Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Price of Religious Freedom

Most denominational clergy are ordained after scrutiny from their respective denominations after having received a Bachelor's Degree and a 90 credit Master of Divinity degree. Religious freedom indicates, however, that any group of people can start a church and clergy can be ordained by a group of people within that church or receive mail order certificates of ordination. People can start their own churches and set their own belief patterns. As a result, unlike physicians or attorneys who have a standard of education that everyone must have, clergy do not. We live with this because of religious freedom. It is better to have the freedom to live like this than it is to not have this freedom.

Here is what else if means. If people want to build an Islamic Center in downtown Manhattan, blocks away from Ground Zero, they can. They have as much a right to do this as the people from Westboro Baptist Church have to protest at funerals because other Christians happen to believe Jesus loving everyone, and if some fool in Florida wants to burn the Quran, he also has that right.

The right to do something, of course, does not mean that one ought to do something. There are some things that are ethically dreadful that people have the right to do. There is some practice of religion that is deplorable and even objectionable to most people. Religious freedom is worth all this, however, because it enables each of us to practice our faith (or not) the way we so choose.

Ponder for a moment. We ban a mosque. That means when a Baptist Church wants to open a congregation we say, "No, because Westboro Baptist Church calls themselves Baptist and they are dreadful." The fact that Westboro is not representative of most Baptist Churches would be lost. The move goes further when we begin to believe we can ban ALL churches because, well, we can.

The price of religious freedom is that we live with stuff we don't like so that everyone has the right to their own faith. The price is actually pretty high, but, I believe, well worth it.

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