Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 May 2017

“Sincerely Held Belief” Is a Slippery Slope to Theocracy

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There’s a serious issue with Christian paranoia in North America. We hear Christians complaining about being denied religious freedom, and demanding special rights, beyond the rights of other citizens. Just now, we have a trial in British Columbia, in Canada, on the rights of one particular religious group, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – Fundamentalist. Their deeply held religious belief is that God ordained polygamy and that they should observe it. It seems likely the courts will announce that we can’t honour such a religious “right” because it’s contrary to Canadian civil law. We don’t see a single other religious body standing up for and defending the right of this Church to exercise this deeply held religious belief freely.

However, let’s look a bit further. Follow the arguments and make a list of the “rights” that the state denies Christians in North America, aside from being forbidden to make animal (or human) sacrifices. The rights that certain Christian bodies demand aren’t the right to assemble and worship according to their doctrines, and live their lives according to their doctrines! Not at all. Neither Canada nor the USA has ever infringed those rights. The rights that these particular Christians demand are all… every one of them… the right to deny others their rights and freedoms; the right to persecute, humiliate, and denigrate those who don’t share their doctrine and understanding of life. They stop short of demanding the right to kill blasphemers or to burn witches and perceived heretics at the stake. However, all the rights they claim they are denied have to do with persecuting others, denying others of equal rights with them, the right to subvert the Constitution (in America) or the Charter (in Canada).

In other words, such Christians demand special extra-constitutional rights for themselves, and those rights include attempting to destroy other people’s lives and to persecute those who don’t share their doctrines and understandings. All religious bodies have the right to assemble, read their holy books, and follow their religious practises, so long as those doctrines and religious practices don’t harm others or deprive others of their legal rights. If we believe in our particular Word of God, this gives us no rights to attack, spread hate about, persecute, or attempt to destroy the lives of other who have a different “Word of God” such as the Quran, which they equally deeply and sincerely believe to be the direct “Word of God”.

However, neither Muslims nor others have the right to do those things to those who believe that the Judeo/Christian Bible is the express “Word of God”. Moreover, neither we nor Muslims have any right whatsoever to persecute and destroy the lives of or denigrate those who either understand those Holy Books differently that one or another denomination, or who don’t accept their authority at all. To try to convert people is natural. To try to bully, coerce, and take over the government to force people by law to obey one religion or another is clearly just a form of Ego-Fascism. Compelling outward compliance and not converting the hearts of others seems to me to be utterly opposed to Christ Jesus and the Holy Apostles, that’s shameless and unworthy of the name “Christian”.

11 May 2017

Lazar Puhalo

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Editor:

Christianity is NOT under attack in the USA or Canada. Actually, some claim “rights” that don’t exist. For instance, many Orthodox parishes have made their parish halls places of public accommodation. That is, they rent them out to outsiders, to generate income. If you make your hall into a place of public accommodation, and not a parochial closed venue, then, you must follow the laws regarding places of public accommodation. You can’t allow some to rent the facility and deny it to others based on “sincerely held” beliefs. You must either open it to all comers or keep it as a closed venue. That’s the law in a secular state, and I believe that law to be a good one. Churches shouldn’t be in business… they have more important fish to fry. However, the lure of “easy money” seduces many. We shouldn’t be making our parish halls public banqueting facilities. I’d note that the Catholics don’t do so… they’re right in so doing.

Another so-called “right” is for public officials to refuse to carry out public duties. A civil marriage is NOT a sacramental marriage. A civil marriage is a legal arrangement… not a Mystery of the Church. Can a Christian carry out a “gay marriage?” If one is the public official responsible for such, you must. It isn’t a sacramental action… it’s nothing but a civil contract. Can you disagree with such publicly? Of course, that’s what free speech is all about… but you must also carry out your official duties to the secular state. That’s what many Christian people did in the Sov times. They did right. If a Christian doesn’t feel right in performing such an action, they should deputise a subordinate who’s willing to do it. That protects them… they uphold their duty under the law and uphold the dictates of their conscience, too. What one can’t do is to make a showy self-serving protest… we all know what the Apostle said about loud clashing cymbals, don’t we? Deputise someone and be done with it. That’s the ticket… it upholds conscience and denies the godless a chance to attack Christians and their faith. As the Apostle said, we must be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I’d say that it’s time for serpentine doves… self-inflicted splashy “martyrdom” isn’t Christian, after all…

BMD

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