With John Kerry parading around the Middle East we are sure to hear a few vacuous remarks about religious freedom from a part of the world where the idea has no meaning. Americans are loath to rethink religious freedom and even insist it be imposed worldwide on those who don’t have the slightest notion what we are referring to and who would be angry if they figured it out.
Why do we hold on to this right when our abuse of it argues that it has outlived its purpose? The president referred to religious liberty as a “universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe.”¹ Seriously? We freely abuse religious freedom when it suits us and don’t think twice about it. Here are five ways we violate this right.
1. Impose it on Muslim nations.
Muslim nations already have religious freedom. Their people have the freedom to be Muslim and the freedom not to be Muslim. The second option is not a wise choice, a fact that is not going to change no matter how many speeches Kerry makes. Our government needs to face this ugly truth because not understanding it puts Americans in harm’s way.
2. Allow churches to take political stances with no tax consequences.
So the Tea Party does not deserve tax exempt status but churches can keep their tax exempt status while openly supporting a rabidly partisan immigration bill that will swell their ranks of followers? Is that how religious freedom works?
3. Violate it during elections.
Religious freedom during campaign season is laughable. Elections bring out questions about candidates’ religious affiliations and even the words and deeds of clergy in the churches they attend. Just ask Barack Obama about the 2008 election.
4. Mix it up with big government.
From public officials backing the Ground Zero Mosque to birth control in Obamacare, religion and big government don’t mix well. Isn’t that why we like to pretend we separate church and state?
5. Demand religious tolerance when it kills people.
Politicians Hide Behind Smokescreen of Religious Tolerance questioned the danger of being tolerant towards those with violently anti-American beliefs. If we ever decide that religious freedom has become a dangerous anachronism, Islam will be the reason.
The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. A dead British soldier and murdered Americans in Boston testify to how well religious tolerance works when the intolerant are not on the same page as the rest of us.