Religious faith by its nature must be free. A coerced “faith” is no faith at all. Compulsion can cause a person to manifest the outward signs of belief or unbelief. It cannot produce the interior acts of intellect and will that constitute genuine faith.
Coercion in the cause of belief, whether religious or secular, produces not genuine conviction, but pretense and inauthenticity. It is therefore essential that religious freedom include the right to change one’s beliefs and religious affiliation. It also includes the right to witness to one’s beliefs in public as well as private, and to act—while respecting the equal right of others to do the same—on one’s religiously inspired convictions in carrying out the duties of citizenship. Religious liberty includes a heavy presumption against being coerced to act contrary to one’s sense of religious duty. This is a presumption that can be overridden only when necessary to achieve an essential public interest and when no less-restrictive alternative exists.
Personal exploration is part and parcel of deriving the truth, but letting life’s “mystery” linger in socially essential areas where wisdom has already come mistakes delusion for discovery. The “mystery of life’s” limitless respect for “self-discovery” requires willful blindness toward discovered truths of human experience, unless one chooses to adopt them only as a “lifestyle choice.” This leads adherents to the “mystery of life” to lack any agreed-upon moral framework to defend the order needed for liberty’s survival. The result is a society that talks past itself when attempting to understand its codified standards—an ironic proof of Casey’s observation that “liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt.”
The crucial point is this: people devote themselves to all sorts of things. People treat all sorts of things as their religion. With regard to the question of violence, people kill and die for all sorts of things; there is no good reason to suppose that people are more inclined to kill for a god than for a flag, for a nation, for freedom, for free markets, for the socialist revolution, for access to oil and so on. In certain contexts, ideologies of jihad or the sacrificial atonement of Christ can lend themselves to violence. In other contexts, belief in the free market or in Greater Russia or in the United States as worldwide liberator is what releases killing energies. If the biblical critique of idolatry is on the mark, there is no essential difference between the two, between religious and secular causes.
A recent WSJ/NBC news poll has some data that might shock Democrats: Wendy Davis and her sneakers aside, a plurality of Americans support 20 week abortion bans of the kind passed in Texas. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would support the ban, with 37 percent opposed. And the numbers get more interesting the further down you dig.
Use our widget to get a name like Anthony Weiner’s alleged sexting pseudonym.
Heh. Mine’s Emilio Hazard. Speaking of Anthony Weiner…
By continuing to stand by her husband, and asking voters to do the same, Abedin has lost any goodwill and sympathy she might once have garnered as the jilted pregnant wife. The saying goes “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” New Yorkers don’t appreciate being made fools of. While they may not care about the extramarital affairs Weiner conducts while his wife seemingly looks the other way, they don’t appreciate being lied to or manipulated. For their own sake and for the City of New York, it’s time for the Weiners to drop the redemption act and move on from the mayoral race.