virtually uninterrupted level of religious freedom and religious recognition of power in society. When someone does something that is even remotely religiously neutral or inclusive, they are deemed “at war” with religious freedom (reads “Christian freedom”).

      The replacing of the word “Christmas” with “Holiday” in stores is a perfect example. This was seen as more inclusive by many store owners, yet many Christians were up in arms about a “war on Christmas”, when it was merely an exercise on the part of store owners to adopt a more inclusive message around that time of year to bring in more attention and profits for all groups of people.

      I know of a few examples of pagan stores that have had rocks thrown through their windows multiple times. I know of a Buddhist monastery in West Virginia that experiences a great deal of hostility from neighbors. Some Christian denominations are at each others throats. Many Americans were up in arms and actively sought to block the opening of a mosque in downtown Manhattan because it was a few blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center when it was in reality a Muslim Community Center that had a mosque, but also offered so much more.

      As others on here have most certainly suggested, religious liberty in America is suffering a tad, but most of that suffering isn’t against Christians who are the dominant religion and benefit from advanced social molding; it is against non-Christians who are seen as “the enemy” by people like you.

    • St. Augustine tells us that God and the Scripture inspires only towards Caritas. And yet humans are foolish, and we assume that whatever we like, God likes too. So anytime you think you know what God wants or likes or feels, remember that you’re wrong.

    • Dick Brandlon

      Your devotion to your belief is commendable. However, please don’t ask others to trust your sources as infallible.”Teachings that God have laid out for us to follow” are the teachings interpreted by the same people who made the mistakes in the first place. Divine inspiration may be enough for you, but it’s not quite enough for millions, if not billions, of others. Please bear in mind the incredible injustices, tortures, massacres and outrages committed in HIS name by people who justified their actions by “God’s teachings.”

  3. These people worried about religious liberty don’t even know what that means. They think religious liberty means a Christian theocracy imposed by force on all of us. So of course when people resist that nightmarish vision, the theocrats think their religious liberties are under attack.

  4. Well, I DO, in fact, want to change what the Evangelicals think traditional Christian values are. The problem is that what they think are traditional Christian values aren’t. These frightened gerbils are just going to self-immolate eventually because they’re just terrorized by the idea that they will no longer be the majority. My concern is that they will resort, like all terrorists, to just killing those who appear to them to be different from them. Run and hide, little gerbils! Run and hide! or….. Wake the f*** up and find your place in the human family. Sheesh!

  5. Aaron Nielsen

    *I am a religious person who is greatly afraid of the infringement of my religous freedom*
    There I said it, you may flame me. But I do urge you to read my arguements before labeling me a bigot.

    I believe that we in the nation are constitutionally endowed with enormous religious rights. We (should have) the right to publicly speak our beliefs in the public sqaure, we should not be forced to adhere to beliefs against our religious tenets, and we should not expect others to do so.

    I am sorry that you have been ill treated by “Judeo-Christians” who dont understand your right to not have religion… BUT

    An employer, for instance, who has an objection to contraception should not be forced to provide it. I did not say he should go out of his way to remove access to it, the woman is perfectly free to search for coverage on her own that covers contraception that does not have any connection to the employer.

    A government should fight for the upholding of natural marriage between 1 man and 1 woman because these strong units which were the birth of society are easy to govern. We should get rid of “no-fault” divorce because it turns marriage into a union between two selfish adults and not a union between two loving adults and their children. The government has no interest in “defining marriage” as anything other than a relationship that brings forth children unless they want to tax it.

    I have no problem with “Happy Holidays” I dont think we should require people to say merry christmas, but if the local government feels that it would benefit some people in their community to put up a nativity, or a cross, or menorah, or crecent moon, or giant test tube, then they should do it to serve their citizens.

    Separation of church and state is to protect the church from the state, not the state from the church.

    Look at countries where people dont have freedom of religion. People are killed, tortured or murdered for hsving different religions. In Canada clergy are imprisoned for saying “I think gay marriage is not the ideal way to raise children”

    If this is the governments idea of freedom of speech, I am afraid that one day if my child logically deduces that “policy a” is not something he would vote for, what consequences will befall him?

    I think people on both sides need to really define what religious freedom is.

    • I don’t agree that separation of church and state is only to protect the church from the state. It is also to protect the state from a church!

    • Aaron Nielson writes ‘In Canada clergy are imprisoned for saying “I think gay marriage is not the ideal way to raise children”’. I think he is referring to a particular case, Lund vs. Boisson, the details of may have been inaccurately characterized along the way. Reverend Stephen Boisson was prosecuted on a human rights complaint by Dr. Darren Lund, rising from Dr. Boisson’s 2002 editorial stating in part that “Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.” This was a civil complaint, not a criminal one, and he was never jailed. He was defended by the Canadian Civil Liberties Union. He was initially fined $5,000 and ordered to cease making such disparaging remarks, but that was overturned emphatically on appeal. So this supposed example of the threat to (vicious bigotry disguised as) religious expression is actually an example of the legal system acting to protect it.
      If there is some other case he is referring to, he’s welcome to be more specific.

    • According to the source website:

      “Notional” Christians are individuals who identify themselves as Christian yet do not meet the criteria for being “born again.”

      • I resent that being “notional”, as if they somehow aren’t Real True Christians. I would argue for “Traditional Christians” or perhaps “Baptismal Christians”, as the whole born-again thing is a post-Reformation was introduced to popular culture in the 60s and 70s.

  1. [...] Religion News Service: Poll shows a double standard on religious liberty Half of Americans worry that religious freedom in the U.S. is at risk, and many say activist groups — particularly gays and lesbians — are trying to remove “traditional Christian values” from the public square. The findings of a poll published Wednesday (Jan. 23), reveal a “double standard” among a significant portion of evangelicals on the question of religious liberty, said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a California think tank that studies American religion and culture. While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, “they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said Kinnamon. [...]

  2. [...] “They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation.” …. Read this in full at http://www.religionnews.com/2013/01/23/poll-shows-a-double-standard-on-religious-liberty/ [...]

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