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1.25.2006

Freedom from religion?

Deep question--at least for me. Tell me what you think.

Is there such a thing as "the right to freedom from religion"?
Is it a realistic expectation?
Is it, indeed, a right?
Do people have the right to live in a United States that is completely free from religion, religious overtones, and religious influence?

What brought this on, you ask?

A couple of the online home school groups that I am part of are exploring their own eclecticism and trying to arrive at that seemingly unavailable place called "happy medium" for everyone. It's not working out so well, frankly.

There are those in one group who do not believe in any religion and do not want any references made to faith, religion, beliefs, etc to be part of the group discussions. They are living a religion-free life and want the group to be religion-free as well. It's as if any reference to anything religious is offensive. While I do respect the right of a person to choose not to believe in a religion, I don't think this is a very realistic expectation to place on a group that is comprised of home schoolers of all types. It seems similar to being offended by the very existance of a church building on the corner. Does the fact that you find something "offensive" negate it's right to be? Hardly.

I find certain foods offensive...so I don't eat them.
I find certain music offensive...so I don't listen to it.
I find certain clothing choices offensive...so I don't wear them.
Movies--don't buy a ticket.
Books--don't read.
I find rudeness offensive...so I try not to be rude.
I find immodesty offensive...so I try to avoid places where it is prevalent.

These are things I would not tolerate in myself, for myself or my children, but that is where my "rights" stop. I don't impose my food choices on every other Publix patron. That's laughable. I don't expect Publix to alter their fruit selection to exclude blueberries just because I don't like them, even to the point of detesting them. Seriously, I hate fresh blueberries. They give me unexplainable creeps...but I walk right by them every time I visit. As an adult, I understand that my "rights" do not outweigh the rights of others. I do not expect to live in a completely offense-free zone. I find that extremely unrealistic.

Honestly, I think the expectation that one can live a life that is completely free of anything religious is absurd. You have the right to govern yourself--your choices,where you go, what you do, your children, etc. However, you do not have the right to expect to live in a completely non-offensive world. I say if something somewhere isn't offending you, you need to check your pulse. We each make our own choices. If you don't want religion, don't participate in it, but don't expect everyone else to alter their existance for your sensitivities.

5 comments:

Michelle W. said...

something to think about... Your post is very interesting. I'm not a religous person for many reasons. I respect it when I'm in that situation just like I would respect those who choose not to believe. I think for those who doesn't believe there is a pressure from the religous group to convert them. Therefore there's a lot of conflict between the groups.

Michelle

Debby said...

I find Michelle's thoughts interesting, as well as everything you wrote Sarah. I tend to agree with Sarah, because I am a believer and I also just avoid/don't contribute to/don't support things that are offensive to me. However, in my entire life I can't think of any social situation of mixed believers and non-believers where there has purposefully been pressure to convert the non-believers. Maybe we speak of our beliefs in the presence of others because we believe them, but I know personally I've never begged, coerced, prodded or verbally battered a non-believer to convert. Because I respect their right to make their own choice. Could it be that they are feeling a pressure that's not really there?

Stephanie said...

There seems to be an expectation of tolerance from nonbelievers to belivers but, in my experience, little understanding that this same tolerance works both ways.

Usually, it ends up with people, like you, questioning why tolerance is expected of us and not them. Ones beliefs, religious or not, are sacred and people get touchy about them to the point of verbal standoffs or, in the extreme, terrorism.

Could it be as simple as let's agree to disagree and be tolerant, respectful and not be offended by every little jot and tittle?

It should be. But unfortunately it's not.

Shanna said...

Excellent point made, Sarah. Although I haven't personally experienced a similar situation (yet), I truly believe the day is coming when all Christians will be challenged in any and all forums to back down on public discussion, declaration, teaching, etc., of their beliefs because we offend non-believers, because we are "intolerant" of their views (read: lifestyles), religious or otherwise. Let me remind my sisters in Christ that we are an offensive fragrance to non-believers, and we are SUPPOSED to be. Stand firm! 2 Cor. 2:15-16 As for non-believers feeling a pressure that's "not really there", as Debby mentioned - I would submit that the pressure is on and it's the convicting power of the Holy Spirit they are feeling. And who hates that more than Satan? On to battle, girls....

Shanna from West Tennessee

MarilynH said...

amen. This subject gets my underwear in a knot everytime. I am very tired of all this politically correct crap. In all aspects of PC-ness. Especially those trying to get everything religious (or Christian) out of our world. we can't sing some Christmas songs in our schools, can't have a star on our trees and we can't even call it Christmas anymore for fear of offending someone. Makes me mad. and tired.

I am not Jewish, but I don't get offended and hire I lawyer when I see a dreidel.

thanks for posting this!