It is sometimes difficult to gauge religious freedom, especially balancing it against other freedoms.
And as the convulsions around the Islamic world illustrate, some people define religious freedom differently from Westerners (i.e., the freedom NOT to have one's religion, prophets, or holy books denigrated in any way!)
But religious freedom / tolerance was the key theme of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Lebanon. The Pope not only addressed Maronite Catholics and other Christians, but representatives of the three branches of Islam in Lebanon (Sunni, Shi'ite, Alawite) and the Druze.
Not that it got a lot of attention here in the U.S., but the Papal Visit to Lebanon offered a stark contrast to the Middle-East violence which continually inhabits our TV screens. Instead, we saw images of Christian/Muslim convergence in celebrating the spiritual against the secular world.
Islamic clergy and ordinary believers attended nearly every one of Pope Benedict's events. Incredibly, Hezbollah displayed banners welcoming the Pope.
Against this, the PEW FORUM put out a new analysis suggesting religious freedom is in jeopardy in wide swaths of the globe.
Restrictions on religious practice grew in each of the five major regions of the world.
37% of nations have high or very high restrictions on religion, a six-point increase from 31% just a year ago.
Three quarters of the global population of about 7 Billion - translating to 5-and-a-quarter Billion people - inhabit nations with high or very high restrictions on religious practice.
And yes, the United States was one of the countries in which PEW found restrictions on religion, with the U.S. score jumping more than a point. PEW didn't cite the battle between the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration over insurance coverage, but other developments: Zoning conflicts confronting houses of worship; new restrictions in prison systems on religious practice; a Tennessee town's efforts to ban construction of a mosque under the pretext that Islam is an ideology rather than a religion; and state legislative attempts to ban Sharia law.
(As I said, people differ on defining religious "freedom".)
John Allen - who covered Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon - writes about all this in NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER on line. You can hear my interview with John Allen (also a CNN & NPR Vatican analyst), who is widely regarded as the top "Vaticanologist" among journalists in the English-speaking world...
Let's just settle the score right here. The United States of America was founded upon Christianity, not as a state religion, but as our established way of life. If we allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to be subordinated to all these foreign intruders in the name of "tolerance", then it's bye-bye Miss American Pie!
If certain people don't like the fact that we don't want Sharia Law, which is a law that not only FORCES radical Islam on ALL citizens, as well as permits murder, then they should be deported to a country that practices what they like, and there are plenty of such countries around the world, particularly in the Middle-East.
To anybody who wants to come into my house and tell me what religion I have to practice, I have a message. Get out of my house, and go somewhere else where you're welcome!
Tue, Sep 25, 2012 9:58pm
Amen brotherpizza! For me and my family there is only Jesus Christ. True Christianity is forced by none, and only gained through grace by God.
Happy Yom Kippur and peace to you.
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Sep 25, 2012 10:30pm
Mrpizza and EarlGrey, well said. It's one thing for Muslims to come here to live and practice their faith without forcing others to practice their faith; it's something else when they want to institute Sharia Law to take over American Law and force their will, their beliefs, and their religion on others.
Also the PEW folks missed how Christians in the US are losing the freedom to express their views in society (think Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-a).
Tue, Sep 25, 2012 11:47pm
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 9:48am
Here's another example of our religious beliefs being trampled on by LIB/DEMS; in NYC they are now giving the Morning-After Pill to 12-year-old girls in NYC public schools WITHOUT parental permission...
Mike, that is bad but I believe it's going to get much worse.
The rest of the world does not like our First Amendment right and the UN would like to restrict it...
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)has been working to persuade the United States to subvert our first amendment to an agenda more inline with principles of Islam.
( yet another link to breitbart)http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/09/25/Islamic-States-Free-Speech-Code
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 2:48pm
Excellent comments. Isn't there a way to get these comments into the mainstream so that everyone can realize what's happening. My biggest fear of another Obama victory in November is that we will methodically forfeit our rights including freedom of religion so that we will blend in with the rest of the world. I think he will be unstoppable. Should we extinguish the light on the Statue of Liberty?
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 3:36pm
Interesting article EarlGrey from Slate.
Funny how Liberals were all about free speech, the 1st Amendment back in the 60's and 70's, and today it's the conservatives who are worried about free speech in America. The group that is most worried about free speech in America seems to be the group holding the views, ideas, and beliefs that are NOT considered to be the mainstream of America. The Civil Rights Movement of the 60's, certainly the Black community, wasn't getting the same First Amendment protection enjoyed by the rest of American society. In the later 60's and into the 70's, the "Hippie Movement" was on the outside and felt its 1st Amendment rights were being violated. Today, white males and Christians seem to be the group that cannot openly express their views and values as the Political Correctness thing kicked in 1980's. and is still in force today (the article even made mention of this). So what does that tell us? That our society has flipped 180 degrees from where it was back in the 1970's. Today, the LGBT, anti-God especially anti-Christian, no morals, etc., are considered to be the mainstream of American society.
Our society is in a great deal of trouble, as for the most part, we've walked away from those Judeo/Christian values that this country was founded on (I didn't say this was a Christian nation), but those values, morals, and ethics, and yes, the lack of any sort of "state religion", etc., are what made this nation what it was. Today we do have a "state religion"... it's called Political Correctness. It is providing the 21st-century version of the Inquisition to America, minus the chains and torture that were a major part of the Inquisition of the Dark Ages.
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 4:32pm
I once again vehemently disagree with Mr. Pizza. I do not believe this country was founded as a Christian nation. A MORAL nation, yes, but that doesn't automatically associate us with Christian ideas and dogma. There's a lot from America's past that ISN'T Christian-based.
You say it's not a state religion. But by preferring Christian values, you automatically rate other values lower, thus making them second-class. That is the complete opposite of what the Founding Fathers wanted.
We can have a moral country, a moral government, without it preferring a specific religion. Even as a Catholic, that's the America I believe in and want.
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 4:39pm
I had to chuckle that someone out there thinks "our society is in a great deal of trouble."
Probably because it is...
Believe it or not, there are people out there who don't accept that white man is the boss. There are people out there who don't accept they have to pay respect to him for two reasons: because he is old, and because he is white.
They look at their life and say, why do we have to be second class citizens because "they" say so? Why do we have to be the scum of society because "they" say we are? Isn't this America? Doesn't "THEIR" Constitution say we are free, we can write our own destiny? We can vote for whom we want, and for what makes us have a happier and more prosperous life? Isn't that what America was supposed to be all about? Not, support what "they" think, simply because they anointed themselves to be the disperser of all wisdom?
The reason "your" society is in a great deal of trouble, guys,... is because it is wrong... It is based on false principals, false reasoning, and false hopes... And the reason it is wrong is because you always lose the argument whenever you try to defend it......
Our society is so much better now than when I was growing up. There is so much more opportunity and equality. There is so much life in every moment. There are so many different ethnicities to make our lives interesting....
Sure, you can put your hands on your ears and go "la, la, la, I hear nothing..." And in doing so, you might think you are winning the argument because you never hear the rebuttals being made against it... But rest assured, everyone else out there sees you looking silly, and is dismissing you as being ranting old white men. .... ...
Because you probably can't see it. The world is changing... And here is what is funny. It changed a generation ago and you are now just realizing it. And know what? It changed again a generation before that, and again, a generation before that, and again, a generation before that....all the way back till America began. In fact it is pretty indicative that every old man looks back on his youth and says,, "my, things were nicer then"... What they don't realize is that if you were a slave, a woman, an American Indian, a Mexican, an Irishman, a Polish descendant, an Italian, a Greek, a German, a Scot-Irish, .... at one point, life was pretty bad in your shoes... But as someone else came in on the bottom, you got bumped up...
The point I'm making is:... if you sit and say this nation is going to the dogs, and I'm voting for Romney because he is white, all you are doing is making a protest vote.....
Far better to say, well if that is the way it is going to be, then I'd better start getting my religion out to these people so they can see, I'm not just full of poppycock...
What you fail to realize as your world collapses upon you, and you reassure yourselves that your are smart and they are not, ... is that they are smart too. If you really want your generation to make a positive commitment, then go out into "their" world and make a difference....
That is all.
Wed, Sep 26, 2012 10:34pm
Shawn: If you believe America was not founded as a Christian nation, you should change your mind once you read some of the documents in the following link:
Kavips: You said, " The point I'm making is:... if you sit and say this nation is going to the dogs, and I'm voting for Romney because he is white, all you are doing is making a protest vote....."
What in the world are you talking about? I don't recall ANYONE here ever saying they are voting for Romney because he is white. So are you voting for Obama because he's black?? I voted for Obama in 2008, but I'm not voting for him in 2012, so that makes me some sort of racist, because I'm choosing to not vote for Obama?? Give me a break. Odd thing is, there are blacks who said to the media back in 2008 that they'd never voted, but did vote for Obama, because he was black. Seems like you have a double standard my friend. Yes, I'm sure there are some whites who voted for McCain and now Romney because Obama's black, but apparently that works both ways as blacks are doing the same thing. So if its a racist thing for a white to do, it is a racist thing for a black to do. You can't have it both ways.
What's this non-sense about blacks having to be second class citizens today? Last time I checked, the black middle class is one of the fastest growing parts of our society ( per the US Census folks). The advertisers know this as quite a many of today's radio/TV spots and programming is aimed at the black community, why? because the black community today has money to spend like never before. Many in the black community today now have the American Dream that didn't exist for most blacks in 1950.
There are more black leaders in government and industry than ever before, we've got a black President who was elected NOT just by blacks as even if 100% of the black community voted for Obama, he still needs plenty of white votes to win the election, which he did in 2008.
Today blacks are working in all fields of employment that are the top professions getting top pay including medical doctors, scientists, researchers, chemists, lawyers, corporate executives, supervisors, professors (not just at black colleges either), etc, etc.
In Delaware white and black kids all go to the same public schools, so at least in Delaware, black kids have the same education opportunity as white kids. Blacks can go to any college or university they choose (there's the SEED program in Delaware for all kids who get a certain grade average in high school that makes college about 95% free) plus other programs to help with the cost of college, so the educational opportunities are there if the person black or white chooses to take advantage of it which many blacks have been doing since the 1970's when many of those opportunities became available and it has paid off and created this large group of black middle class Americans.
Something else for you to consider, YES some whites wanted to keep the blacks down back in the 1950's and 60's (as a teenager, I remember seeing blacks being sprayed by fire hoses by Southern police in Mississippi on Walter Cronkite's nightly TV newscast and having German Shepherds attacking these folks for having a parade and caring signs - very graphic, scary, and evil stuff), so yes there was plenty of evil going on in America by some of the white people in America.
BUT IF it hadn't been for those other whites who had watched all this on TV and then called their Congress folks and demanded this be stopped, etc, and the whites who actually had the power and could have easily left things as they were(maybe why the Kennedy brothers[JFK and RFK] were assassinated in 1963 and 1968 respectively, because they chose to change America for the better. These white folks saw the truth in what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said during his years as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and MADE real changes to our laws to give the black community what they should have had all along. But make no mistake about it, it was white's who changed those laws that gave the blacks the freedoms, etc, they enjoy today.
What I'm saying doesn't excuse what happened prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (its truly amazing how evil some folks can be), but again if it hadn't been for white folks who fought for those changes, those changes wouldn't happened then, maybe not even now, so those white folks did make a real difference in the life of the black community, so as blacks like to reminisce about the bad times, they should also not forget those white folks who stuck their necks out to put a stop to that evil.
Sorry about the rant, but I had to set the record straight.
Thu, Sep 27, 2012 4:41am
And to add to that, a number of white people in the South who stood up for the rights of blacks were murdered for it. Let's don't forget their sacrifices as well.
Thu, Sep 27, 2012 7:36pm
I did read what was on the wall and Mr. Pizza, I have to agree with Sean. The US was not founded as a Christian nation. What that wall shows, it that the US had believers who were elected to representative offices, but even they, all thought religion should not be wedded to the government.
Now that doesn't preclude some people thought they were helping by combining the two. Looking back through historical records without proper context can be misleading.
For example, if someone in the next century was trying to say America today was a religious theocracy, and pulled the minutes of the Sussex County Council to show the Lord's Prayer being used, their conclusion would be laughable. Just as yours is by showing that Thanksgiving was proclamated, thereby the entire government was founded on religious principals.
The argument follows: "what" religious principals. There were many who were NOT fundamentalist Christian. In fact, when John Adams, who was involved in both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and was the second most respected man in the US behind George Washington, had the Senate confirm a treaty with the Barbary Pirates, these words were inserted..... The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
So there you have it. From one of the founding fathers himself.... "THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS NOT, IN ANY SENSE, FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION."
I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of black and white relations. However the point I made was not addressed. The point, if I remember correctly was to question why all the "good" whites matriculated to the Democratic Party, and why all the "bad" whites became Republicans.
History tells me it was because a Democrat, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the thirty sixth president of the United States of America, a Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act.
Thu, Sep 27, 2012 9:15pm
Shawn & Kavips: You can deny America's Christian heritage all you want, but that doesn't make it not true.
Mike from Delaware
Thu, Sep 27, 2012 10:51pm
Kavips: I believe when many of the working class Democrats became Republicans was in 1980 when Reagan was running for Prez. That is why they are called Reagan Democrats. That's when the South went from blue states to red states.
I think if you think about it a bit, you'll agree that not all whites who are DEMS are good whites any more than all GOP whites are bad whites. That would be like a Republican saying that all DEM blacks are bad and all GOP blacks are good (I realize that many DEM blacks probably think of GOP blacks as an "Oreo Cookie" - black on the outside and white on the inside). Aren't black people supposed to be individuals just as white folks are. So because there are blacks who have a Republican slant to their view point, aren't they just as entitled to their beliefs as both being Black AND being an American as all the liberal DEMS who are black?
My point is, your political party affiliation doesn't determine if you're a good person or not. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, its the character of the person, not their color (I'll add or their party affiliation, race, gender, sexual orientation, or even religious beliefs) that determines if a person is a decent person. Remember Jesus isn't a Republican or a Democrat. Neither party is pure, holy, worshipful to God, honorable, honest, have integrity, etc.
To address this Christian Nation vs Christian Heritage thing, a major part of our laws come from the Judeao/Christian morals and ethics as MOST of the people living in America back in the 1700's were some form of Christian or Jewish. Yes, this nation wasn't founded as a Christian nation and yes we do not have a state religion, for which I'm glad as Europe and the Middle East both graphically demonstrate that religions be they Christian, Jewish, OR Muslim make a real mess of running a government.
So yes our Founding Fathers were wise indeed to have created a "secular" government, but its laws/ethics were heavily influenced by the Judao/Christian ethics and morals/teachings from the Bible, it is what it is. That's why most court houses have the 10 Commandments posted (some for over 200 years until the last 10 years when Atheists went to court and have been getting them removed). Funny no one had a problem with those words until just about 10 years ago. Tell me again, that there's not "agenda" by the anti-Christian factions that seem to gravitate towards the DEM party of the 21st Century. Which is why most Christians are NOT DEMS today. We are NOT welcome in the so called "Big Tent" of today's DEM party.
Tue, Oct 2, 2012 5:15pm
This is a slightly different thread, but this is rather interesting. The far-right Jewish conservative element, which can be translated into.. "don't give the land we stole back" element, is now attacking Christian Churches in Israel itself.
Christians are getting hit by Hezbollah and the radical element of the Muslim religion, as well as now, facing the ire of the radical-right Jewish extremists who built on occupied land, and want to keep their investments....
Just thought I post it here because there appears to be a lot of AIPAC interest attended to these threads. As I said before, Israel is not to be trusted until it can negotiate with Arabs on where to draw the boundaries.
They want the West to mark a red line on where we will blow up Iran nuclear development. We have been pressing them on a red line for 45 years on where they will stop building settlements.
They still dodge that issue. Where is our Red Line, Benjamin Netanyahu?
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