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Washington Post columnist says secularism increases religious tolerance

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 2:00 p.m. MDT

Feb. 2012, Reverend William E. Lori, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing: Feb. 2012, Reverend William E. Lori, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing: "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion & Freedom of Conscience." According to Jacques Berlinerblau, having a secular society will encourage freedom of conscience. (Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press)

Religion and the government are often debated: What role does each play with the other?

The recent YouTube video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad has rehashed the ongoing debate of religious tolerance. "Secularism is our best way to protect religious freedom and encourage tolerance," Marty Moss-Coane said on Radio Times, quoting from Jacques Berlinerblau's book, "How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom."

Berlinerblau's, a faith columnist for the Washington Post and associate professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and director of the University's Program for Jewish Civilization, says secularism is the way to govern a society as complex as ours with so many religious differences.

" … One thing they (secularists) believe is that a society should be orderly, and there should be a maximum amount of freedom of religion and freedom from religion within the constraints of orderliness," Berlinerblau said in the broadcast.

However, former GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, among others, have said if the U.S. becomes a secular country it also becomes an atheist country, according to Radio Times.

But Berlinerblau opposes those views and said that secularists and atheists actually don't coincide and that the secularist view is actually more of a Christian view.

"Christianity has always had this deep seeded suspicion about what happens when faith and power collide," he said in Radio Times. "Secularism emerges, precisely as I try to describe it, as a vision of protecting freedom of conscious, religious liberty, the right of citizens to believe absolutely anything they want to believe. And as we build out the secular package in the 20th Century that also means the right of not to believe." Berlinerblau also mentions religious leaders such as Martin Luther who worried about freedom of conscious.

Listen to more of Berlinerblau's comments on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.

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