On Religious Freedom In A Pluralistic Society

We live in a religiously pluralistic society.  That’s just a fact of life.  According to a recent Pew Forum poll, the religious affiliation of the United States looks as follows:

rel attributes

Protestants account for ~50%, Catholics ~24%, Unaffiliated ~16%, and the remainder is sprinkled among other various religions.

It’s just who this country is, and who this country always has been.

However, primarily since Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency, the Evangelical Protestants have been very vocal about claiming nearly everything they don’t like that he does to be persecution or a “threat to religious freedom”.  Some Conservative Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, have even created something called The Manhattan Declaration.  This document seeks to affirm that the three most important things today are:

  1. Sanctity of Life (read: anti-abortion)
  2. Pro-marriage (read: anti-marriage equality)
  3. Religious liberty (read: religious primacy)

In a scathing article in the Christian Post, Timothy George, Robert George, and Eric Metaxas take the President to task over his declaring January 16 as Religious Freedom Day.

Today, while much of the nation is still celebrating this week’s presidential inauguration, we want to call attention to another day the president has asked America to commemorate. President Obama recently proclaimed January 16 Religious Freedom Day.


Let’s be blunt: this proclamation has people familiar with the president’s notably poor record on religious freedom scratching their heads. It almost seems like a bad joke.

Why is it a ‘bad joke’?

Well, they say there are numerous examples, and then pick three:

  1. The brouhaha over Louie Giglio and the Inaguration.
  2. The contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
  3. The demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Of these three, exactly none are “religious freedom” issue.


They are, without exception, religious primacy issues.

None of these impact, in any measurable way, the ability of the Conservative Christian community to practice their faith openly and without fear of persecution in the United States.

In a pluralistic society, there’s a general rule.  Your right to swing your fist ends at the other guy’s nose.  That means, in a pluralistic society, for the health of the society, there’s a give and take.  It’s the essence of the social contract that we live under when we decide to become a society.

When people like the authors above, or the creators of the Manhattan Declaration, complain that, not faith, but that their particular embodiment of faith isn’t given supremacy above all others and cries of ‘persecution’ are heard, it is rightfully interpreted as an innate hatred of the rest of society and disdain for the social contract we all live under.

There’s a name for people who believe they, and their beliefs, should always be kowtowed to no matter what….

….they’re called sociopaths.

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