Comments about ‘In our opinion: Americans should encourage spreading religious freedom across the globe’

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Published: Sunday, May 5 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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george of the jungle
goshen, UT

The games people play. I'm superstitious of the supernatural, I try to stay in my safety zone of knowledge, the known, and interested in trying to understand the unknown. But religion is only what you do religiously. Like brushing your teeth being on time for work, ect. It's what you do religiously. The things that I live for and what I am willing to Die for is my freedom, free agency. My choice to make mistakes and my choice to decide what is expected, accepted and what is unacceptable. But Governments want to control, So we have the organized religion. To control the imagination to control the people.

one old man
Ogden, UT

I know this comment won't be very popular, but here goes: I've witnessed and experienced exactly the kinds of things this article decries many times in churches I've attended right here in America and Utah.

I heard it again just the other day. "I really don't want that child coming to our house. She absolutely stinks of cigarette smoke . . . " And yes, the mother who said it, is a fine member of her church. At least she thinks she is.

Bountiful, UT

Death threats for expressing doubt about one's own religion go far beyond the pale.

But closer to home, people who have doubts, or seek to separate from the religion of their upbringing, get a strong reaction from loved ones, or more often, they hide their true feelings to avoid family conflict or upheaval. The sanction is not death, but guilt for breaking up a family, eternally.

Religion is frequently a very social thing, with ramifications for anything anyone does - or doesn't do - sure to follow.

While the local feeling is often that changing one's religion is a perfectly good and oftentimes desirable thing to do (unless that change goes against the grain, of course), in India religious conversions are seen as an insult to family and ancestors.

How much can the religious truly live with a "live and let live" approach to life? It's a provocative question.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Not only should we support religious freedom, but we should also support the agency that every human being was given by God to choose how to live their life. The freedom to worship God is essential and the freedom to act on the principles and doctrines of that religious worship is also essential.

In the hierarchy of the way we show allegiance, God is at the top, family comes next, and then duty to country comes third. Too many governments put themselves at the top of OUR list.

The Skeptical Chymist

@Mike Richards

I agree with most of your points, but would add that we should also support the freedom to believe that there is no god. There is almost nothing of a more deeply personal nature than what one believes about god. As long as one's beliefs in this area are not harming others, this should be a purely personal issue. And everyone should have the right to express those beliefs as he/she wishes, so long as it is not disruptive.

The right to express these beliefs should only be curtailed when others are in an environment where they are forced to listen to them. This is why I think the Supreme Court was correct to rule that school-sanctioned prayers or religious assemblies in government-run schools is prohibited. Students must attend by force of law, and should not be subjected to forced religious activities by the government. Likewise, proselytizing and forced religious observation by commanding officers in the military should not be permitted. Similarly, the forced participation in religious exercises in prisons should not be permitted. It should likewise be forbidden to differentially reward those who participate as opposed to those who do not.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The greatest threats to religious freedom come from the religions themselves. Us non-believers may become peeved at having religious activities thrust upon our senses, but mostly we don’t object to the gentle persuasion of other people individually demonstrating and exhibiting their religion.

It’s the actions of groups and religious organizations that tend to deny the freedom of religion to others. Like in the lobbying of our government to do or not do as the religious groups desire. The article proposes that our government do more to promote religious freedom around the world while continuously complaining about government control of religion.

Government should not promote religion. Nor should religion try to use government to further their goals.

Bountiful, UT

Can we also also agree that religions who are in a position to affect law not try to enforce their religious restrictions on others who don't share their views?

There used to be places in America where it was illegal to use birth control until the Supreme Court overturned those laws.

Bibles have been illegal in places in the world because certain religion(s) thought their priests should tell people about the Bible rather than have people read it.

There have been laws that businesses must close on sunday.

There are laws in the world that you can't draw a certain religious leaders.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

per 10CC & cjb earlier today;

Both very interesting points.

People IMO use religion to quell their fear of the unknown. Yet, the religious have a hard time coping with the unknown when a family member decides to "break from tradition"

It bothers me how the faithful want all benefits of freedom but can't handle the blowback when Pat Robertson, Tebow, Ayatollah X, etc... open mouth & insert foot

If organized religion is what you helps you in your pursuit of happiness then super. I would ask you allow me the same opportunity to live according to the dictates of my beliefs.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I've met a lot of people like the people in the story. One had to leave his country because he did not belong to the State Church. Not only was he denied employment because of his religious affiliation but was considered a traitor. You don't have to listen to those stories for long before you realize the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in separating Church and State by encouraging religious pluralism.

Los Angeles, CA

I note that the egregious examples given in this article are of religiuos societies abusing nonbelievers rather than the opposite. Given the examples cited, the article could have been titled "Americans should encourage freedom from religions across the globe".

Salt Lake City, UT

Can we agree that when a conflict arises between a religious belief and the Bill of Rights that the Bill of Rights must be held as superior?

The Bill of Rights applies to all Americans, but your personal religious beliefs do not.

If you expect our government to not meddle with your religion then make darned certain that your religion does not meddle with our government.

Los Angeles, CA

How about if we just work to spread freedom (including the subset of religious freedom)?

Here, UT

"Americans should encourage spreading religious freedom"

Then you should stop printing anti-marriage equality pieces. There are many religions and religious people who believe in marriage equality; do you support their religious freedom? If so, you should recognize that not all religions follow the dictates of the local one.

Kaysville, UT

The two items that cause consternation when discussing in a forum are religion and politics. Both have to do with government, one way or another. Having lived or visited countries that have state type of religions, there are some drawbacks to those situations. In the military we had foreign military personnel in training and operational exercises. Usually, there is not a problem but it does cause some tap dancing around beliefs and practices at times, depending on gender and religious practices.

Having been in a training flight with a Saudi prince that was preparing for a job as a pilot in their military, we didn't have a problem and he later became a Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations. I am sure his life is not been easy as his brother recalled him during on of the tense moments with Saudi Arabia and middle east politics.

We need to practice the truth that we preach. The truth will make you free and our government's have not been doing that. Freedom of religion comes from governments that allow freedoms with law and order. Black and white is hard to define but is easy for people with emotions for 7,000 years.

American Fork, UT

Some good posts here today. Looks like we could start spreading religious freedom right here, in utah.


"Consider the case of the woman in Great Britain who regularly wore a pendant with a cross to work and was subsequently fired as a result. "

There were two different cases in Great Britain where women wearing a cross were fired. The fact is, the dress code at their places of employment were "no visible jewelry." There are legitimate reasons why a business may restrict jewelry--like for a factory worker where it could be dangerous, or someone working in a healthcare setting where sterility was important etc. The Catholic Church doesn't require adherents to wear crosses.

As some have pointed out, many of the examples of religious intolerance actually involved religion being intolerant of non-adherents. People of faith ought to worry about being better examples and promoting freedom in general instead of using religion as a political tool. Religion can be destroyed just as easily from self-inflicted wounds.

Minneapolis, MN

Religious Freedom is tricky. Having been heavily influenced by the writings of Ernest Becker, I feel every action is religious and every action by an individual affects everyone else, albeit indirectly.
Generally, from my view, to maintain or increase freedom in a society is risky as it requires a people to move into territory where they have to deal with the unknown in life instead of trying to pursue a path of protecting oneself from having to face the challenges of mortality.
Also, when it comes to laws, governments are imbued with power over a society, when the government involves itself in moral issues, it behooves an individual to do everything within ones power to make the governing body reflect the individuals beliefs on that particular moral issue. Because, in all reality, absent external influences, if the individual does not act that way, and the government adopts a view contrary to the individual's, the individual may likely lose the ability to exercise that belief, either through government or neighborly coercion. Ideally, if religious freedom is to be protected, it is important for government to be as small as possible.


To spread religious freedom you first need to have it - and not just on paper and political rhetoric.

Is this the nation in which Mormons were subjected to mobocrats in various states, denied justice or protection from, and received persecution at the hands of, authorities everywhere, driven from their own property and driven right out of the USA, with no help from either state or federal government? Was an army sent against them after that? Just checking.

Is prayer in schools forbidden, schools where God is rarely ever mentioned unless sceptically, and scriptures outlawed? Still checking.

Ye know not the hearts of men in your own country.

Bountiful, UT

Religions do not all necessarily deserve freedom. In America we assume they do, but we are not correct in this assumption.

If for example a religion teaches it has the right to kill people who decide to leave that religion, a society has the right to exterminate that religion if it chooses.

If a religion teaches that parents have the right to kill their children who wont follow the religion, such as in honor killings, .. A society has the right if it chooses to exterminate that religion.

If a religion teaches that women do not have the right to be educated, and goes so far as to kill or maim girls who do anyway, a society has the right to exterminate this religion if they choose to.

Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . the mother who said it, is a fine member of her church. At least she thinks she is."

It'd be interesting to hear the rest of that story. What did you say when you heard this? Were you kind to both the child and the errant critic?

The truly religious don't, of course, believe in imputing the sins of parents to kids. Or in being less than welcoming to those seeking rapprochement with God.

Others, unfortunately, are dedicated to imputing faults of those whose struggle [jihad, perhaps?] is still incomplete, to all people of faith. They even challenge us to refuse fellowship to those with whom they disagree, as proof of our compassion.

We're all sinners. The real rainbow coalition is composed of sinners of all stripe, coming together to assist one another in becoming better people.

Too many, however, sit on the sideline, dedicated to an exclusive focus on real people's faults. They ignore, minimize, even mock their considerable efforts to overcome them.

I guess it makes them feel more righteous.

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