Sunday, August 14, 2011

Religious Freedom, a Spanish Archbishop, and Pew Research

Tolerance and religious freedom are important.

That's what I think. Which isn't all that important - except to me, my family, and neighbors.

Freedom, religious freedom, and tolerance, are valued ideals of American culture:1 so valuing freedom is one way in which I'm not particularly counter-cultural. And that's another topic.

I had to do a sort of mental house-cleaning when I converted to Catholicism, checking assumptions I'd picked up from the local culture against Church teachings. I had to discard some cherished ideas, like the 'clockwork universe' model. Which is yet another topic.

My ideas about freedom, religious freedom, and tolerance, stayed in the 'keep' pile: although I've had to stretch them a little.

The Catholic Church teaches that religious freedom is important. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109) For everybody. (Catechism, 2106) Which is fine with me - particularly since, as a Catholic, I'm a member of a religious minority in the country.

(More about the Catholic Church and freedom under Background, near the end of this post.)

Which gets me to this post's topic.

It's Freedom of Religion, Not Freedom from Religion

When I finished doing time in American academia, political correctness was in flower. Which may be why I'm glad I'm on the outside.

No rant - not today.

I think it's important to remember that America's constitution was intended to give people here freedom of religion. Not freedom from religion.

Burning Books, Disrupting Funerals, and Getting a Grip

I'm slightly sympathetic with folks who say they don't like religion, or religious people. I grew up in an area where too many radio preachers seemed to have trouble deciding which they hated more: commies or Catholics.

These days, we've got the occasional exuberant little church that makes national news by burning a Quran. And there's the recurring embarrassment of the Westboro, Kansas, Baptist Church: Fred Phelps' little roll-your-own denomination. That's the one that tours the country, disrupting funerals.

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

No wonder the fellow said, "Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." (June 23, 2011)

But, like I keep saying: These folks are not typical Christians.

As for the broader "religious people" category? I think the Dalai Lama is a bit closer to the norm than Fred Phelps - but that's more of a guess, than a considered opinion.

Then there's Philip Neri, and I've covered him before. (March 15, 2011)

I've said this before - I don't expect to convince a zealot. Now, for non-zealots who've heard that religion is bad for people: 'What everybody knows' about religion on some of America's more (sophisticated?) circles - just ain't so. More about that:

Spanish Archbishop Sounds Off

Part of what got me started on today's post was what I read on the CNA website:
"Spanish archbishop: Catholics have the right to freedom of expression"
CNA (Catholic News Agency) (August 12, 2011)

"Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo, Spain spoke out Aug. 11 in defense of World Youth Day 2011. He said that Spain is a free country where Catholics have the right to express themselves.

" 'Why are freethinkers, atheists and secularists more right than others?' he asked. 'It should be noted that Catholics, who pay taxes just like everyone else, make up the vast majority in Spain,' the archbishop added...."
Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo may sound a bit tightly-wound on the topic - but I think he has a point.

Pew Research

Then there was this, from Pew Research:
"Rising Restrictions on Religion"
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (August 9, 2011)

"The kinds of social hostilities that recently erupted in violence in Norway have been rising across Europe, a new report by the Pew Forum shows. Social hostilities involving religion have risen substantially in a number of European countries, including Sweden, Denmark and the U.K. The report also looks at government restrictions on religious beliefs and practices around the world.

"The report, Rising Restrictions on Religion, by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, finds that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the world's 198 countries (12%), decreased in 12 countries (6%) and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries (82%).

"Because several countries with increasing restrictions on religion are very populous, however, the increases affect a much larger share of people than of states...."
I'm fond of the phrase, "my end of the boat isn't sinking." I think it's easy - tempting - to ignore a problem if it doesn't directly affect us.

Easy, yes: smart, no.

It's easy to feel that it's okay when 'those people over there' are told what sort of clothes to wear:
When the fashion police come knocking at the door, though - well 'it can't happen here?'

It's getting late, and I've still got chores to do.

Related posts:
News and views:
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church and

1 Note - I said "Freedom, religious freedom, and tolerance, are valued ideals of American culture."

America isn't perfect, and hasn't lived up to those values as well as I'd like. But I think we do pretty well. I think our track record - imperfect as it is - for letting folks be themselves is one reason that so many people are trying to break into this country. Yet again another topic.

America also has a pretty good track record, I think, for dealing with egregious practices. Not always promptly: It took something like a hundred years before the Federal government started sorting out systematic treaty violations of the 19th century.

Which reminds me of a quote I used about a year ago:
"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian."
Robert Orben, The Quotations Page
More about me and America:

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.