Thursday, January 8, 2015

When It is Time to Limit Someone’s Freedom

--> We've all heard it said, "Faith and politics don't mix".  I'm not so sure.

I believe that there are some points where faith (and for lack of a better term) political beliefs do intersect.  My understanding of my Christian faith is that it does and should guide all my other beliefs since it is so much of who I am.  So, for me and most folks who have any sort of religious convictions, saying we must separate our faith from our politics is quite difficult, if not unreasonable

This week’s terrorist attack in Paris – the latest in a string of Islamic induced atrocities – is one of those intersections. 

As an American who still believes in the basic foundations of our society as framed by the authors of our Constitution I am stronger than horseradish on our freedoms or rights guaranteed by that document.  Two of those freedoms - religion and speech - are magnified in a world where in the name of a god some men feel the right and obligation to squelch the rights of others…even if that squelching means their death.

I’ll defend your right to belittle my faith.  Likely we won’t have much of a social relationship if you do, but you have that right. Like it or not, our right of free speech endows us with the right to be offensive.  But if you are I won’t seek to kill you.  And why not? In this country and in western civilization such a right to kill is not recognized. 

Likewise, we are blessed to worship as we choose, not as the government chooses for us.  That’s the primary reason the Pilgrims exited the Old World.  In England they were told what church was legitimate, and because they chose to practice their faith differently they felt compelled to go somewhere where they might have religious freedom.  And for their daring and vision we should be grateful, whether we have adopted their views or not.  We benefit from their sacrifice.

But as free speech has limits – the SCOTUS says we cannot yell “FIRE” in a theater (for example) – so does the freedom of religion.  One such example of a limit is when a man’s religion tells him that it is somehow a “holy” thing to kill “infidels” (those who have another faith).  In a free country sometimes freedom has necessary restrictions to protect the rights of all.

If indeed, as some who know more about it than I, a basic tenet of Islam (as given in the Koran) is to destroy all “infidels” then should the practice of Islam be allowable as a religion in nations where men and women are free to choose?  If (and I believe there are) some Muslims who reject that tenet, are they aware of the “fanatics” among us who live to kill non-Muslims?  If they are, and they are covering up, whether out of fear or out of some sense of fraternity, are they not also guilty? 

I’m not sure how, in France for example, once the door is opened to all (regardless that they may hold to beliefs detrimental to the good of society) the door can be shut.  But it’s obvious that in some instances we all can’t just get along.  Maybe France will be stunned enough to realize what they have allowed in the spirit of liberty could spell the end if changes are not made. 

And I’m not sure we in America should wait for France, Britain or Germany to show us the way.  But we had better soon begin to realize that there are times to limit freedom when that freedom threatens to end our way of life.

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