Thursday, January 24, 2013

Religious Freedom Isn't Free

Huffington Post has an article up today about a new poll that provides some insight into the roots of the Poor Oppressed Christian phenomenon that I've been covering here on Augoeides for awhile now. The poll identifies a double standard at the heart of the "poor oppressed" ideology, in that a significant subset of respondents were very concerned about protecting religious freedoms while at the same time expressing a strong desire that Judeo-Christian beliefs dominate American culture. This leads me to conclude that the reason these folks whine is that simple logic is not working out very well for them.

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. "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."

Religious freedom has become an increasingly important political issue within the last year, as Republican candidates hammered President Obama for a contraception mandate that many conservatives feel tramples on the religious freedom of employers who must cover birth control in their health plans.

The poll of 1,008 adults showed that 29 percent of respondents were "very" concerned that religious liberties are under threat, and 22 percent "somewhat" concerned. Evangelicals were the religious group most likely to be concerned, at 71 percent. Asked for their opinion as to why religious freedom is threatened, 97 percent of evangelicals agreed that "some groups have actively tried to move society away from traditional Christian values."

The price of protecting religious freedom is that not everyone is going to agree on matters of faith. This is both unavoidable and as it should be. The American system in which there is no state church and government plays no role in promoting particular religious denominations works, and it works well. Most European nations have state churches, but many people wind up treating them like one more branch of government. The American religious scene is more diverse, more vibrant, and more engaging than what you will generally find in any of those countries. I contend that this is precisely because in the United States religious freedom has strong protections - and those protections mean that one set of beliefs should never come to dominate our culture.
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BrnLng said...

As every top-authority or top-authority-wannabe, they are only trying to secure a plan-B for not losing many followers-count on the long run. Probably securing a 50% time on every people's eyes for historical reasons alone.

Scott Stenwick said...

I would agree that's probably the case. It's an interesting observation that so far these conservative denominations seem to have less trouble overall recruiting members than more liberal ones, but at the same time children who grow up in those same conservative churches tend to leave in droves. Familiarity breeds contempt, I suppose.