Friday, July 15, 2011

Religious freedom: A complicated and bumpy ride

How should Christians respond to threats
against religious freedom in Canada? 
“Without religious freedom, all other freedoms are fake. What good is freedom of speech if you can’t express what you believe? What’s the point of freedom of association if the state restricts consciences and thus the whole point of associating?”

Jim Tonkowich from Oxford House Research asks these very questions in his article on Crosswalk exploring religious freedom today. While focusing specifically on the USA, his piece on religious freedom is certainly relevant for Christians in Canada as well.

Tonkowich highlights three incidents which, in his opinion, demonstrate the “neither merry nor bright” future of religious freedom:

  • The federal court ruling that New York City may forbid churches from using school buildings for worship.
  • The banning of male circumcision, a religious ritual for Jews and Muslims, in Santa Monica and California. 
  • The closure of Catholic Charities, an adoption and foster care organization that shut their doors rather than violate their religious convictions by placing children with same-sex couples.

“The story of religious freedom in America ... [is] a complicated and bumpy ride – sometimes expanding, sometimes contracting,” Tonkowich points out. “The new circumstance we face is a growing hostility to orthodox religious believers in the public square. It’s a threat all religious believers must face seriously and together, knowing that with diligence and with God’s grace, the end of the story could surprise us all.”

You can read the full report here.

What do you think? Are the above incidents causes for concern? In what ways can Christians in the West approach religious freedom issues “seriously and together”? 

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