Religious Liberty in Post-Christian America

If you’re not aware, religious liberty is currently the hot button political topic within Evangelicalism and Catholicism (and perhaps Mormonism as well). The topic came to the national forefront in the last couple of weeks due to a bill that was attempting passage in Arizona.  I saw a flurry of articles recommend on the topic.  Some with an understanding of the political and legal nuances of the topic, others without. The rhetorical battle got kicked off with one Christian columnist claiming that Evangelicals wanted to reinstate Jim Crow laws, followed by a blogger declaring that there should be no discrimination laws at all. I personally felt challenged by a blogger’s reminder to “go the extra mile” when we feel our rights are violated.

Eric recently shared an article with me that is basically the voice I’ve been looking for.  “Religious Liberty Should be a Liberal Value Too”  It explains the tension between pluralism (which is losing cultural prestige) and egalitarianism.  I highly recommend the article.

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8 thoughts on “Religious Liberty in Post-Christian America

  1. Most of the comments for the original post are oblivious to what the post is about. And then there are ones like this: “But the truth is [gays] don’t believe in tolerance at all. In reality, they are jack-booted homofascist thugs who want to use the totalitarian and tyrannical power of the state to send men of faith to jail. That sounds far more like Nazi Germany than
    the United States of America.” So much for a nuanced discussion …

    LDS leaders (some of them, anyway) have ramped up their rhetoric on religious freedom since the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA. While I agree that religious liberty is an important issue, I am concerned that they way they have addressed it is tied too closely to gay marriage and (to a lesser extent) Obamacare. But religious liberty is a much broader issue than those concerns, and the situation outside the U.S. has all but been ignored.

  2. I’ve not seen a thread hijacked so thoroughly as in that comment section. From religious liberty straight to the nuances of the Flood narrative. Amazing.

    But the article is very good Tim. As someone who finds himself politically liberal but still socially conservative in a lot of ways, I agree that liberal pluralism *needs* religious liberty. How that looks, I don’t exactly know.

    FWIW, I’m still skeptical of the crys of religious tolerance for the following reasons: They almost always come from the dominant traditions in society (Protestant, Catholic), almost never include (or are in defense of) minority religions (especially Islam) and – because of the first two points – come from a place of historical intolerance. As in, the bully who finally gets coldcocked and then wants to know why we can’t all get along.

    I was really disappointed that more liberals and/or LBGT didn’t come out to defend the wedding cake guy (some did), but when you consider what gays have had to put up with from the same institutions/traditions that are now crying foul, I can hardly blame them.

  3. I try not to be a pessimist but I get the idea that the basic ability for people to just get along is being lost. The comments to the article are a prime example of people going out looking for a fight and manufacturing it.

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