Spirituality, human rights and religious truth
Two meanings of religious freedom & liberty:
1. Freedom of beliefs, speech, & practices and
2. Freedom to restrict services to, to hate, to
or to oppress others.
About the meanings of the terms "religious freedom" and "religious liberty:"
Conflicts over religious freedom and religious liberty are considered by many to be the most important religious conflicts of our time.
In the past, these terms typically referred to freedom by individuals and minority faith groups of:
- Religious belief,
- Religious speech,
- Religious assembly with fellow believers, and
- Religious proselytizing and recruitment.
The individual believer was often the target of oppression by others -- typically large religious groups and governments. That is the meaning that we generally use on this web site.
Typical examples in North America were:
- High levels of hatred and violence directed against the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century, largely by Protestants.
- Restrictions enforced by the U.S. and Canadian governments on religious practices by Native Americans.
- Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses during World War II. Many of these conflicts led to lawsuits that define the limits of religious freedom that North Americans enjoy today.
- Persecution directed against Wiccans and other NeoPagans during the 1980's and 1990's because of the Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax.
However, in recent years, religious liberty & freedom seem to be taking on a new meaning: the freedom and liberty of a believer apply their religious beliefs in order to hate, oppress, deny service to, denigrate, or reduce the human rights of other groups.
Now, the direction of the oppression has reversed. It is now the believer who is the oppressor and others -- typically women, sexual and other minorities -- who are the targets. This new meaning is becoming increasingly common. It appears that this change is begin driven by a number of factors:
- The increasing public acceptance of women's use of birth control/contraceptives. This is a practice regarded as a personal decision by most faith groups, but is actively opposed by the Roman Catholic and a few other conservative faith groups.
- The increasing public acceptance of equal rights for sexual minorities including the LGBT community (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender persons and transsexuals); and
- The increasing percentage of NOTAs in North America. These are individuals who are NOT Affiliated with an organized faith group. Some identify themselves as Agnostics, Atheists secularists, Humanists, free thinkers, etc. Others say that they are spiritual, but not religious.
The media often refer to NOTAs as "Nones" because they are affiliated to none of the faith groups. However,
the words Nones and Nuns are homophomes: words that sound alike but are spelled differently and which hold very different meanings. To avoid confusion, we recommend against this practice and recommend the unambiguous term "NOTA."
Topics covered in this section:
Information about the two meanings of "religious freedom:"
Four examples of the conflict:
Two legal cases involving the freedom of religious belief/expression; two involving the freedom to denigrate or refuse to work with others: Part 1 Part 2
Major conflicts between the LGBT community and religious conservatives:
A fast-rising problem, largely over the supply of same-sex wedding-related goods and services
"Whose religious or secular rights take precedence over other peoples' rights?" An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
The new meaning of the term:
The freedom to discriminate and oppress others on religious grounds << Sadly, a large & growing section
||Status of religious freedom:
||Statements, speeches, petitions, etc. on religious freedom and tolerance:
||In the United States:
|| laws and regulations guaranteeing, limiting, or promoting religious freedom:
Paraphrased, with changes, from Forum 18 at: http://www.forum18.org.
- Jill Lawless, "Christian employee discriminated against for wearing crucifix, court rules," Associated Press, 2013-JAN-15
Copyright © 2006 to 2013 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2006-NOV-05
Author: B.A. Robinson