Tolerance vs. other liberties?

The University of Michigan was going to screen the Academy-Award-nominated American Sniper, but then cancelled it when students launched a petition claiming the movie was intolerant of Muslims.  But then other students launched a counter-petition saying that the university should show the movie in the name of artistic liberty and the freedom of expression.  Whereupon the university cancelled its cancellation and agreed to show the movie after all.

But the incident shows that the principle of tolerance above all can be used for many different purposes.  A consensus seems to be emerging that tolerance should trump religious liberty.  Might the demand for tolerance also be used to trump other civil liberties?

Freedom of Speech is arguably already muted by speech codes.  I suspect that we need to formally and legally work out the boundaries between tolerance and civil liberties.  Any ideas about how to draw those lines? [Read more...]

Our established religion

Yuval Levin says that the religious liberty issues raised by the response to the Indiana Religious Freedom law involves not just the First Amendment’s right to the “free exercise” of religion, but maybe even more so to the clause forbidding the “establishment” of religion.  What we have today being imposed is a single, authoritative religious ideology, equivalent to a state church:  that of progressive liberalism.

Levin then delves into James Madison on this subject and contrasts his position to that of John Locke, who advocated “toleration” of different views on the part of individuals but would not allow their institutional expression, since that had to be limited by the ideology of the state church. [Read more...]

“Free range” kids temporarily taken away from parents

We blogged about the parents in Maryland who got in trouble for letting their six and ten year old children walk home by themselves.  (See this and this.)   It happened again, and this time the Child Protective Services took their kids, if only temporarily.  CPS had found the parents guilty of child neglect, so this second offence could have serious consequences for the family.

UPDATE:  It’s even worse when we learn what the cops and the CPS put the children through.  Yes, we should worry about kids being abducted, but notice who abducted them.

[Read more...]

What Is Religious Freedom, anyway?

Think-tanker Joseph Backholm cites some of the absurdities and posturing in the controversy over the Indiana Religious Freedom act–such as Apple threatening to stop doing business in Indiana, while still doing business in Saudi Arabia where gays can be executed, and a governor banning state travel to Indiana even though his state has a broader Religious Freedom statute than Indiana’s.

But then he gets to the underlying issue:   People have different understandings of what religious freedom means.  Is it just the freedom to attend worship services?  Does it just apply to internal beliefs but not to actions?  Does it only apply to individuals and not to what those individuals do when they operate a business?  He gets into the history of the issue  and the legal precedents in a way that people on all sides of the issue need to understand.  He also shows how the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has actually been used. [Read more...]

Don’t expect religious exemptions from gay laws

Some Christians have said that the way to accommodate the new pro-gay laws is to accept them, but build in religious exemptions.  That is not going to be acceptable in the gay rights juggernaut.

Indiana has passed a religious freedom law, allowing individuals to claim an exemption in the courts when government action “substantially burdens” their religious beliefs.  Now thousands are protesting and boycotting the state, claiming that the law will enable people who have religious objections to homosexuality to discriminate against gays.

Christians need to realize that gays want to be accepted exactly on a par with heterosexuals, and they demand acceptance precisely from those who haven’t accepted them before.

I suspect that even among the general public anti-discrimination laws will trump religious freedom laws every time.  So will pastors who refuse to conduct gay weddings be charged with illegal discrimination?  I can see that happening.  Can you? [Read more...]

Big local government

Conservatives complain about Big Government, saying that huge, distant, super-powerful centralized government should often give way to decentralized state and local governments.  But what about when local governments do what big centralized government does?  That has become an issue in Texas. . . . [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X