In our opinion: Religious freedom is the key to harnessing the positive social role of faith


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  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    I think a definite case could be made demonstrating those that don't value religious freedom and religious diversity are those least aware of religions in general. Ignorance breeds contempt.

    It is sadly chilling how many now equate the first amendment right of the free exercise of religion as the right to not ever encounter religion... which is, ironically, the complete opposite intent.

    I love the idea of all religions respectfully communicating and sharing the public discourse... sadly to those who want to foil this idea, they bring up extremes like the pastafarians, or satanism, or some religion based upon the destruction of religious freedom (like atheism) as though that should be the norm, when their very intent has nothing to do with mutual respect.

    Of course all the above goes without saying, because many of the comments in this thread demonstrate these things.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    Can I say that without love, none of it means anything! Sometimes religious freedom is used to hurt and even destroy others.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 5, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    Saint George, UT
    "Christians will make our economy work best"...

    That's funny --
    The Chairman of the Federal Reserve has been dominated by Jews for most of the last 100 years.

    Eugene Meyer
    Arthur F. Burns
    Alan Greenspan
    Ben Bernake
    Janet Yellen

    With a side note of Utah's own Marriner Stoddard Eccles being Chairman of the Board from 1934-1951 -- who was a Mormon and a Democrat.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 5, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    Hi Bandersen –

    Thanks for reaching out.

    “Christians will make our economy work best, not government . . .”


    So, in your mind, no one but Christians should occupy positions of economic control?

    Is that why the economy went out of control during the GW era? It was Alan Greenspan’s fault, the head of the Fed? Sure, blame it on the Jewish guy. That’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction in Conservative circles isn't it?

    The bigotry inherent in American “Conservatism” is not so subtle at times, is it?

  • Stable thought FORT MORGAN, CO
    May 5, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    I hear a repeated theme over and over by non-believers, agnostics and atheists...religion is a net negative and I also hear the more people die at the hands of the religious than by non-believers, agnostics and atheists, oh to the contrary. Here is the list of atheists and at the very least agnostic at best (most non-believers) Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol pot, Hitler shall I go on?....before I hear the crusades...not even close...Muslim extremists...not ...even close.

    So if your going to make claim, do your home work. The best argument for those who want to paint religion in a bad light...at time misguided, to conservative, to many zealots sprinkled in with a few bad apples that at times did horrendous things on a small scale.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    re: cjb 5/3 3:46p

    All organized religions use fear & guilt to control & manipulate.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 4, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    "No one can be strongly Christian and strongly "Conservative" at the same time." I guess you wanted a response,so a laugh was a welcome respite from such infantile statements. No need to sugar coat your disdain for what is a pretty large swath of America. Christians understand that in order for the message of the gospel to flourish,including the guarantee of religious freedom, the other guranteed freedoms we enjoy in this country must also exist, including the right to own private property. Those who confuse Captialism with Christianity are ignorant. Those who confuse Socialism with Christianity are dangerous. Christians will make our economy work best, not government, as is the case for those who believe government is God. Whatever a "Conservative Christian" means, I am not sure. I am sure, however, that those who believe that government is God have a misunderstanding about God. You seem to fall into the latter.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 4, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    Pops -

    "God would not have given us - or our ancestors - liberty if we had not the moral fiber to live as free men without succumbing to the lure of materialism . . ."

    Really? Then why are there so many greed-is-good Republican materialists around who claim to be freedom loving patriots?

    Are you telling me that Ayn Rand Right Wingers are not the strong, brave, free souls they pretend to be?

    I agree that Christianity is at odds with excessive materialism, greed, and hubris, and it is therefore at odds with the American Republican Party.

    No one can be strongly Christian and strongly "Conservative" at the same time.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 4, 2014 7:31 a.m.

    Pops: "those who are abandoning God are, as one might expect, falling victim to the lure of materialism-it's all around us.A lot of people blame this on the failure of Capitalism; rather, it is a failure of us, the people, to stay focused on God." I am sure there are many who either will disregard this clear expression, or continue their own abandonment of God while continuing to blame Capitalism, or not understand it at all, which is even more dangerous! Thank you.

    May 3, 2014 10:59 p.m.


    Based on your quotation of Reagan, I would have to conclude that he did, in fact, characterize religion as a necessary counterweight to freedom. He did not say we are religious because we believe liberty is a gift from God; he said that we desire to share liberty because it is a gift from God. Our being religious necessarily preceded the gift of liberty. God would not have given us - or our ancestors - liberty if we had not the moral fiber to live as free men without succumbing to the lure of materialism, as prosperity is the natural consequence of the combination of true religiosity and liberty. Those who are abandoning God are, as one might expect, falling victim to the lure of materialism - it's all around us. A lot of people blame this on a supposed failure of capitalism; rather, it is the failure of us, the people, to stay focused on God.

    The Soviet Union collapsed because it was based on false principles.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 3, 2014 9:41 p.m.

    I liked the editorial except for the part quoting Ronald Reagan, arguably the worst American President of the 20th century.

    I read the speech, and I didn’t see where “He called religion a necessary counterweight to freedom’s tendency to make people ‘selfish and materialistic.’”

    This is what Reagan actually said: "Freedom, it has been said, makes people selfish and materialistic, but Americans are one of the most religious peoples on Earth. Because they know that liberty, just as life itself, is not earned but a gift from God, they seek to share that gift with the world."


    So . . . freedom (i.e. liberty) makes people selfish, but Americans are religious because they know that liberty (i.e. freedom) is not earned but a gift from God, and we want to share that selfishness-inspiring freedom/liberty with the world.

    Uh huh

    So God gives us the gift that makes us selfish, and we just want to share it with everybody huh?

    Reagan's words apparently baffled the Soviets so much that they just completely gave up, the Berlin Wall came down, and Communism dissolved in Europe.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 3, 2014 8:46 p.m.

    Ranchhand: I like liberty and I know from whence it springs! If that is self centered or arrogant, then may it always be the case, for without it the world sinks into darkness and loses its sense of humanity! The tip of that darkness springs from those who advocate an idea or philosophy that is antithetical to liberty, family, and God! It must be defended in the public square as vociferously as if it were right at my door, for given time, it will. Then, it will be too late!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 3, 2014 7:25 p.m.

    What is good religion and what is bad religion? Is God bad? Can God be bad? Can God do bad things? If God is perfect (and He must be perfect to be God), He cannot still be learning good from evil. If He chooses to do evil, He is not God.

    Some people tell us that there is a difference between good religion and bad religion. They fail to acknowledge that God gives perfect instructions, but that God has given man the freedom to reject those perfect instructions. Some even claim that "religion" requires them to do evil. You can know automatically that they are using "religion" for their own purposes and that they have rejected God in their lives to the point that they mock Him and His doctrine.

    There is no separation between church and state in the Constitution. The Federal Government is forbidden to make laws pertaining to an establishment of religion. The goverment can't tell religion what to do, what to think, or what to believe. It cannot tell citizens to not pray. It cannot tell citizens to not proselyte. Government is restrained, not religion.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 3, 2014 7:06 p.m.

    I just wish that religion would be a little more careful with truth.
    There's no war on religion. There's no need to use business and other non religion entities to further their cause.

    May 3, 2014 7:03 p.m.

    LDS Liberal wrote: "There is NOTHING I am not being allowed to do."

    I suppose that's why the editorial is about protecting religious freedom rather than trying to regain it. The latter is much more difficult to accomplish than the former and usually requires bloodshed.

    Ultra Bob wrote: "No other imaginary, unproven and improvable product could overcome the intelligence of a human being."

    There is one tiny catch, which is this: God has promised that he will reveal himself to those who seek him and are willing to do what he asks them to do. I assure you that he is not imaginary and not unproven, (I'm not sure about "improvable") as I as well as millions of others witness of the truth of his existence. The problem is that one can't prove it to someone else, one can only prove it to one's self. God intentionally arranged it that way so that no man can say they were compelled to believe or to not believe. It's a choice to seek God or to not seek him, so your own eternal fate rests in your own hands and not anyone else's.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 3, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    Religion is good for us, but given too much power in our society it strays from its stated purpose of bringing peace to people and starts to use its control to oppress them. All of history say that religion as a total government is bad for people and civilization. I know of no examples of where religion has elevated societies of mankind above the natural world. There are many examples of where individuals have been elevated above the natural world but even then they are ineffective for the whole.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 3, 2014 6:40 p.m.

    The only reason that religion is so successful is that it plays upon the greatest fear of life, which is fear of dying. No other imaginary, unproven and improvable product could overcome the intelligence of a human being. But religion has been given cart blanch to say and tell any thing it wishes without question. But without it, life might not be so care free.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 3, 2014 6:28 p.m.


    What religion teaches and how it's adherents act are usually two different things.

    @Mike Richards;

    One reason I dislike religion so much is the mini-sermons from it's "special adherents" (you, for instance). Not only are they boring as heck, they're also self-centered and selfish. Just take a look at banderson's comment above if you want an example of selfish - and arrogant.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 3, 2014 6:26 p.m.

    Religion is the most controlling influence on the lives of human beings. Other government entities tend to limit their control over their subjects mainly if not only in the outward freedoms. Religion seeks to not only control the outward expression of a person but the inner most thoughts and beliefs of the individual as well.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 3, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    Religious freedom exits, and is not in any way threatened in in the United States. People can believe as they choose, worship as they choose, pray privately whenever they choose, express their belies and opinions as they choose, etc. And they can accept the consequences of their beliefs and words, just like everyone else does. The only thing they can't do is attempt legally to impose their religious beliefs on the country or to discriminate against people in a manner contrary to the rules and requirements of established law (the same is true for all of us).

    This article is a good advocate for keeping strong the separation of church and state. Each has its own correct area of operation. Don't mix and mingle their legal effects.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 3, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    Religious freedom equally means religious responsibility. God told us to put Him first in our lives. He gave us life. He gave us rules to live by. He wants us to be happy and to make others happy; therefore, He gave us instructions that lead to happiness.

    Too many people reject religion and God because they don't want to be bothered with rules. They don't want instructions. They could care less that their rejection of "godliness" shows only that they are in rebellion against "holiness". They think that agency gives them the freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want however they want. Agency is nothing of the kind. Except for infants and children, there is no such thing as agency without accountability. We are responsible for every thought, for every desire, for every action and for every inaction. We will fully account for our lives to Him who gave us breath.

    Freedom to worship means that we will account to God for how we worshipped or how we refused to worship.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 3, 2014 3:51 p.m.

    While I agree with his negative perceptions of religion, I also think religion has its positives.

    It teaches to treat other as we would want to be treated. It teaches to give to charity.

    How nice it would be if the bad of religion were separated from the good of religion.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 3, 2014 3:46 p.m.

    Here is perhaps some insight as to why some people have negative feelings on religion.

    At work there was a discussion of religion. Some of the people were sharing what religion they were. One young man described himself as a recovering Catholic. When asked to elaborate, he said he was tired of the fear and the control and was trying to free himself.

  • slcdenizen Murray, UT
    May 3, 2014 3:46 p.m.

    In a broader sense, religion plays the role of local institution that enables people to become involved in their community. A successful church or religious organization can be judged by how it provokes participation by it's members. Growing up in the LDS faith there was rarely a week during my teenage years that went by without some involvement with neighbors, many of whom represented diverse ages, backgrounds, and life outlooks. It's this type of community gathering that should be rewarded and encouraged. Unfortunately, accompanying our current age of information is that the dogma from most religions is being laid bare for scrutiny. So there's an increase of people, disenchanted with the negative aspects of religion, who still have the desire for community participation either grudgingly living more solitary lives or reluctantly involving themselves more at work to compensate for the missing component of neighborhood involvement. No, religion and faith aren't inherently positive. Yes, the participatory element that accompanies local community religions plays a crucial role in keeping people productive and fulfilled. It takes a village to raise a child, and an adult happy.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 3, 2014 3:05 p.m.

    Economic well being for as many as possible, if that is in fact the goal, can only come about through Christianity's spread and acceptance. The Muslim world as whole is woefully proof of its absence! Communism has centuries of proof. Socialism is doing its darnedest to delude the masses into slavery and tyranny. Some Capitalists are being deluded by its greedy, fascist complicity with Government recently, looking backward toward the biggest delusion of all, Socialism, and that delusion precipitated by envious, lazy, and immoral people who no longer understand the truth that will make them free, both economically and morally, Christianity! It is without doubt the biggest farce in the world's history to even imply that religion has done anything but allowed the greatest amount of freedom the world has ever known! I am now the discriminated minority in society, which is ironic considering that I am one of the few that is actually doing anything worthwhile, perpetuating children into well adjusted, keenly aware human beings who forge ahead with faith despite the countervailing philosophy that says to do just the opposite, including to ironically ask the federal government to do more for them! Such is the challenge!

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 3, 2014 2:23 p.m.

    I think this editorial really makes the case for both religious diversity and separation of Church and State. As the editorial notes, when those lines are blurred, religion itself no longer has the moral influence it once had. The influence of religious belief is strongest when it is free of other entanglements.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 3, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    I don't see how any real student of history can view religion as anything but a net evil on the world. Yes religion can and has do good but it isn't much and all of that good would have been done anyway even without religion. People generally strive to treat each other better, take care of each other, work to improve life. There are countless examples of that happening by people who aren't religious so religion can't claim it wouldn't happen without it. Then when you look at the evils religion has forced upon the world it just totally overshadows anything good religion has ever done.

    Religious dogma teaches to kill those that don't believe they same way you do or won't convert. It stagnates progress by trying to control believers and discouraging independent thought. There is just no question that all in all religion is one of the worst ideas humans have ever had.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    May 3, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    Gay people are not feeling the love of many religions. When your religion wants to discriminate against some people, and the law says you can't, then you say your religious freedoms are violated.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 3, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    @ 10CC

    "Were it not for their religious beliefs tugging at the respective consciences of our leaders and the wealthy, it would be outright economic warfare, all the time, with no moderation."

    I think religion gets the credit for this when in many instances it is 1) we are hardwired to do unto others because this is what best promotes survival and 2) because we have laws to regulate what we also know to be true about human nature: that we will do things we would not otherwise do if we think no one is watching.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 3, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    I'll believe that we want real religious freedom when Christians don't protest a Muslim Rec Center being built in New York. Until then, I don't put much faith in the sincerity of those who keep yelling "Religious Freedom!"

    Why the double standard?

    Remember, religious freedom means religious freedom for ALL religions, not just the ones we like.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 3, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    While I can agree with the premise of this Deseret News Editorial Opinion --
    I fail to see the complaint here in Utah?

    I can go to Church, the Temple, pray, serve others...

    There is NOTHING I am not being allowed to do.

    This editorial piece needs to be run in Iran or Syria, NOT Utah.

    And as far as Utah is concerned,
    The lack of Religious Freedom is more prevalent amongst those not of the LDS faith,
    The Editors of this Newspaper need to be honest and acknowledge that!

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 3, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    I tell my atheist friends that religions play a net positive role in America.

    Given the incentives in our economic system and the essentially Darwinistic nature of our economic behavior, religions offer a moderating effect.

    Were it not for their religious beliefs tugging at the respective consciences of our leaders and the wealthy, it would be outright economic warfare, all the time, with no moderation.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 3, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    That's fine, but if the satanists who want to build a statue in the state capitol don't get a fair hearing, then your words are hollow.