Religious Freedom or Freedom of Speech
Today, on eof my friends, a Christian, sent me an email about a pastor in Sweden who apparently was jailed for making remarks about the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality. This alarming e-mail was of the type that I was used to hearing back when I was a Seventh Day Adventist. We would hear about how such a such a country was stopping Christians from practicing their religion or spreading the Gospel. Oddly, at least to me, no one ever addressed the question of whether the people being "missioned" wanted to become Christians or had even asked to be put upon by Missionaries who felt that it was their right to go any and everywhere and terrorise people with stories of Hellfire. It is my opinion that many of those who converted were far more impressed with the worldly material things that many missionaries brought with them like medicine, technical know-how, than the actual religion. But that's off the point. The e-mail wanted me to wun and sign an online petition to let US legislators know that I object to churches being threatened with revokation of their tax-exempt status for engaging in politicing as well as the passage of hate-speech legislation in parts of the country. To which I responded:
A couple of things here:
a) Tax exempt status for churches or religious institutions: This isn't a right. It is a tax code priviledge extended by the state to religious organizations with the explicit instruction that the said organization does not enjoin in partisan politics. Nothing in the tax code, civil or criminal code prevents any members of any religious organization from forming PACS ( Politcal Action Committees) and advocating for whatever issue they feel like. The tax code currently in vogue for such actions is the 507's.
b) Hate Speech Legislation: I have never been a fan of hate speech legislation as it criminalizes a supposed "fundamental right" of freedom of expression. Thus such legislation is an example of "careful what you ask for, you just might get it." You can't run after Klan members and Nazis on "hate crimes and not expect that other "oppressed" groups would no go for theirs. I'm a believer in the right for a fool to say whatever he or she wants, and i think that such fools have the right to get punched in the face for what comes out their mouths with no legal repecussions. But that's my own personal opinion. What should happen is that all "hate crime" and 'hate speech" legislation ought to be recinded and people should only be prosecuted for actual criminal activity. You can call me a N**ger all day long, the minute you touch me or my property you've committed a crime that already on the books. Same for people who are against Homosexuality: they have the right to say whatever they want to, it is the people who take the liberty to assault, kill or otherwise violate a gay persons right as a citizen and human being that should face prosecution for whatever law they have broken.
Enforce the laws against criminal behavior and stop making up new crimes.
_- Edited 4:27 PM:
Is there something in the air at churches that I managed to be immune to? When I sent the above response to the e-mail, I recieved this:
If a person holds himself/herself accountable to God, then in man's eyes all
that person's decisions and actions are consider foolishness. But if a
person holds himself/herself accountable to man, then in man's eye's all
that person's decisions and actions is consider being wise. I rather be a
fool in man's eyes than a fool in God's eye.
What is this? Why is that a large percentage of Christians seem to have very poor reading comprehension skills and seem to be very proud to put that fact on display? What exactly was the point (aside from the usual attempt to prosylitise)? It was clear that I object to any restriction of speech that does not immediately endanger the public (shouting "fire" in a crowded room) which would include the speech given by the Swedish pastor (though I have my issues with him outside of his homosexual opinions). Here's a bit of free advice to any "Born Agains" of anyh particular expansionist faith:
1)God (in whatever way you concieve of it) created everything, including logic, Use it in your conversation.
2) You weak attempts at conversion will only work on weak minded, unread individuals. When you encounter someone who is well read I suggest you either exit the conversation or be prepared to have a logical, fact based discussion and no, the Bible, strictly interpreted, is not fact. Sorry to have to tell you that.