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During the past year, The Obama administration has been subjected to strenuous criticism for its perceived hostility, or at best cavalier indifference, to the cause of religious freedom in the United States.

First there was the Supreme Court's decision ...

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Displaying 1–29 of 29 comments

Jim Gustafson

November 30, 2012  3:26pm

Well said, Jon Trott. I like the difference between "the religion of most Americans" and "the religion of Jesus Christ." But then, biblical Christianity is NOT the religion of most Americans, even if most Americans think it is. The true religion of most Americans is moralistic therapeutic individualistic civic monotheism.

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Jon Trott

November 28, 2012  4:58pm

Jim Gustafson, I'm doubtful I'm the one who ought to try this, so here's just a nickel's worth (if I can muster that much) on your question in this comment thread's first post. Re replacing "Christian" with "Muslim" and then reconsidering the theme of the article.... yes, that's one reason why I can't sing harmony with the article's apparent conclusions. Freedom of Religion in America seems to me to be about allowing all religious faiths to express their faith, to exist as communities with common values, and to whatever degree they wish to be involved within the political process. The latter requires parameters that safeguard the public sphere from being controlled by any one religion (or irreligion). But our problem as Christians is how to give up being "the religion of most Americans" in favor of being "the religion of Jesus Christ." I think God would approve if we can pull it off.

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J Thomas

November 26, 2012  2:08pm

Wayne, Isaiah didn't hate his people. The over-sensitivity to criticism of this generation is not of God, it is of this culture. Christians need to turn inward and start turning to God within their churches and communities. The secularist tentacles are deep set. We should not be afraid of pruning so that the tree can grow stronger rather than letting the dead branches kill the whole thing.

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Pop Seal

November 25, 2012  10:46pm

We Christains need to move to a more aggressive level of PEACEFUL RESISTANCE to the secularist take over of the legal system. Our heritage is now slandered openly and our faith is savaged. Several years ago I wrote to the judge when i was called to JURY DUTY. it was a polite and nonpersonal pointing out of how we are already dismissed by SCOTUS rulings and therefore Christians have no place in a system that insults us at every turn. I was released from duty.........twice. I haven't received a notice in five years.

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Wayne Froese

November 25, 2012  9:32pm

The only place where I am a leftist is at CT ;-). I don't expect entrenched bigotry to leave the church easily. Jim G, you are spot on. Should we therefore ban the Muslim from our society? Trick question! It is as much their society as ours. J Thomas,if you hate others so much, how can you minister to them? It sounds like you want to use the rod on us.

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J Thomas

November 25, 2012  4:56pm

Modern leftist Christianity suffers from terminal self-loathing. They have been so infatuated with public perception that they have become obsessed, like teenagers, with rebellion against their "parent" church culture. They have become reliant on information from leftist culture rather than from the greater Christian culture. Their allegiance is to the left, not to the greater church. They want a leftist church rather than an ideologically diverse church. For that to happen, they have to have the government unseat the traditional church, and it doesn't matter to them if the government has to violate the 2nd amendment to do it. Wisdom should show them where that path leads, but they are so blinded by their political agenda that they refuse to see that they themselves are soon to be walked down that path because the people they are throwing their lot in with could care less about their right to worship. Lambs led to the slaughter...taking everyone else with them.

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Jim Gustafson

November 25, 2012  3:42pm

No one has addressed my questions, presented in the very first post. Why?

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JOHN TURNER

November 25, 2012  2:39pm

The article is very nicely done. It seems to me that the underlying questions are: (1) whether a religious institution (education, health care, etc., has the right to ask that its employees as a condition of their employment abide by certain standards on matters of faith and morality. It seems that the Supreme Court has answered that it does. (2) whether such an institution has the right to be given an exemption from providing mandated government services to its employees when those services violate the faith and moral standards of the founding body, even if employees have not been required to assent to the standards. Religious freedom would be substantially diminished and the social contributions of religious organizations would be greatly reduced if the institutions benevolent resources could be used in ways counter to its own beliefs and values. Therefore it would be against the public interest for the institution to be forced to violate long-established beliefs and values.

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Wayne Froese

November 25, 2012  11:57am

Note that the culture of Christmas as simply the buying holiday is not a problem; here the problem is a shrinkage of Christian privileges http://youtu.be/UqGXmTWIQCk -- A public government display is not the meaning of Christmas. We must choose our gospel message. Should our good news be control the government and promote our faith and persecute others?

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Hugh (Bart) Vincelette

November 25, 2012  10:09am

The problems involved are reflected in the constant disparaging of "leftist" or "liberal" thinking. How uninformed can one get? Liberal thinking brought about the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Conservatives would never have included freedom of religion for all faiths. This is exemplified from the earliest days of America. The Pilgrims, of Plymouth Rock fame, did indeed flee Britain seeking the freedom to practice their beliefs unhindered. And, they found that freedom, in Holland. But they also found freedom of religion for all faiths, & there weren't about to tolerate that. So, they headed for the New World (to the detriment of the first nations people who had been here for thousands of years.) There is no war on religion, or religious liberty. That is patently false. But the most fervently faithful refuse to accept that freedom of religion does not include the right to deny, diminish, or eliminate; the rights of others.

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Wayne Froese

November 25, 2012  9:03am

J Thomas, none of what I described is persecution. The alternative descriptions were the real persecution. You missed it entirely.

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Hugh (Bart) Vincelette

November 25, 2012  6:07am

Rarely does one hear of the realities surrounding many of the original immigrants to America. The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock fame are a good example. They did indeed flee Britain seeking the freedom to practice their beliefs free of persecution by the Church of England. And, they found this 'freedom' in Holland. But also finding freedom of religion for all faiths; which they wouldn't tolerate; they headed for the New World, which turned out to be disastrous for the people already here. There's no such animal as "Christian principles". It depends entirely on the denomination (brand) of Christianity involved. 'Biblical marriage' is a good example. The most common reference to marriage in the Bible is by far; to polygamy. Benjamin Franklin said "Windmills are more useful than churches." Thomas Jefferson said "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government."

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J Thomas

November 24, 2012  11:05pm

Wayne, Christ provides us with a means to be content even in persecution. However, we shouldn't confuse that with instructions to become bystanders to the mass rejection of Christ and the political marginalization of Christians. My forefathers came to this country in the 1600's seeking the freedom to worship God apart from an oppressive government who mandated what was and wasn't acceptable in worship. My forefathers left an incredible gift, based in the grace of God through Christ, not only to our country but to every country who saw the example of what Christians did in America and tried to some degree to replicate it. God opened those doors for his word to flourish and go forth. We are closing them. We are asking judgment on ourselves by putting our trust in bureaucrats rather than in God. It was bureaucrats who crucified Christ, because his works challenged the peace of the day. We are to imitate Christ, not bureaucrats.

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Wayne Froese

November 24, 2012  8:52pm

J Thomas, the far leftists cannot grant you the permission to restrict health care options to your employees, you must content yourself with obeying your own conscience on your actions and let others follow theirs. Content yourself with praying at government meetings but not in your official role and not as an official part of government practice. Content yourself with writing the words of Jesus on your heart but not on the walls of our courthouses. Content yourself with making your marriage reflect a holy union but do not impose your marriage requirements on others. This is the constitution of our great land. I can assure you that if you wish to force others to do your will, you are not being hated for Jesus' sake. (That being hated thing isn't a requirement or badge or confirmation of righteousness. )

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Wayne Froese

November 24, 2012  8:21pm

J Thomas, you misread Charles. He wasn't apologizing for the faith, he apologized for the actions of members of the Church. If you can't see real pain and suffering caused or ignored by Christians, then you should know that is called denial and is a further insult to those we harmed.

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Helmut Egesa Wagabi

November 24, 2012  3:58am

Faith in God is the only thing that makes life sensible. When left to ourselves, we can only think about destroying others around us.

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J Thomas

November 23, 2012  5:32pm

There should be no hope among Christians that the worship of Christ will make us popular in any society, much less the corrupt and increasingly sinful American culture at large. This place is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christians, driven by animosity fueled by Hollywood and the mainstream media. Christ told us that he is hated in the world, and that if we follow him we will be hated too. This is our reality. Thank God that our founders established a country where that hatred would not be endorsed by the state. Pray that the neoprogressives are not successful in their continued campaign to stifle the freedom of worship from every angle they can imagine.

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J Thomas

November 23, 2012  5:25pm

Charles, if you think that apologizing continually and profusely for your faith to people who could care less about your faith is going to change the reality that the Gospel will always be shunned by a world corrupted by Satan, then you may need to take a second and think about your position.

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Charles Stearns

November 23, 2012  1:56pm

If we as believers did not waste such a great deal of time proclaiming our religious freedom, if we as believers treated unbelievers like we would like to be treated, if we as believers spent more time lifting up Jesus instead of delighting in the chance to oppose others different than us, I believe argument would take an arrow to the heart.

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J Thomas

November 23, 2012  11:57am

The United States have established the freedom of worship in our constitution. It guarantees us the right, at the very minimum, to worship the god we choose in the way we are convicted to worship. We know that in their letters, the framers wanted much more than this and believed that American government couldn't work without the morality prescribed by a more specific God. So, to legally challenge the protected status of religion is to either abolish or amend the constitution. There is no other way. So to all the far leftists out there who hate their brethren on the 'right' more than they wish to compromise with them and allow them a persecution-free lifestyle...you need to take that route. You need to amend or abolish the constitution. If you do that, you realize that you are asking for an incredible fight, possibly a war...which was exactly why the 2nd amendment exists anyway, to prevent war among the religious. Maybe we should think twice about where our allegiances are.

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robert puharic

November 23, 2012  11:40am

Let me offer a dissenting view. The issue is not religious freedom. It's about allowing the already rich and powerful to further restrict the rights of employees to run their own lives. Right now the only way employees get health insurance is from employers. As long as that's the case, employers are going to have to live by certain rules, among them is the fact this is a financial transaction facing restrictions. Churches have never stood up for American workers. And this is just another example. American churches, conservative to the core, have always sided with employers over employees. Richard Posner has noted that American Christians are sex obsessed. And it's tragic that the only positions churches seem willing to take positions on are those regarding sex. With millions unemployed, millions without healthcare, churches defend the powerful against the powerless. Which is one reason young people are leaving.

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Phillip C Smith

November 23, 2012  10:01am

As a believing, active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a social scientist (Ph.D. - Stanford University) let me commend those in other religious communities who support religious freedom. Such freedom is more than simply going to religious services. It extends to the way we live our private lives and the values we seek to foster in the work environments we work in. There are more than enough secular venues where individuals can obtain health assistance they want which contravenes our values. We need, is well, to make sure that public education venues do not promote values in conflict with those of the various religions. I worry about the content of some sex education programs, those that foster, for example, sexual relations outside of marriage. Thank you again for supporting religious freedom. I hope we can work together across religion boundaries, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other.

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Wayne Froese

November 21, 2012  11:50pm

Thank you Eugene. As crazy as it is for employers to get involved in paying for health care, it is worse to imagine an employer second guessing my doctor. Jim, Jack, Jon, I appreciate your sane words. ---- Heath, I think you had some words about sin but you missed important points: "all have sinned" and "there is none that's righteous". But wouldn't that all be true no matter if we were for or against Christian privilege in society? How does your point apply? Honestly, all the sins you mentioned are sex related. Did you notice that about yourself? You are obsessed with the sexual sins of others when there are so many types of sins to talk about. That seems unhealthy, spiritually or otherwise. Anyway, you've convinced me that I don't want sinful man or the powerful religious institution of the day forcing their spirituality on anyone. We can survive just fine without government religion - that isn't the same as not having faith.

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Eugene Wiese

November 21, 2012  9:31pm

As usual this article emphasizes the place of the established church in the person's life; but religion is not only a corporate function; it is basically an individual's relation to God. Corporate religion is only an outgrowth of that individual and personal relationship. The corporate function is only to assist the individual to establish and encourage that personal relationship. The corporate function must follow the laws of this nation in all areas where that obedience does not hinder my personal relationship. Objections to the laws should only be given where the law is contrary to the individual's relationship with God. The church does not speak for me; I speak for the corporate function when I feel it is necessary to maintain my relationship to God. Requiring the corporate function to offer a service does not require the individual to use that service. Hence, no problem exists.

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Citizen Anon

November 21, 2012  3:35pm

Interesting juxtaposition with "Shari'ah's Uphill Climb -- Does Muslim law have a place in the American landscape?" How do we reconcile the two?

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Heath Wells

November 21, 2012  2:27pm

Sin is the issue! Christ died for ALL of OUR sins. To suggest that any sin (including homosexuality) is not a sin, is a sin in itself. Sin is not weighed on the fact that society wants to accept it or deny it, it is weighed on the fact that God deemed it a sin just like ALL sexual immorality. Argue and disagree all you want, but God will not tolerate SIN. If you do not have Jesus Christ to stand for you, you will have to face God the same way the devil and his demons will face him, without a representative that can protect you from judgment. People who involve themselves and participate in abortions, homosexuality, sexual immorality, and do not acknowledge Jesus will NOT be accepted by the one who died for all of man's sins.

Jon Trott

November 21, 2012  12:37pm

Any comment here to this long, thoughtful article will be reductionist. That said, let me reduce. ;-) Civil Religion... is it a friend or foe to Christianity? Frankly, I've always viewed it as more foe than friend. Christianity "wins" because it is "useful" as a "social glue." Even as a teenager and then-agnostic, I was sad for Christians who used such arguments. "Is that all you have?" I keep waiting for Evangelical White Christians to apologize, frankly, to say "I'm sorry for our hateful and politically-self-centered usage of both select Biblical verses and Christianity as a whole." Until white Evangelicals confess -- and keep confessing! -- their own abysmal failures racially and socially in this nation and through it elsewhere, I don't think any "5 Points" will convince anyone not already convinced. I'm a believer since 1977. And I'm not convinced at all.

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Jack Ratekin

November 21, 2012  10:46am

I chuckle whenever special circumstances for religious institutions are justified by noting that money has the word "God" on it. Five dollar bills also have the word "Lincoln" printed on them. Does that mean the capitol of Nebraska should be treated differently? As an aside, I remember being in grade school when they added "Under God" to the pledge of allegiance. We had to practice several times so we would recite it correctly with the new phrase. We were singled out and punished when we flubbed it.

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Jim Gustafson

November 21, 2012  9:50am

I read this article with interest, and found myself nodding in agreement often. Then I read it again: but this time, wherever I saw "church", I substituted "mosque", wherever "faith" I substituted "Islam", wherever "minister/pastor/clergy" I substituted "imam/mullah", and so on. I did not nod in agreement. What does this say about what I think, what we all think, freedom of religion in America really is, how it is really practiced, and who it is really for?

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