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My view: Religious freedom is a human right

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  • Joggle Somewhere In, HI
    June 27, 2013 1:27 a.m.

    The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions. Freedom from religion does not mean being free from seeing religion in society. What freedom from religion does mean, however, is the freedom from the rules and dogmas of other people’s religious beliefs so that we can be free to follow the demands of our own conscience, whether they take a religious form or not. Thus, we have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion because they are two sides of the same coin. Real religious liberty must exist for everyone, not just one group. It’s no coincidence that people who object to the principle of “freedom from religion” are adherents of religious groups whose doctrines or standards would be the ones enforced by the state. Religious majorities do not have the human right to trample or infringe on the humans rights of minority beliefs including non-religious belief.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 27, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    So, it is a wonderful and glorious thing to step on the rights of the one who didn't want to have to violate her belief system by singing about God as long as those who believe are the ones doing the forcing.

    Do you not see the hypocrisy of celebrating religious freedom by taking it away from someone else?

    Read the comments on the story about the mosque in Utah Valley and then tell me how much religious freedom is respected in the US.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 27, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    Religious freedom also means that those who are from a different belief system or no belief system at all have the freedom to NOT have your version shoved in their faces.

    Joggle said it very well.

  • Ett Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    Under our Constitution, religion isn't a "human" right, it's an individual right. Human makes reference to people in toto. Not all countries recognize the exact same rights of people as others, so the whole concept is ludicrous. It's just a liberal invention from the sixties.
    As to establishing a religion, the lawsuit was frivolous. Singing a song that may allude to the existence of God no more establishes a religion than Puff, the Magic Dragon establishes a species.
    Ms. Bauchman had to be aware of the song's tradition. She sued to make a name for herself. I commend Judy Eror's actions. By virtue of the lawsuit itself, Rachel Bauchman imposed on the rights of the rest of the choir. She was not required to join. When you join a student activity, it will have rules, regulations and traditions. If you don't want to consent to these, you don't join. It is the height of impudence to seek admission into such a group with the expectation they accede to your specific demands. The district and business leaders acted cowardly.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 27, 2013 8:25 a.m.

    The more you become willing to impose 'freedom of religion' on societal situations, the more you have to be willing to give that freedom to your worst enemy. The only way to make society work is to keep religion private.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 27, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    Re: "Singing a song that may allude to the existence of God no more establishes a religion than Puff, the Magic Dragon establishes a species."

    Hear, hear! Common sense will out!

    It'll be fought, tooth and nail, of course, by radicals and liberals, whose philosophies are based on the total absence of common sense, but, sooner or later, real people will scratch our heads and speak truth to power.

    Well done, Ett!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    Mr. Heilpern conveniently omits other details of the Bauchman case, such as compulsory group Christian prayers, and wraps the affair in the cloak of civil disobedience a la Rosa Parks, noble rebels standing up for the oppressed little guys. There are other interpretations. The singing of "Friends" was perhaps closer to George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, also stubbornly defying a court order, representing the dominant majority culture refusing to yield the slightest bit of hegemony to a minority. It was civil disobedience, too. Just not the kind we celebrate these days.

    Freedom is difficult enough in good times. It gets substantially tougher when different freedoms collide, when good values here conflict with good values there. Private firearms possession to inhibit state tyranny is good; so is living in a secure, safe society. How we negotiate those conflicts between rights is the key.

    Here is a timely challenge for Heilpern to test if his dedication to religious liberty is universal or selective. There are many mainstream Christian and Jewish denominations that recognize same-sex marriage, but are prevented from solemnizing them by government authority. Would he champion repeal of those laws so they can freely exercise their faith?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 27, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Re: ". . . denominations . . . recognize same-sex marriage, but are prevented from solemnizing them by government authority."

    Nice try. No cigar.

    There is NO denomination that recognizes same-sex marriage that is prevented by ANY level of American government from engaging in whatever ceremony it deems important. It can even call that ceremony "marriage, if it likes.

    It just can't stamp a government imprimatur on such a ceremony, over the objection of the majority who disagree with its tenets.

  • Terrie Bittner Warminster, PA
    June 27, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    It is important to remember that the Constitution does not mention separation of Church and State. Nor does it say the government has a responsibility to keep people from hearing God's name used respectfully. Court decisions have supported swearing as a "freedom of speech" issue, even though I find swearing offensive. To suggest that it is right to offend me by swearing but wrong for me to offend you by mentioning God creates atheism as the official state religion. (O'hare, as I recall, actually did register atheism as a religion.) What the First Amendment actually does is to prevent the establishment of an official religion and to keep the government from penalizing those who do not join the religion, attend meetings, or practice its tenants. It was never meant to exclusively protect atheists from having to be reminded that religion exists.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 27, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    @ Terri Bittner: Children in school are not allowed to swear. If the song in question had a vague reference to sex, it would not have been allowed to be performed at school.

    To argue that what happens in the general public sphere of a grocery store is equivalent to what happens in the government controlled sphere of a school ignores reality.

    @ procuradorfiscal: "It just can't stamp a government imprimatur on such a ceremony, over the objection of the majority who disagree with its tenets."

    And how is that not an example of the government favoring the tenets of some religions over the tenets of others?

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    I find it saddening that the lawsuit was dismissed. It is high time that a court ruled that a choir singing something is not a proactive affirmation of a view. Music should not be excluded on religious grounds from use by schools. This is to marginalize and demonize religion.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2013 2:16 p.m.

    Singing a song is not an infringement on people's rights. To ban the singing of a song by the government is to impose a restriction on speech.

    Religious groups can hold whatever commitment ceremonies they want and confer whatever status they want with them. The only thing they cannot do is give the inprint of marriage to a relationship that is not a marriage.

    I am reminded of a discussion along these lines in a class I had at BYU where a student mentioned their primarily LDS high school choir sang Ave Maria, a song that Mormons have no religious acceptance of. So if people can find it in themselves to sing songs they object to on religious grounds, how can it be problematic.

    The FFRF are bullies who hope to force others to bow to their will, mainly by targeting small organizations and getting out of court settlements. They are seeking to drive religion into the closest. Religion should not be grounds for excluding songs from schools.

    We would be a lot better off if religious was more discussed in school. Informed, balanced discussion of Islam in schools would certainly lessen wild-eyed hate-filled attacks on it.

  • Rapunzelthebrave The Great State of, TX
    June 27, 2013 3:57 p.m.

    I wonder how the LDS writer of the article would approach the story if the high school was predominantly Muslim and the choir had spontaneously burst into song on the holiness of Muhammed (PBUH)? What if the choir had spontaneously burst into song about God not existing? It's all well and good to defend people with whom you agree, but what about people with which you disagree?

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    June 27, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    Christianity is under attack in Obama's America. This is absolute and undeniable. As far as religious freedom goes, Obamacare will FORCE Christian org's to swallow abortion and homosexuality. So much for religious freedom ...at least in our Obama-nation.

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    June 27, 2013 5:12 p.m.

    Funny how some try to promote that Freedom of Religion can only exist if it's entirely removed from the public square. Freedom of Religion does not exist if I can only pray in my closet.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2013 6:42 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal: "...NO denomination ...is prevented by ANY level of American government from engaging in whatever ceremony it deems important. It can even call that ceremony "marriage, if it likes. It just can't stamp a government imprimatur on such a ceremony, over the objection of the majority who disagree with its tenets."

    A marriage is the one religious ceremony that has civil effect (a baptism won't get you a Social Security card, doncha know, and a eulogy doesn't constitute a death certificate). A priest or rabbi could indeed go through the motions of a same-sex wedding ceremony, but it would be pointless because the government prohibits the officiant from signing the legal certificate that validates the ceremony. The customary wedding ceremony concludes with, "And now, by the powers vested in me by the [governmental jurisdiction], I now pronounce you..." The power to declare the couple married comes from the state, not the deity. The state denies the officiant the ability to declare a same sex couple married, even if the deity allows it. That qualifies as an infringement on religious liberty by the very generous standards of the columnist.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    June 27, 2013 10:56 p.m.

    @Hutterite

    "The only way to make society work is to keep religion private."

    Same for sexual orientation, right? Just keep it private so society can work?

    @Lagomorph

    So we are supposed to take your word for it that your freedoms are being violated because you decide they are, and you also get to decide that our freedoms, (us religious folks), are not having our freedoms violated. Let me guess, 'some of your best friends are devout Mormons'. It doesn't cut it any more than "some of your best friends are (insert race here).'

    You clearly have not studied or considered what it means to be a devout religious person, and you certainly don't get to speak for those of us who are.

    Religious people do indeed need to stick up for themselves, together, as a group. Those who discriminate against us are very much banded together in their quest.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    June 28, 2013 5:08 a.m.

    Joggle

    I do not belong to any faith and agree that freedom of religion includes the right to not participate. However your comment: "It's no coincidence that people who object to the principle of "freedom from religion" are adherents of religious groups whose doctrines or standards would be the ones enforced by the state." is classic inaccurate passive/aggression. It is just as legitimately said that it is no coincidence that many people who advocate "freedom from religion" are inherently anti-speech and wish to use the state to impose their values onto everyone else. I am less concerned about religious people singing "friends" than I am the petty individuals who claim that they are traumatized by highway memorials in the shape of a cross and I find it fascinating that many "tolerant people" have no problem forcing their values onto Hobby Lobby or the Catholic church.

    "Freedom from religion" fundamentalists are arguably a more immediate threat to a pluralistic society than religious zealots are, and advocates for freedom of speech and tolerance, including religious people, should rightly oppose censorship and oppression

    Kalindra - the comparison of religious speech to swearing destroys all credibility

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 28, 2013 5:55 a.m.

    Joggle,
    No, you are wrong, at least if you give ANY credence to Thomas Jefferson. He wrote the religious freedom statutes to ensure religious expression HAD a place in the public forum.

    Kalindra,
    She didn’t have to sing – her rights were not violated,; rather, she and the ACLU were trying to trample the rights of the rest of the choir.

    Children in school are not allowed to swear – been to school lately?

    Hutterite,
    Read up on Thomas Jefferson

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    June 28, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    I remember those times. The schools were all nervous about any mention to religion. Phobic. I went to one school and I wanted to tell Polynesian stories. They asked, "Does it have anything about religion?" In Polynesian culture religion was part of the reality. Without any religious references, you would only talk about battles. So I told the school, "Yes they do." And so, of course, the school was not interested. People's hyper fear of any religious reference puts a clamp on any multiculturalism.

    Don't have a fit about being exposed to other cultural values. It will broaden your horizons. I have my religious views. Exposure to other religious views have broaden and opened up my viewpoint.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 28, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    How many people who tell us that we need freedom of religion or freedom from religion have read the 1st Amendment?

    Here it is:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Nothing prohibits a school from practicing religion. Congress is forbidden to interfere in religion. Schools are not "Congress". Members of a choir are not forbidden to worship publically or privately. If anything, the 1st Amendment's free speech clause encourages people to sing or pray or perform any way that they desire.

    Nothing in the 1st Amendment is said about freedom from religion.

    People twist "an establishment" to mean "the establishment". But even then, Congress cannot interfere with "an establishment" or "the establishment".

    There can be no government restriction on religion without violating the 1st Amendment.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 28, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    @Mike Richards;

    There's nothing in the First Amendment that says you can shove your religion down other American's throats either.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 28, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    @Ranchhand,

    The Constitution does not "give" us rights; it restricts the government from taking away our rights. We, the People, retain all rights EXCEPT those that we have enumerated in the Constitution as duties of the Federal Government. For example, the 2nd Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms even though Article 1, Section 8 lists several duties that the Federal Government has to protect the States against enemies.

    Those who look to South Africa's Constitution may think that rights come from the government. We know differently. Rights are bestowed on us by our Creator and he holds us responsible for using those rights properly. Government does not "bestow" rights.

    Anyone has the right to speak to you about religion. You can walk away. You can contest their message. You can reject the God that you preached on your mission, but anyone has the right to speak about religion. Only Congress is forbidden to change the doctrines of any establishment of religion.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    June 28, 2013 10:45 a.m.

    Okay, well, for starters, this silly article has completely misrepresented the Rachel Bauchman case. She was repeatedly told she had to participate in religious ceremonies offensive to her own beliefs as a class requirement. Sitting out was not an option available to her for the most part. She repeatedly tried to work with the teacher and school district, and only went to court as an absolute last resort. The facts of the case are readily available--too bad this author didn't consult them. Also, that whole kerfluffle took place in 1996--hardly a contemporary event.
    I'm all in favor of religious freedom. I spent most of my life as one of a tiny minority of Mormons in various midwestern and European towns. I'm all for reasonable accommodations to religion. Problems arise when a group that has been in the majority is suddenly told 'you're no longer allowed to discriminate.'

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    June 28, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    With all respect due to Eric, I don't think that he "gets" the Constitution. A school is not "an establishment of religion". Even if it were, Congress could not tell a school, acting as an establishment of religion, to change its "religion". Congress is prohibited from interferring with religion.

    Everything fails the "smell test". The government cannot prohibit public or private worship without violating the 1st Amendment.

    Even a very quick reading of the 1st Amendment shows "an establishment" not "the establishment". A student in junior high school could explain the difference between "an" and "the". It's not rocket science.

    Of course there are always those who pretend that the 1st Amendment says "the establishment of religion". Even there, they fall on their faces because, if it really said "the establishment of religion", then Congress would still be forbidden to stop or control "the establishment of religion".

    Instead of swatting at gnats, it's time to read the Constitution and to apply the Supreme Law of the Land as it is written, not as someone wishes that it had been written.

    We are free to worship without government interference - even if we worship while in school.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 28, 2013 12:34 p.m.

    @Badgerbadger: It's often useful in a discussion such as this for the second person to respond to the first person's actual words rather than speculating on what the first might have said. Otherwise you end up with non sequiturs, straw man arguments, and conjecture.

    "So we are supposed to take your word for it that your freedoms are being violated because you decide they are, and you also get to decide that our freedoms, (us religious folks), are not having our freedoms violated."

    Nope. I never claimed to be the ultimate authority. I expressed an opinion, which this forum is designed to facilitate. The columnist offered his opinion, I responded with an alternate view. Take both with the requisite grains of salt.

    "Let me guess, 'some of your best friends are devout Mormons'."

    Nope. Never would make such a claim even if true. It's counterfeit empathy in the same way that "I apologize if anyone was offended..." is a counterfeit apology.

    "...and you certainly don't get to speak for those of us who are."

    Again, I never claimed to.

    @Eric Samuelson: Agreed. But telling the full story would undercut the martyrdom theme.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 28, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    To "RanchHand" if you don't like it when Christians speak or show outwardly their religion, why do you jump on the bandwagon when the Secular Humanists (athiests) push their religion on us?

    Why do we have to accept athiesim as a state religion for the country? Why can't we have the 10 commandments put in public places, or a statue of Jesus or a cross on public land? Is that any different than purging all religion from public view and practicing athiesm when in public?

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    June 28, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    I've read up on Rachel Bauchman thanks to the comment board. It should be noted that the 10th Circuit that had issued the injunction eventually ruled that her Constitutional rights had not been violated.

    In her own description she states that the school chose to sing a couple of Jewish songs to honor her religion -- and she found even that offensive. It's not that difficult to be offended if you decide you want to be.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 28, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    @ Lost in DC: Actually, if you read the case, you will see that she was not given the option of sitting out the Spring performance.

    And, yes, I have been in a school lately - you can get detection for swearing and possible suspension for repeated offenses.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    June 29, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    to patriot June 27

    "Christianity is under attack in Obama's America..."

    Such as?

    to GiuseppeG June 27

    "Freedom of Religion does not exist if I can only pray in my closet."

    What about Matthew 6:6?

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    June 29, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    @GK --

    GiuseppeG : "Freedom of Religion does not exist if I can only pray in my closet."

    GK: "What about Matthew 6:6?"

    That's a wonderful passage. Thanks for mentioning it! :-)

    For those who are wondering:

    "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. " Matthew 6:5-6

    We do seem to have a bit of conspicuous religion going on, don't we?

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    June 29, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    to Contrarius

    You are welcome. It just seemed so relevant.

    Are a good number of the religious touting their beliefs as a means to massage their ego? . That IMO is worse than being a hypocrite.

  • Lefty 21 Redlands, CA
    June 30, 2013 2:47 a.m.

    How American is that to divide the people because of differences rather than unite despite differences? But that's what many People do in this country now for fame or for a settlement.

    And furthermore if we excluded studying of art because of religious influence there wouldn't be much art to study. With music you don't study by looking at some music you study by learning about it, and playing or singing it. What a foolish notion that we can't study art that references God. You would discount all sorts of music, literature, and visual arts such as the ceiling in the Sistine chapel.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    July 1, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    to RedShirt on June 28

    **To "RanchHand" if you don't like it when Christians speak or show outwardly their religion, why do you jump on the bandwagon when the Secular Humanists (athiests) push their religion on us?**

    When christians who lack moderation try to buffalo the rest of us into thinking this is a christian Nation that the idiocy (on both sides) begins. This nation was founded on Judeo-christian values. Big difference.

    Secular Humanism & Atheism are 2 different concepts. Philosophies, if you will, NOT organized religions. Again, big difference.

    The Wall mentioned by Thomas Jefferson is his letter to the Danbury Baptists works both ways.