Free *exercise* of religion

Good one from Ross Douthat at the NYT, Defining Religious Liberty Down:

THE words “freedom of belief” do not appear in the First Amendment. Nor do the words “freedom of worship.” Instead, the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans something that its authors called “the free exercise” of religion.

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair…

I cannot improve upon the way the first lady of the United States explained this issue, speaking recently to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today…

It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.

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One Response to Free *exercise* of religion

  1. Paul Marks says:

    Of course what Michelle Obama actually means by “fighitng injustice” and “speaking truth to power” the lady means “demaning an increase in Welfare State spending” – which is exactly what Jesus did NOT do. He did not rush off to Rome (the Washington D.C. of its day – and which Jesus never visited at all) and preach about the need for more “bread and circuses”.

    Also I do not see a link between the teaching of Jesus and the RACISM of Michelle Obama (racism that is clear from the lady’s Princeton thesis – unlike Barack’s Columbia work, Michelle’s thesis is available). On the contrary – the New Testiment declares that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek. That everyone has a GOD CREATED imortal soul (their true selves) and that God offers (for all those who will only accept it) enternal life for the INDIVIDUAL SOUL.

    A speech from Michelle Obama about how this (for example how we meet our dead relatives and friends again – when we die and our souls return to God) would be most welcome. It would show that the lady has moved on from her “Liberation Theology” and “Social Justice” view of religion and had come to real religion. That the Princeton student (the product of the corrupt Chicago Machine) had finally become a different sort of person.

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