Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Moultrie Observer - Pew study can give us perspective on religious freedom

Moultrie Observer - Pew study can give us perspective on religious freedom
On the other hand, in most cities and towns it’s difficult to look in any direction without seeing a church steeple or reading about a program sponsored by faith organizations with many people involved. Churches run the gamut from architectural masterpieces to store front chapels. Some are conservative and some are liberal and some are in between. And seemingly, none are without some differences of opinion that become or bridge on national controversy when it comes to doctrine, interspersed with politics.
Our First Amendment provides us with religious freedom and freedom from the state establishing a religion.
Now consider this, a recent study by the famous Pew Research Center shows that people living in a third of all countries are restricted from practicing religion freely, either because of government policies and laws or hostile acts by individuals or groups,
In Indonesia, Muslim groups burned down a mosque belonging to the minority Ahmadiyya. In Singapore, the government refuses to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Belgium, 68 religion-based hate crimes are reported in 2007 alone.
The United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom have the least amount of restrictions on religious practices when measured by both government infringement and religion-based violence or harassment, according to the study.
Keep in mind that the study said “religion,” it did not say Christianity. Perhaps Americans make the mistake of equating the two terms which leads to some of the confusion especially when it comes to defining “oppression” in this context. And a lot depends on how a survey question is asked. In other words, is it a documented fact that you feel your religion is oppressed or is it just your opinion.
There are those who would wrongly suggest that the First Amendment really means for us to choose between a number of Protestant faiths.
Here in the U.S. , if we are honest with ourselves, and with respect to the concept of not imposing our religion on others, we would be very hard pressed in the United States to declare that we are denied freedom of religion or that our faith suffers from government oppression.
Sometimes we just need to look around us ... and particularly at other countries ... to draw a better perspective or our rights and perhaps a better appreciation for our Constitution.
It could be that we spend too much time blaming the courts for our own individual shortcomings in the venue of faith and religion.

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