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  • Why Religious Freedom Should Be Precious to All

    Grateful neighbors wished to honor the seven Brooklyn firefighters riding Ladder 101 who perished after pulling up to the burning north tower of the World Trade Center on a crystal-blue morning nine years and 10 months ago. The community won city approval to rename a portion of a street near the Red Hook firehouse, also home of Engine 202.

    When new street signs with the words Seven in Heaven Way went up last month, though, the atheist lobby began to raise heck. It’s “the wrong thing to do,” one American Atheists official insists.

    “What’s wrong, actually, is this kind of sweeping intolerance,” Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall writes in an op-ed for the McClatchy-Tribune wire that’s running in newspapers from South Carolina to Kansas to California. “This is no time for confusion over the meaning of religious freedom.”

    Marshall, director of Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, writes:

    Considering the threat of terrorism and America’s appeals for Muslim societies to reject Islamist extremism and embrace freedom, it’s important we understand the nature of our own liberty. … Religious freedom, the cornerstone of all freedom, is freedom for religion not hostility toward it. Far from privatizing or marginalizing religion, the Founders assumed religious believers and institutions would take active roles in society, engaging in the political process and helping to shape consensus on morally fraught questions.

    Six months after Pope Benedict XVI spoke out for religious liberty in celebrating the World Day of Peace, Marshall notes, Islamic scholars Abdullah Saeed and Mustafa Akyol addressed the issue in recent posts on the Witherspoon Institute’s “Public Discourse” website. Beginning with the Quran, Saeed and Akyol make faith-based cases for true freedom — which Muslim societies typically don’t extend to women or religious minorities, whether Christian, Jew or Hindu.

    Catholic bishops from North Africa and the Middle East, who traveled to Venice for a conference of the Oasis International Foundation as the street-name flap unfolded in Brooklyn, know these limits on liberty all too well.

    As Marshall, author of “Why Does Religious Freedom Matter?” for Heritage’s Understanding America series, writes:

    Most nations are dominated, demographically anyway, by adherents of particular faiths. But every denomination—and the atheist camp as well—is a small minority somewhere on the planet. This reality underscores why religious liberty, not the radical secularist or theocratic systems at either end of the spectrum, should be precious to everyone.

    The radical secularists, including those bent on setting up roadblocks to Seven in Heaven Way, have wandered off the sure path to freedom.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Why Religious Freedom Should Be Precious to All

    1. MJF in CT says:

      I am not even going to get into the fact that none of this "separation of Church & State" is in the Constitution – we Conservatives and scholars of the Constitution know this already.

      What I am seeing is almost all of this flapping about religious interference seems to be one sided. I don't hear the American Atheists complaining when a school makes it mandatory for students to take Muslim classes. I don't see the American Atheists running to shut down mosques and I certainly do not see American Atheists jumping up and down when a Muslim woman walks around in head covering. They want crosses removed from soldier's graves but I don't recall the American Atheists complaining about the Star of David on the other graves.

      The American Atheists need understand that America is what it is because we allow Religious Freedom and that means that we respect the fact that not everyone believes what we believe. We don't push our belief on others and we don't complain when others practice their religion.

    2. Winston says:

      Don't lump all atheists together please

    3. @zachdowdle says:

      I love how Christians cry discrimination when citizens object to state-sanctioned religious symbols and messages. The same group, I suspect, would oppose the project to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. The street sign could easily commemorate the heroes without imposing a particular religious idea upon everyone who happens to be in the area.

      • Tina Rocha says:

        Tuff chit dowdle, don't look at it. Now that’s something a toddler could understand, no? There is going to come a time when the piper will be paid my non friend and that will be sooner rather than later. Do not tell me how to live my life and do not try and change the principals in which this country was founded. If 7 Brooklyn firefighters of Ladder 101 want this why keep it from them? I’m no bible thumper but I am a believer dowdle but that’s not the point. Your very response regarding your reinterpretation of our Constitution and its 240 years of precedent is exactly the catalyst that will precipitate a stand-off Amigo and it won’t be a stand-off. Bank it.

    4. Chris in N.Va. says:

      Perhaps fewer feathers would be ruffled if they called it "Whatever Way"? Or "Who Knows Avenue."

      Sheesh….. Sure am glad our Founding Fathers fought for our Right To Never Be Offended (also known as the Geting-the-Vapors Avoidance Guarantee) in our Bill of Foot-stomping-breath-holding Demands.


    5. Bobbie says:

      What religion does "heaven" come from? It's a word to atheists that some have come to be overly sensitive to. Just like Jesus. No religion did He preach. The most peaceful man on earth yet people (unfortunate and ignorant) show to be offended by him????? Same with God who promotes no religion, but if the term is used….WOW!!!!! People are just looking to be offended anyway they can for attention AND PROBABLY DIVERSION!!! It's sad that attention is forcibly necessary. How sad for America and pathetic of them. Unless a religion is a threat to humanity, nobody's religion is anybody's business, but a freedom of choice!

    6. steve h says:

      If you are so much in support of religious freedom, where folks are free to believe what they want, then why are you so fanaticly against gay marriage? Someoen who truly beleived in religious freedom would not have a problem with something that their religion is opposed to. More hypocrisy from the right – who look at the bible only when it fits their arguments. They cite it left and right over gay marriage, but never cite it when it comes ot helping the poor – or the parts where those who treated the least of God's brother badly ended up in hell.

    7. Bobbie says:

      Steve, marriage has been around for 1000's of years under one definition. Gay people were probably around alot longer! Why all of a sudden this desire to beg to be a part of a definition gay people don't fit under? It isn't appreciated when people use their sexual preference to note a discriminating factor regarding that preference with no regard or respect or tolerance of the meaning that promotes the word's true meaning which specifies nothing of sexual preference. You want to blame it on a bible? Sure, marriage without mention of sexual preference is noted in the bible AND IN THE dictionary. How about a person's choice of intolerance? No hypocrisy here, just respect for the English language and meanings.

      • Bobbie says:

        oh and Steve, regarding the bible and citing the "poor?" Some people don't desire bragging rights. What is done to the least of Jesus brothers is done unto Jesus. Very true! Gay people may be the least of Jesus brothers as you suggest but let's suppose Jesus brothers had the urge, the love of God the Father builds strength of unwillingness to carry out the act that is by choice and in direct defiance of God's will. Everyone knows God loves even those that call themselves gays and everyone knows God despises homosexual acts. FIGURE IT OUT!!!

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