Freedom OF religion versus Freedom FROM religion

OK, I don’t expect folks to like this but I would like clarify a distinction that I think many people blur. The difference between freedom of religion and freedom from religion. One of the fundamental guaranteed rights in the U.S. is the freedom of religion. It means, to me, that every individual has the right to believe what they want and act, within the laws of the country, on those beliefs.

I believe in the God of Moses, Jacob, and Abraham. I believe that Jesus was the Christ, the son of God, who sacrificed himself so that I could have a relationship with God. This is a mystery I don’t fully understand am not worthy of, but accept. I believe that choosing to deny Christ is choosing to deny the sinfulness of mankind and the holiness of God. Because of my belief I do my best to Love others to the best of my ability within the confines of Christ’s teachings. I believe that people who don’t believe these things are wrong. That’s where we run into a problem.

More frequently I run into people who take offense at my belief. They act as if I am their judge (I am not). They tell me I can believe whatever I want, as long as I acknowledge that their beliefs are equally valid. But to do that would violate my faith and my religion. You see, the people who ask this of me, I believe, are not interested in freedom of religion but freedom from religion. The idea is to not let people believe anything. So long as it’s all just interesting intellectualism and discussion it’s all fine. But once someone makes a choice and chooses a Faith, then you see the anger, outrage, and prejudice come out. Ironically, these are the exact things "Christians" are often painted with.

Now, before you started screaming about all of the atrocities that have been done in the name of God and Christ and point at all the priests who have mollested children let me point out one detail. I haven’t done those things. Deal with me as an individual and don’t stereotype me any more than you would want me to stereotype you. I will also point out that an evil homicidal maniac can just as easily say "I’m doing this in the name of God." as he can say "I’m doing this because you robbed me in a past life." It doesn’t change the fact that the individual a homicidal maniac and should be treated as such.

I think a good example of freedom of religion versus freedom from religion is how two countries handle Christian radio. In the U.S., you can find it, and there’s nothing stopping any other religion from doing the same thing. In Canada, however, it was decided that to be fair it was better to ban any station from broadcasting a single religious point of view. Thus, Christian radio is banned in Canada. That is freedom from religion. Or, more truthfully, I would call it an attack on all religions and faiths. I don’t want to see that happen in the U.S.

It is not my job to convert people to Christianity. It is my responsibility to show God’s Love for all people and let Him take care of the the heart stuff. I sincerely want everyone on earth to accept Christ as their Lord. I know not everyone will. I don’t hate people who don’t. I’m willing to die obeying God’s Will in my life. I don’t have to worry about being willing to kill or injure or maime to obey His Will because those things are not Love and have no place in His Will for mankind period. (And no, I’m not going to get into Old Testament contradictions on that for now but I can speak to those issues as well if you ask)

I hope this clarifies my concern about this distinction I’m seeing in freedom of religion versus freedom from religion and that others will think more conciously about it as well.

About Michael Wigle

I am a servant of Christ who is married and has two children and three grandchildren. For employment, I am the IT Manager and the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I also have a wide variety of interests from economics to politics to caving.
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