Religious Freedom in America Isn’t Threatened — Not Even Close

Religious Freedom in America Isn’t Threatened — Not Even Close March 26, 2014

This month’s topic in the Patheos Public Square is: “Is Religious Freedom Threatened?” Please read and comment on my opinion, and read the others too. Here’s my response:

No. Not even close.

There are two dynamics at play in this idea that religious freedom (that is, Christian religious freedom) is under siege in America. The obvious one is in the various battles around individual laws and protections some folks want upheld or abolished. It’s an issue of rights and liberties and how they should be protected. Much more on that in a minute. The other dynamic, which is fueling the strong emotions, is that whether you believe it’s what the founders intended or not, structurally, the United States has been a white Christian (mostly male Protestant) country since its founding, and we are near a tipping point. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s a fact of demographics. There also has been an erosion in unthinking deference to institutions.

So, some folks are scared. I for one think it will be a good thing for Christianity to have to make its case in the marketplace, alongside other viewpoints. For it to be humiliated into humility. I believe its place of privilege has done it harm, corrupting it with concerns about protecting earthly power and silencing other voices, making it lazy about explaining itself. I’m confident that in the realignment ahead, Christianity based on Christ’s Truth will be just fine, thank you.

Now, about rights. A lot of recent noise was thanks to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ freak-out over contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act. So let’s take that example. It’s very simple. No one is making you take contraception. Period. No threat. End of story.

Similarly, no one is forcing anyone — Mormon, Catholic, atheist — to gay marry. The “radical homosexual agenda” boils down to gay people asking for equal opportunity in a secular society. Nothing infringing on anyone else’s rights.

The freedoms enshrined in the United States focus on the right to be left alone — to do what you want in your home; say what you want; own a gun if you want; practice whatever religion or no religion you want — essentially, the right not to be forced to do anything you don’t want to do, and the right to do whatever you want to do as long as in so doing you don’t infringe on the rights of another person.

Early settlers had fled countries where state-enshrined religions criminalized other belief systems; worse, where changes in monarchs caused the official religion to flip, then flip back again; countries where a king could change laws and taxes at his whim (ordained by God). Out of this experience, they tried to build a system that said, Live and let live.

The big Cold War contrast between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was not capitalism versus communism. It was the freedom inherent in our system versus the lack of freedom enshrined in their version of state socialism.

Disagreement on specific issues often comes from the interplay between positive rights — entitlement to something from fellow citizens — positive liberty — the ability to do whatever you want — negative liberty — freedom from restraints — and negative rights — the right not to be coerced into doing what you don’t want to do.

Contraception’s inclusion in the ACA  (and the ACA itself) is a positive right — if anyone wants contraception, society provides it. Requiring employers to offer policies that include contraception impinges on their negative rights a bit, but only a little: no one is making anyone use contraception. More clear-cut: the positive liberty for gay people to marry does not infringe on anyone else’s rights.

Of course, most recognize a general preference to live and let live. The disagreement comes in that tricky formulation, “as long as in so doing you don’t infringe on the rights of another person.” Those opposing gay marriage say, I think unconvincingly, that people who are part of the straight marriage system are being affected.

The Catholic bishops and others try to say that the slight interference with employer’s right to choose health plans without contraception is equivalent to coercing them into participation in contraception. In a pluralistic secular society, this is absurd. On this basis, nearly every person of faith could and should refuse to pay any taxes because some of those dollars are going to something they disagree with on religious grounds: war, torture, pig farming, you name it. Some do exactly that. The bottom line is that each case is a judgment call. That’s called democracy. For a person of faith, this tension between your religious beliefs and the secular society’s laws and values is part of life.

The presumption that American law should be consistent with conservative Christian dogma may be threatened, but religious freedom is under no threat at all.

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  • billwald

    “Requiring employers to offer policies that include contraception impinges on their negative rights a bit, but only a little: no one is making anyone use contraception.”
    Yes. But should a Jewish caterer or Jewish employee of a Christian caterer be required to serve a an atheist wedding on Friday evening?

    • Alyxander M Folmer

      Did the Jewish person take a job which would clearly force them to work some or all Friday nights? Then yes, they shouldn’t be surprised that they have to work through Shabbat. Now, obviously it would be nice if the employer would work around their schedule, but that isn’t always possible Not all Christians get Sundays off, not all Wiccans get the full moon off, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

      Now if the issue is that it’s an Atheist wedding, that that person shouldn’t have taken a catering job in the first place. Your job as a wedding caterer is to serve food at weddings. End of story. If your faith prevents you from doing that, then get another job. Likewise, if your faith says you must be a pacifist, don’t become an active duty marine and expect to be able to uphold that commandment. If your faith says you cannot give out certain medications to patients, then don’t be come a doctor or a pharmacist and expect to keep your job.

  • Gus

    Here are 7 points in your essay that I think you are off base on.

    1) “It’s very simple. No one is making you take contraception. Period. No threat. End of story.” Except it’s not the end of the story. With the ACA, the government has ginned up a new “man-made” right that is mandatory: “health care insurance.” What’s more, the ACA also introduces “the right” to free contraception and “the right” to free abortifacients, and it is making me pay for these things so that others may have them. The real issue here is one of man-made rights vs. God- given rights, and how far a government can go in granting rights and taking them away. Governments are real good at granting rights. The problem is that in so doing they very often take away or at least infringe on the rights of others. In this instance a moral line has been crossed in the “granting” of another right.

    2) “The “radical homosexual agenda” boils down to gay people asking for equal
    opportunity in a secular society. Nothing infringing on anyone else’s rights.” Nice try, but this is not a question of “rights.” The “radical homosexual agenda” boils down to between one and three percent of the population trying to force the other 97% of the population to change their belief of what a “marriage” is. Also, at what point did ours become a ‘secular’ society? Whether or not this is a tactic to push secularization and social approval of what many see as a deviancy, while simultaneously undermining the traditional family does also enter in to it, but the simple fact is that a “Civil Union” would give homosexuals all of the legal rights and benefits of marriage without changing the definition of marriage. The fact
    that this is unacceptable to the “radical homosexual agenda” is very telling. See also number 7.

    3) “The freedoms enshrined in the United States focus on the right to be left alone . . . essentially, the right not to be forced to do anything you don’t want to do . . . as long as in so doing you don’t infringe on the rights of another person.” Correct. So why is the government forcing yet another new man-made right down my throat, forcing me go against my beliefs and forcing me pay for contraception and abortifacients for others, when these things are readily available over the counter at a very modest cost?

    4) “Disagreement on specific issues often comes from the interplay between positive rights . . . and negative rights . . . ” It also comes from disagreement over natural law and civil law, over the interpretation of laws and of the rights granted in our Constitution, and just how far a government is allowed to go in ginning up new entitlements, and to what extent a government can ‘coerce’ citizens, which can lead to totalitarianism and the total secularization of a society.

    5) “Contraception’s inclusion in the ACA (and the ACA itself) is a positive right — if anyone wants contraception, society provides it.” Except it is yet another new man-made right as opposed to a God-given right. See numbers 1-4. Also djr12’s
    comments on guns and ammunition fit very nicely here.

    6) “Those opposing gay marriage say, I think unconvincingly, that people who are part of the straight marriage system are being affected.” WOW! You coined a new term! What exactly is “the straight marriage system?” There is only marriage – the union of a man and a woman. Also see number 2.

    7) “For a person of faith, this tension between your religious beliefs and the secular society’s laws and values is part of life.” BINGO! A society that is secular is not all inclusive. In fact, a pluralistic society, by definition, must include those with strongly held religious beliefs. Trying to bring about fairness through legislation is pretty much a futile endeavor. The Rule of Law is a good thing, but as is often the case, too much of a good thing has bad consequences. More laws only result in the loss of freedom. See again numbers 3, 4 and 5.

    • Phil Fox Rose

      JGradGus, I appreciate your thorough reading of my piece and the serious way in which you engage its ideas. (BTW, I’m deleting your duplicate comment. I assume you just wanted to edit that.)

      Despite your picking apart of specific things I said, you seem to agree with the overall framework about rights and liberties. Your comments seem to boil down mostly to two issues.

      Issue 1: You keep saying “man-made rights” and contrast those with God-given rights.
      We live in a secular democracy and the public wants universal health care coverage. Am I to assume you also want to get rid of everything else in the federal government except national defense and interstate commerce regulation? Or is each “man-made right” a judgment call, as I say in my piece, and you just disagree with me and the general public about this judgment call.

      And by the way, do you want to test what the government does against scripture? What makes having an armed military and police force using death-delivering force to defend borders and private property — no matter how judiciously either thing is done — a God-given right, and basic health care coverage a man-made one? “I was sick and you took care of me” (Matthew 25:36b)

      Issue 2: You say that trying to bring about fairness through legislation is “pretty much a futile endeavor” and suggest therefor that any attempt by a secular society to regulate itself is invalid if it in any way infringes on the rights of members with “strongly held religious beliefs.”

      I agree that trying to bring about fairness through legislation is not as good as trying to bring it about by changing people’s hearts, which I also pursue. And my libertarian core resists government solutions when I see the possibility of a solution coming from elsewhere. But there have been many times when the society and the marketplace are not providing fairness and they show no signs of getting there anytime soon. In those cases, the government sometimes steps in to push things in the direction of fairness. I’ve been hearing about the health care crisis most of my life. The policy which became the ACA, as you may or may not know, was originally developed by the conservative libertarian Heritage Foundation and supported by a long list of Republican leaders who hypocritically turned against it when it was presented by Democrats (and the Republican Party had become more conservative.) Of course, it was also the basis of the health care bill that Romney proudly developed as a governor before as a presidential candidate promising to repeal the ACA. The simple fact is that the ACA is a moderate, relatively weak solution, designed by conservatives specifically to avoid impinging on people’s rights as much as possible while at the same time achieving the social good of providing universal coverage.

      Of course the government should always try to avoid treading on the rights of those with strongly held religious beliefs. But again we come back to the question of whether a God-given freedom has been infringed on, or whether what’s being infringed on is your belief that you should be able to limit a positive liberty of others because you disagree with them.

      As has been said ad nauseam, you are not paying for contraception, you are paying for an insurance plan that covers contraception for others. That is NOT a meaningless distinction. It’s a distinction the Catholic Church has been OK with at the state level for decades until its recent decision to wage war against the Obama Administration over this — which they did after losing their earlier attempt to kill the entire ACA, after having advocated for single-payer universal health care for decades previously.

      No one is forcing you to change your belief of what a marriage is. This is exactly the point. A positive liberty for homosexuals — the freedom to marry — conflicts with nothing on the other side. Homosexuals getting married does not impinge on your right to do anything or to not do anything, or your freedom to do anything or not do anything. You’re just expressing that you’re offended by the mere existence of gay marriage. That’s not a defensible right.

      You conclude by saying, “More laws only result in the loss of freedom.” I imagine homosexuals and those who’ve been without health coverage might disagree with that statement. As would African-Americans, women, multiracial married couples…

      The question is, why can’t you just live and let live? Let gay people get married. Let those who want contraception acquire it through their health insurance. How do these things harm you or your faith in any serious non-posturing way?

      • Gus

        Phil, actually I think we disagree more than we agree. For instance, I disagree with the basic premise of your essay, that religious freedom in America is not threatened, and I don’t think you made your case.

        In your essay you say there are two dynamics at play: 1) the issue of rights and liberties and how they should be protected, and, 2) that demographically we are no longer a “white Christian (mostly male Protestant) country” and because of this we are “at a
        tipping point.” You offer the ACA and the issue of homosexual marriage as examples of rights and liberties that, in your opinion, do not constitute a threat to religious freedom. Most of your essay is directed at attempting to prove this, but you only briefly touch on
        the demographics issue, saying, “an erosion in unthinking deference to institutions,” and fear have people thinking there is an attack on religious freedom. I don’t think anything you said
        really supports your premise.

        I gave seven specific reasons why I think you failed to make your case. You did not rebut any of them in your reply. Here are a few more.

        First of all, we do not live in a “secular democracy,” as you keep saying. We live in a Republic that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. There has been a concerted effort over many years by people to change this, and to turn the U.S. into a secular, socialist
        democracy, like so many European countries. This alone constitutes a threat to religious freedom. Secular means “not
        religious.” Religion will not and cannot flourish in a secular country. Add socialism to the mix, and Religion dies. The dwindling Church attendance, and the attitudes toward Christianity and religion in the secular, socialist democracy European countries all prove my point.

        I do agree with you that the “freedoms enshrined in the United States focus on the right to be left alone,” but then we part ways. You feel that government controlled health care, as embodied in the ACA is a good thing, and that it does not infringe on
        individual rights or religious freedom, and that homosexuals do have “a right” to marry, and this also does not infringe on individual rights or religious liberty, and that both are merely examples of the government stepping in to fix problems. I think I refuted these your contentions in my first reply, so I will not go into this again. But I will add one more thought in regard to the moral aspects of both issues: open mindedness taken to the extreme becomes moral blindness.

        Now, in regard to your reply to my comments, no, I do not
        think that a government should only provide “national defense and interstate commerce regulation,” and, yes, we do agree that man-made rights are judgment calls. However, I disagree with your
        position that the ACA is a good thing, for all the reasons I stated in my comments. Also, while the general public does want universal health care, it does not want the ACA. In 2010 only 39% of Americans were in favor of the ACA. Today only 26% of Americans support the ACA, according to the most recent AP poll.

        I also have to take issue with your statement that a military for national defense (and a police force) is a God-given right. It is not.
        National defense is a basic function of a government. Our God-given rights are a different matter altogether. Legitimate functions of government are defined by the society that creates the government. Governments are instituted to protect our God-given
        rights, but all too often, governments end up creating new man-made rights that are shown over time to be more harmful than beneficial, both economically and socially.

        In your reply to my comments you also try to bolster your
        argument that the ACA is good, saying that the policy that became the ACA “was originally developed by the conservative libertarian Heritage Foundation,” adopted my Romney, etc., and that it is “a moderate, relatively weak solution, designed by conservatives.” This is not correct. A “concept” for universal healthcare was
        indeed put forward by Heritage, but the approach they suggested was discarded by the ACA’s developers. Massachusetts
        health care is also quite different than the ACA, and the MA contraception mandate law actually predates Romney’s health care law.

        You also say, “ . . . you are not paying for contraception, you are paying for an insurance plan that covers contraception for others. That is NOT a meaningless distinction. It’s a distinction the
        Catholic Church has been OK with at the state level for decades until its recent decision to wage war against the Obama Administration over this . . .” Again, this is not correct. If I pay for a plan that provides free contraception, I am paying for contraception whether I use it or not. How am I not paying for contraception when it is included in my plan!? What’s more, my
        premium is being pooled with everyone else’s to pay for the free contraception for everyone else, so I am paying for contraception for every subscriber! Also, you keep ignoring the fact that
        arbotifiacients are included in all plans now. And no, the Catholic Church has not “been OK,” with contraception at a state level for decades. It does support the concept of universal health care, but it has never approved of or supported contraception. Going along with something because you have no choice, knowing you are powerless to change it, does not constitute approval.

        Also, (back to the homosexual marriage issue) you say, “No
        one is forcing you to change your belief of what a marriage is. This is exactly the point. A positive liberty for homosexuals — the freedom to marry — conflicts with nothing on the other side.”
        I disagree. Societal ramifications aside, throughout history, marriage has been defined as the union of a man and a woman. Even in early pagan religions a marriage was presided over by a priest and ‘blessed’ by the gods. Natural law, which is the basis for civil law, says marriage is the union of a man and a woman. All of the major Christian religions, as well as the Muslim religion, define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In the Catholic Church and in most of the Protestant Churches, marriage is a Sacrament, a sacred covenant, something that is much
        more than just a legal commitment. And I, as well as hundreds of millions of others, grew up “believing” that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. And now along come the radical LGBT folk saying, ‘no, you are wrong! Marriage can be between any two people.’ How is this not trying to get me to change “my belief” of what marriage is? Additionally, why is a Civil Union not an
        acceptable compromise to the radical LGBT crowd? Let’s be very candid here, the attempt to redefine marriage is what it is – an attack on religion, on the sanctity of marriage, and on the traditional family unit. If it was not, the Civil Union compromise would be acceptable and this would no longer be an issue.

        And, one final point regarding health care. I have read the entire ACA bill. It is not “conservative” by any stretch of the imagination. The bill was clearly written to pave the way for a single-payer system and complete government control of health care – socialized medicine. I do not have a problem with everyone having access to good, affordable health care, but the ACA is not a good, effective solution to rising health care costs, or to providing
        health care to the poor. And apparently the poor don’t much like it since on1 million of those 40 million uninsured have signed up or it. The ACA is nothing less than a government intrusion into my ability to obtain quality health care for me and my family, and it will only end up providing poor quality health care for all citizens. You should familiarize yourself with the kind of health care the governments provide in Canada, Italy, Great Britain, etc. It is terrible. Had the government adopted the Heritage plan we would be much better off. And, by the way, you are probably too young to remember when doctors routinely made house calls, and only people who worked for the really big corporations had health
        care insurance. Then LBJ got Medicare/Medicaid passed and health care suddenly became “big business.” The idea of providing health care for the elderly was good, but the execution, as we now know, hasn’t worked out so well. Governments can only do certain things well. Health care is not one of them.

        The bottom line here is that I am all for ‘live and let live,’ but the ACA is a garbage law that should never have been passed, and I
        should not be forced to pay for someone else to have free contraception or abortifacients. Homosexuals should absolutely have all the same legal rights and protections as the rest of us have, and if two homosexuals want to enter into a legal, long term commitment to each other, a Civil Union offers them that
        opportunity. The Sacrament of Marriage does not have to be redefined according to their liking to enable this. And you still have not made your case that that religious freedom in America is not threatened.

        • Pixie5

          I wish people who want to debate would actually take the time to research first. One reason Civil Unions are not acceptable to gays is that it DOES NOT confer the same legal rights as marriage does. This is no big secret so you have not done your homework.

          There are medical reasons for covering birth control that I have detailed in a post above. It isn’t always used just for preventing pregnancy. And as I said above, it can be life-threatening for some women to become pregnant thus tying their tubes is a reasonable precaution.

          You have I assume worked or are working and most likely have paid for insurance that covers birth control and abortion LONG BEFORE ACA.

          And please, please LEARN SOME HISTORY. We have ALWAYS been a secular nation. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom which granted freedom to ALL RELIGIONS and NO RELIGION.. One of his famous quotes: “It does me no harm for a man to say there are twenty Gods or no God at all. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

          The Treaty of Tripoli states that we are not a Christian country.

          There is no mention of Jesus in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, just a generic “God” Similar to the words “Higher Power” we use today. THIS WAS INTENTIONAL.

          The Constitution bans a religious test to qualify for office and Jefferson was our first “atheist” President. He was actually a Deist, but since he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus he was widely accused of being an atheist. And yet somehow this “heretic” became President, which WOULD NOT have happened if we did not have a secular government.

          Yes many of the Founding Fathers were Christians but they had a healthy fear of religion being a part of government, Why? Not just because of state religions in other countries, but because of the bad behavior of Christians who themselves came here for “religious freedom” Actually it was freedom for THEM AND NO ONE ELSE. The Puritans instituted the OT capital punishment laws against their own people (so you could legally murder your own child if he was disobedient) and killed Quakers. Other Christian sects imprisoned or outright killed “heretics.”

          It was not just Jefferson who distrusted religion being a part of government. This from the author of The Bill of Rights, James Madison:

          “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?”

          “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

          “We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.”

          • Gus

            Pixie5, Who told you that civil unions do not confer the same legal rights as marriage? This is not correct. A civil union works in exactly the same way as a marriage without being called ‘marriage,’ so the words marriage and matrimony do not have to be redefined.

            Regarding birth control, there is a distinction between providing birth control pills for legitimate medical reasons and providing it just so people can have worry-free sex. Your statement that contraception has always been included in health plans and businesses “never had a say in what was covered, nor did they care,” is not true. Before the ACA, health insurance was regulated by each state, and only MA, and maybe a couple others, required ‘contraception’ to be covered for free. Large corporations have always been able to negotiate coverage with insurance providers.

            As for our country always being a secular nation, once again you are incorrect. The United States is a Republic. This is a fact. If you were taught that we are a Democracy, your teachers were not being completely honest with you. And we ARE a religious country, as proven time and again by national surveys on religious beliefs. And since you’ve mentioned Madison I hope you are aware that he was a devout Episcopalian whose first contribution to American constitutional law was his defense of the free exercise of religion. The Founding Fathers did not fear religion because of the bad behavior of Christians. In fact, 51 of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention were Christians — 49 were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics.

        • Pixie5

          Oh and by the way, people have been “redefining the definition of marriage” since it first began. In the OT it was as many wives (and concubines) as a man could afford. Women were property like cattle. This is confirmed by the fact that if an unmarried girl was raped, the rapist was required to pay her father, or rather “owner” money and marry her, If however she was married the rapist was put to death for “stealing” her from her husband.

          Marriages were usually arranged and usually at the stage of puberty,12 or 13 years of age.

          They also had the legal requirement that if a woman’s husband died that her brother-in-law was required to marry her and provided children for his dead brother.

          Eventually in Western culture we came to the “one man, one woman” definition. But there were still arranged marriages and they married young. That is true for MOST of Christian history.The idea of EITHER PARTY having a say in the matter is fairly new.

          Also I believe that having the state involved in marriage is fairly new also.

          So the definition of marriage has changed radically over the years. Today arranged.marriages, polygamy and child marriages are illegal.

          We also have another redefinition of marriage that happened recently. Inter-racial marriage. I am certain that many people thought it was an atrocity to change the definition of marriage that had existed for centuries, In fact 20% of the population STILL BELIEVES that inter-racial marriage should be illegal.

          But even ignoring all that the biggest problem with your argument is that NO ONE IS CHANGING YOUR DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE. Absolutely NO ONE! You in fact are guarenteed by the Constitution to disapprove ALL YOU WANT. But you can’t stop people from exercising THEIR RELIGOUS FREEDOM. Because this is not about YOUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, it is about the GAY COUPLE’S RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Their freedom to BELIEVE and ACT DIFFERENTLY from you.

          Giving someone else religious freedom is the same as having your own religious freedom. This concept is what our country is founded on. So STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THE DEFINTION OF “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.”

          • Gus

            Pixie5, In every instance you mention, marriage is between male and female, regardless of age or race, or whether the marriage is arranged or not. Even in a polygamist marriage, man is marrying woman, or in this instance more than one women (the women are not marrying each other, only the man). So people have NOT been ‘redefining the definition of marriage since it first began.’ It is and always has been a union between male and female. All of your “examples” only prove my point.
            Regarding your statements about religious freedom, I’m not real sure how you came to the conclusion that I’m trying to redefine “religious freedom.” Mr. Fox Rose’s essay is one of 10 essays addressing the question ‘is religious under attack?’ All I am saying is that I don’t think he proved his premise that it is not.

    • Well said. I am sure it falls on deaf ears. Because the end justifies the means.

  • Animal

    Very well thought out and succinctly captures what I too think about the current state of religious freedom in America. For much of its existence the American republic has been ruled by Christians, along with a minority of Deists and Agnostics perhaps. Much to its detriment, Christianity has had an amazing reach of power in the US, emanating both from the pulpit and in politics. As a result, Christianity is no longer a ragtag band of followers of a risen King transforming the world, but it has become an institution of dogmatic moralism exerting its power over others muck like Calvin’s Christianity in 16th-century Geneva.

    So, I too am personally glad that Christianity is losing its empirical power, slowly being relegated into the trenches of day-to-day life where it will likely struggle to have a significant voice someday. Why? Because as history has proven, the Christian faith becomes a beacon of light, a city on a hill, and most effective when it faces true persecution (i.e. suffering, oppression) and lacks state and civil authority. This is the Christianity of the pre-Constantinian early church. And, also a time when the church thrived.

    The day when Christians in America are stripped of their basic civil rights, facing genocide, and cast to the trash heap of society, only then can we rightfully claim persecution.

    Until then…

    “We dishonor the memory of the millions of Christians who have suffered very real persecution through the centuries when we confuse a lack of privileged status with persecution.” (Rachel Held Evans)

    • k_Lutz

      I like your points of Christ-likeness being most effective when it is not embroiled in the state.

      And was specially mused by the effect of the typo here:
      it has become an institution of dogmatic moralism exerting its power over others muck like Calvin’s Christianity …

      Trust God.

      • Animal

        For the first time in my blogosphere history, I am actually glad a typo of mine was pointed out. I think I’ll leave it. Thanks. 😉

  • Wendy Claire Barrie

    I might go as far as to say that religious freedom has itself become a threat, if more laws like this take effect: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/1-tennessee-passes-bill-allowing-lgbt-students-to-be-bullied-in-the-name-of-religious-freedom/news/2014/03/25/84801

    • Pixie5

      They are supposed to teach the 3 R’s: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmatic, not the fourth R..Religion.
      I guess not growing up when there was prayer and bible reading in the schools I can’t understand why this should be a problem. That is what Sunday School is for.

  • Ambaa

    I’ll tell you whose religious freedom might be threatened: those of us who aren’t Christian!

    http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u264/sponto/Fora/2014/idt20050418bigotry_zps52f1bd18.gif

    • Pixie5

      Hi Ambaa!

      LOL!

      Take a look at my post above…Some of it is repetitive from what I posted to you but I think you will appreciate the quotes.

  • Christianity is threatened in America.