Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rambling Thoughts on Religious Freedom

I have been absent lately on the blogosphere, especially in regards to this contraception/freedom of religion debate. Thanks, Basil, for continually keep us posted. I've been hoping for some time to really reflect and organize my thoughts, but alas, the busyness of school (and school) has been a tad extreme. So all I have the time and space for is a rambling in regards to a few personal thoughts.

First, I think that both sides misperceive the motives of the other. This has nothing to do with right or wrong, or logic versus illogic, but simply a matter of misunderstanding. For example, secularists tend to perceive the religious as illogical, irrational, superstitious, and generally authoritarian. "All must live by the irrational and superstitious opinions I get from some crazy book written thousands of years ago by God knows who," is their parroting of the religious. But I also think the religious often misperceive the secularists, despite the fact that I think the secularists are in the wrong.

For example, I think a lot of people view Obama – and all those who fit in his particular political and social ideology – as being consciously hostile, anti-God, and filled with an agenda to destroy every and all religious sentiment and ideology in America. There's often a viciousness projected onto the hearts of the secularists. “I’ve never seen people so directly and intentionally fight for evil,” one friend of mine said recently. You can conclude that the secularists’ basic political agenda is hostile to religion without projecting this conscious viciousness onto the motivations of the secularists as human persons. I think this restricts open communication, as well as allows the secularists to scoff at the religious for labeling them as “Satan.”

Let me make up an exaggerated example. If there were a religious organization that was fighting to prevent interracial marriage in the United States, I think a lot of us, even those strongly religious, would argue against these measures on mainly secular terms. We might find the group’s appeal to “freedom of religion” as thinly veiled racism; and we wouldn’t want their appeal to "religious freedom" to propel them to make their religious beliefs law.

I understand that this issue and the issues we've been talking about are very distinct. I understand that there are legal, constitutional, and reasonable distinctions between this imagined example and the present political example. I simply bring it up because I think that a lot of secularists in our present situation view us the same way that we would view those of the earlier religion. The secularists might not be right to equate the two situations, but it's not helpful, from any standpoint, to see them as hellishly hostile to religion, if they simply see this as a rights issue. From their standpoint, they're fighting for something basic and human. This can be true even if their political agenda is hellishly hostile to freedom of religion. I'm simply making the point that religious should consider the psychological motivation of secularists.

But now a word to those secularists. I have a lot to say, but I’ll leave it to one comment right now. If we were able to ask our Founding Fathers about this present situation, I don’t think they would understand it. The Christian ideology was so intertwined with everyday American living that the idea that a Christian belief might be labeled as dangerous or wrong by a prevailing social ideal would be foreign. Morality was grounded in faith.

Nowadays secularists scoff at this grounding. “What ridiculous superstition!” they claim. But herein lies the irony: Where and how do the secularists ground their morality? The vast majority would probably point to reason. Where Christians use faith the secularist uses logic. But this is pretty silly and empty. Reason and logic can never get you morality, for the simple fact that reason and logic can never get you to the worth or dignity of the human person. Reason got us the Holocaust. Reason got us Communism. Reason got us many a bloody, inhumane revolution. Reason doesn’t get us morality.

So what exactly are the secularists using to ground their morality? Quite frankly, it’s simply a set of populist ideas resulting mainly from emotional calculation: Gay marriage can’t be wrong! It’s gotta be wrong to make a woman have a baby! It can’t be wrong to prevent a pregnancy! But these are gut feelings, empty expectations that spring from societies that have almost no formed consciences.

So who's more ridiculous? The person who believes that humans have value because they were made in the image and likeness of God and that’s why certain things are right and others wrong? Or the person who throws out all of this and simply claims some things are good and others bad because he feels like it’s gotta be so, or if it isn’t it’d simply be terrible?