“Freedom of religion” meant, at America’s founding, freedom from being forced by jail, torture, or threat of execution to attend, pay, or agree with any church. It meant no “religious test” before one could hold political office, buy land, or become a citizen if one was an immigrant. It meant no discrimination by government to reward or punish religious speech or worship.
Today it also means, not only that government can’t discriminate, but that a merchant can’t “discriminate” against a believer of any religion by refusing to hire him, or serve him as a customer; a landlord can’t refuse to rent to him; and a bank must lend to him.
Even some misdemeanors (violations of minor laws) are “accommodated” for the sake of one’s religion; felonies are not.
Courts define “religion” as any deeply held belief that guides one’s actions, a definition indistinguishable from a definition of insanity; these laws and rulings, from America’s founding through the present, make no inquiry whether the protected belief is grounded in reality.
The test of religious belief…is whether it is a sincere and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualified for the exemption. U.S. v. Seeger, (1965)
Determining whether the registrant’s beliefs are religious is whether these beliefs play the role of religion… We think it clear that the beliefs which prompted his objection occupy the same place in his life as the belief in a traditional deity holds in the life of his friends, the Quakers… A registrant’s conscientious objection to all war is ‘religious’…if this opposition stems from the registrant’s moral, ethical, or religious beliefs about what is right and wrong and these beliefs are held with the strength of traditional religious convictions. Elliot Welsh v. U.S. (1970)
A religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being…Atheism is indeed a form of religion… The Court has adopted a broad definition of ‘religion’ that includesl non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as theistic ones. Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, (W.D. WI) August 19, 2005.
“Sexual orientation” is equally “protected”, though it could just as well fall under the protection of religion, since it is a belief that one is a different gender than a glance in the bathroom mirror would indicate, without any requirement that such belief be grounded in reality. Whether or not one was “born that way”, whether or not one has chosen to be “that way” and may choose not to be that way, our sexual choices, courts say, are as much a part of “who we are” as our religious choices.
“Because sexual orientation is such an essential component of personhood, even if there is some possibility that a person’s sexual preference can be altered, it would be wholly unacceptable for the state to require anyone to do so.” VARNUM v. BRIEN, Supreme Court of Iowa, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009)
Americans have never before been forced to consider the merits of religions in its legal protection of all religions, because the religious accommodations considered in the past were of only minor conflicts with our laws. But with the spread of Islam’s Sharia Law across Europe and lapping at the edges of U.S. law, we find our most heinous crimes protected by Sharia, and our most cherished liberties ruthlessly prosecuted.
This attacks our Rule of Law from two directions. First, through trials over “accommodation” of religious belief. Second, in the understanding by voters of our very definitions of crimes.
In our form of government – a Republic, where “we the people” elect representatives to apply the general principles we support into the making of our laws, our majority chooses the general principles by which we are willing to be governed. To the extent, therefore, that Moslem belief or toleration of Islam influences the majority, then to that same extent, the elements of Sharia must inevitably displace our existing laws, leaving us to be ruled by Islamic clerics.
The Christian shape of our existing laws is obvious from the most cursory comparison of laws created by Christian majorities such as in America, with the laws developed by Hinduism, Islam, atheism, animism, etc. in the absence of Christian influence. But asserting that fact will not be enough to save our laws as Islam grows; it can only paint the target on our laws, for Moslems, a brighter red.
The greatest threat to our laws is not growing Moslem influence, but three other things.
First, our way of life is threatened by the diminishing willingness of Christians to value Christian laws. This results from confusion: our laws treat all religions alike without regard to their merits or their grounding in reality, and citizens too readily confuse what is legal for what is right. So if our laws treat all religions with equal protection, shouldn’t we publicly treat all religions with equal respect? We certainly get creamed by news media if we don’t! But we equally get creamed by other Christians.
Second, our way of life is threatened by the diminishing willingness of all Americans to reason with each other even when we disagree. Personal attacks are, by definition, distractions from evidence and reason. Personal attacks are nothing new, but before the internet, publishers seldom printed or aired anonymous attacks. Now the internet is full of them. Anonymity allows people to be mean, destructive jerks without risking their respectable public image.
Third, Noninvolvement Theologies keep the Light, of what God says about government-protected Darkness, bottled up in church “bushels” (Matthew 5:13-17) where it can’t threaten or embarrass the Darkness. (Renamed “politics”.) Occasional sermons about the Darkness are allowed, but discussion by members on church premises is not allowed to go into more detail about the nature of the government’s role, to establish consensus about God’s political position, or to strategize how members can work together to neutralize it. Members are permitted to do that outside church with strangers, not with fellow members motivated by the same sermons since networking with members isn’t allowed. But Christian activists don’t conduct Bible studies, organizing together outside their many churches, to double check how well their positions really line up with the Bible. So neither inside church nor outside, are the Light and the Darkness brought together.
Islam is forcing Christians off the fence. Unfortunately not all jump wisely. Islam forces Christians whose religion is love and freedom to find a way to stop treating religions of bigotry and torture as their equal, and a handy way to distinguish between them is to observe which one is grounded in reality, and a handy way to establish which one is supported by evidence is to reason with each other in forums as Biblically equipped as churches but which invite reasoning even between people who disagree.
Because if we remain apathetic about reality – equating all religions without inquiring which one is true, we will lose everything. Our freedom, our religion, our economy, our technology, our peace and safety. We will be beheaded for Jesus. And not with those nice, sleek, quick, French guillotines.
God wants us to interact. God wants “all” to vigorously, verbally interact, in church – 1 Corinthians 14. The Bible commands, we ignore. God is sending Moslems to loosen our tongues.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.