This is the rallying cry of conservative Christians in America. Religious freedom is the bedrock upon which our society is built. The Founding Fathers believed in the importance of religious freedom and the original Puritan settlers escaped the tyranny of England in the name of religious freedom. Because of this, the government cannot clamp down on religion and must promote religious freedom…
…Or so the story goes. In spite of it all, little incongruities seem the lurk just beneath the surface. There are things that, when really thought about, just don’t line up as nicely as we would want. Let’s do a bit of thinking.
Religious freedom is a moral good; at least, that’s what the average Christian conservative assumes. This is simply accepted without question or thought. But what exactly is this moral good we call religious freedom? Well, it would seem that religious freedom means exactly that. The individual has the right to believe whatever religion they feel is worthy of belief. In addition, the individual can take whatever bits and pieces they find palatable from any combination of religions or even refuse to believe in any religion. In order to preserve this right to religious freedom, the state cannot dictate to the people what religion they can or can’t convert to. In addition, people should be free to proselytize and attempt to convert others to their religion. There should be a free market, so to speak, when it comes to religion and each belief system should sink or swim based how it can attract adherents. So far, I don’t think any of this is blasphemous; these are simply the assumptions that lurk subconsciously within Americans.
Given the above description of religious freedom, let’s now look at this from a Christian perspective. The Christian believes that all religions other than Christianity are false. Other religions may contain grains of truth, but they all lead to damnation in the end. Yes, I know there are liberal Christians who dispute this, but we’ll ignore those heretics for now. I am, after all, talking to conservative Christians.Now, assuming Christianity is the only way to paradise and salvation, why wouldn’t you want your community and nation to endorse, support and establish Christianity as a state religion? Why not unite the Christianity and the state in this way in order to forbid the spreading and proselytizing of false religions?
The response I anticipate is that such a thing will lead to forced conversions. But it need not. We are merely talking about the legitimization of Christianity as the national religion and the clamping down on the proselytizing of false religions. Religions minorities will not be hunted down and killed; they will be left alone so long as they keep their religion private and refrain from any attempts to convert Christians. Defiance of such laws will lead to fines, imprisonment, exile and (in the most severe of cases) death. If you are a conservative Christian (not to mention an average American), then I’m sure I’ve horrified you with my suggestions. It would seem that my suggestions would destroy religious liberty and establish religious tyranny. Such a reaction, however, betrays your priorities.
Again, if Christianity is the only way to God and paradise, then why would you allow false religions to proselytize and potentially cause Christians to apostatize? “But what about liberty and freedom?” says the American Christian. Well, what about them? Isn’t the salvation of human souls far more important than nebulous principles like liberty and freedom? It seems to me that the significance of liberty and freedom pales in comparison to the eternal destiny of souls. Let me illustrate this for you in a simpler manner. Suppose you have your local church or parish. Now imagine that your pastor, priest or whatever allows believers of other religions to come in and attempt to convert the flock because religious freedom. Sound bizarre? Well why should the sentiment change when on a national scale?
The funny thing is that the god-hating atheist is more rational here. See, the god-hating atheist believes that all religions (especially Christianity) are false and destructive to humanity. If you believe such a thing, then it would be logical to do away with religion and clamp down on religious freedom. After all, why would you want such a destructive force running around, wrecking havoc in your nation?
As a Christian, you believe that apostasy will lead to damnation. So why would you allow the potential for apostasy into your community in the name of religious freedom? Are you not prioritizing religious freedom at the expense of human souls?