Religious Freedom

Religious multiplicity is a function of politics and power, not faith.  There was once a point in time when, if you were Christian, you were Catholic. The Anglican Church happened, not because Henry the Eighth had a revelation from G-d, but because he didn’t like answering to the Pope.  Martin Luther, who sparked the Reformation, did so in larger part because he objected to the politics of paying for indulgences.  Yes, there were 95 thesis, but money was the spark.  Where there is faith, there is money and an inordinate level of influence.  So of course, there is motivation to splinter some of that off of the whole to claim some of that money (through tithe) and influence (from the pulpit and new doctrine) as your own.

If you are in to someone telling you how to do about the business of faith, have at it.

So here come the Puritans, followed by the Quakers.  They start in England, a thoroughly Christian state with a state church and no separation between the dominant church and the governing state.  So Puritans, also Christian, were persecuted because what the believed was a few shades off from what the state church taught.  They jumped on the Mayflower because they wanted to practice their take on Christianity in peace.  Massachusetts to the Puritans.  Pennsylvania to the Quakers.  Maryland (eventually) to the Catholics.  When the founding fathers got around to outlining a government for the people by the people, they knew they had a lot of people who didn’t all believe the same thing, so instead of saying “we will be a government intertwined with a church,” they said “how about we just let everyone decide what church they want to go to, and keep the government out of it?”  It was a good idea.

Otherwise, who decides?  Do the Quakers get to make all the rules? What about the Baptists?  The Anabaptists?  The Catholics?  Sure, the basics are pretty much the same.  One G-d, Jesus dies for us, believe in Jesus and be saved.  But after that…  The squawking.  Like G-d has the kind of time to get worked up about angels dancing on a pin.  Well, technically, G-d has all the time in the world, by nature of being G-d, but really.  The Baptists don’t want the Anabaptists telling them they can’t dunk the saved in a body of water.  The Quakers don’t want someone to tell them they have to have an officially designated pastor.  On and on.

Because the idea of the laws of the land being aligned with a religion is only comfortable if you happen to be a member of that religion.  The Taliban was fine for anyone who happened to both agree with them and not accidentally cross them by stealing bread to keep from starving to death.  You have plenty of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia if you are Muslim.  If not, well…

So the religious freedom of the founding fathers, who were, by and large, a bunch of Deists, not a collection of Evangelicals, was basically the freedom to be left the hell alone to believe what you wanted to believe.  The cost of that freedom being that you don’t get to tell your neighbor how to believe or how to live out that faith.  That is the price of owning the territory between your ears. You don’t get to police someone else’s thoughts.

In other words, this nonsense about the founding fathers and religious freedom being about your right to discriminate is pretty much bullshit.  The point of protecting true religious freedom is about realizing that you could just as well be in the minority belief system and what protections for your faith would you like to have in place to protect yourself?  Cause you better put them in while you are on top because, if history teaches us anything, it is that all hegemonies come to an end.

The funny thing is that the Christians who are squawking about religious freedom are trying to do exactly what they don’t want done to them.  The solution? Mind your business.  When G-d comes back, he is going to ask you about you. Your neighbor will have to answer for themselves.  Your only job is you, so get to work and stop worrying about other folks.

I should add a disclaimer here… I’m not Christian. I’m not anything else either.  My faith is so personally adapted it would be ridiculous to try and talk someone else into it.  I know this language and the mentality because I grew up in it, not because I claim it for any more than the sake of argument.  I believe in compassion.  I believe in minding your business.  And I believe in being able to account for yourself to whatever higher power exists with complete ownership over exactly and only you.  And if you can do that, you shouldn’t have any need to dictate what anyone else believes or does, most certainly not the stuff that involves consenting adults on the privacy of their own home.  Social order gets its own category because some people don’t know how to act.

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Religious Freedom

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