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A negative aspect of religious freedom


The transition from: "freedom of belief" to
"religious freedom to control, discriminate
and/or oppress others

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image of two elephants opposing each other Quotations:

  • Maya Angelou: "... equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it."

  • George Takei: "If you have to make laws to hurt a group of people just to prove your morals and faith, then you have no true morals of faith to prove."

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About the transition from religious freedom of belief to religious freedom to hurt others:

While monitoring:

we noticed a radical shift in the definition of "religious freedom" and its near-synonym "religious liberty:"

  • FROM the historical meaning: the freedom of religious belief, speech, practice, assembly, and proselytizing by believers. Attacks on religious freedom typically:
    • Involved governments or larger faith groups as perpetrators, and

    • Involved faith groups or individuals as victims.

  • TO the freedom demanded by faith groups or believers to oppress or denigrate others, to discriminate against them, and/or to mount political campaigns to deny them equal rights. New attacks on religious freedom typically:
    • Involve individual believers, faith groups, companies or parachurch organizations as perpetrators, and

    • Involve either women or members of sexual minorities as victims.

Religious freedom once referred mostly to the believers' right to express religious ideas and to engage in religious practices. Now it is becoming mostly about the freedom for individuals and religious groups to take actions that limit other people's human rights and freedoms without incurring negative consequences themselves.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Recommended book:

book cover image Robert Boston, "Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $12.26 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $7.86.

Amazon.com book description:

"Increasingly, conservative religious groups are using religious liberty as a sword to lash out at others. In this forcefully argued defense of the separation of church and state, Robert Boston makes it clear that the religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is an individual right, the right of personal conscience, not a license allowing religious organizations to discriminate against and control others. The book examines the controversy over birth control, same-sex marriage, religion in public schools, the intersection of faith and politics, and the 'war on Christmas,' among other topics.

Boston concludes with a series of recommendations for resolving clashes between religious liberty claims and individual rights."

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious freedom > here

Home > Important essays > Religious freedom > here

Home > Religious information > Religious freedom > here

Home > Human rights > Religious freedom > here

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Using Religion to Discriminate," ACLU, at: https://www.aclu.org/
  2. Shadee Ashtari, "Kansas State House Passes Bill Allowing Refusal Of Services To Same-Sex Couples," 2014-FEB-12, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  3. Chas Sisk, "TN lawmakers drop wedding vendors bill," The Tennessean, 2014-FEB-18, at: http://www.tennessean.com/
  4. Paul Guequierre, "New Extreme Cincinnati Archdiocese Teacher Contract Takes Anti-LGBT Discrimination to a New Level," Human Rights Campaign, 2014-MAR-18, at: http://www.hrc.org/

Copyright © 2009 t0 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2009-DEC-08
Latest update: 2015-APR-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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