Does America Still Believe in the Right to Be Wrong?

The whole idea of a free society is based on a very simple idea that is very hard to live by: People have the right to be wrong.

.. In the “modern” era, its status as one of the defining ideas of Western civilization can be traced to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. After a century of bloody religious wars between Catholics and Protestants — with Jews often getting caught in the crossfire — the exhausted rulers of Europe reluctantly agreed to a fragile truce. While every nation would still officially follow the faith of the ruler, it was understood that religious minorities would be afforded some tolerance.

.. Cromwell’s Puritan-dominated parliament declared a real “war on Christmas,” banning celebration of the holiday. The Colonial city of Boston followed a similar practice, imposing a fine on anyone who celebrated Christmas.

.. If he thought he could get away with it, he would have made mandatory compliance with his faith the law of the land. But Cromwell recognized that he had to compromise with reality if he was going to end the religious conflicts plaguing his country.

.. The religious conflicts of the past were ultimately about which values, rituals, customs, and ideas should be imposed on everybody.

.. We are a long way off from putting beliefs of the mind to the judgment of the sword, but that is the logical destination of the path we are on, because we have lost faith in the utility of upholding the right to be wrong.

Muslims, Christians, & Religious Liberty

“There has been this tendency to racialize Muslims,” he noted, “for Muslims to adopt this civil rights discourse for themselves and clearly that has moral traction because if you can think of yourself as the newest group that’s been stigmatized then you can use the language of civil rights, which has a lot of currency. But that has theological implications because Muslim is not a race, it’s a set of beliefs that you subscribe to.”

.. As Russell Moore has stated clearly, a government powerful enough to deny a Muslim congregation the right to build a mosque is a government powerful enough to deny the same to Christians. When you defend the right to religious liberty for Muslims, you are defending the same for Christians. I would even say it’s to the strategic advantage of Christians to have Muslims in their corner, precisely because the liberal establishment doesn’t like going up against minorities of which they approve.

.. If the left is eager to protect the rights of Muslims to live as Muslims outside of the mosque, then it needs to come to terms with the fact that this means Christians are covered by the same principles. And if the right is eager to protect its own freedom of religion, it had better not let daylight get between itself and Muslims on this issue.

.. I am amazed at Christians who say stuff like “We cannot allow them to get established here because they will take over and set up a caliphate”. Do they not realize that this is basically what people with Christianophobia say about us. They will use that same reasoning to justify the removal of our religious freedom.

.. People with Christianophobia tend to be white, wealthy, highly, educated and male. In other words they are very powerful and well connected.

Why Baptists Should Support Muslims’ Right to Build Mosques

Some at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) called for the firing of any SBC official who supported the rights of Muslims to build mosques, and they recommended the removal of the ERLC’s name from the amicus brief. Some even went so far as to posit that Muslims do not deserve the same religious freedoms as Christians.

.. Those Baptists continuing to oppose Moore should take time to consider the history of their spiritual forefathers.

.. While today we tend to think of America as the world’s beacon for religious liberty, a city on a hill, 17th- and 18th-century Baptists would have begged to differ. In the colonies, Baptist rejection of infant baptism was considered abhorrent by the established churches. To Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, this deviation from tradition was demonic and divisive.

.. Baptists endured harassment, including, fines, prohibition against their services, flogging, and even jail time. Massachusetts outlawed Baptists altogether in 1645, calling them “the troublers of churches in all places.” As a result of the government’s response, much of the populace developed a distinct hostility toward the Baptists.

.. This motivated many Baptists, and other non-Protestant minorities, to remain loyal to England throughout the American Revolution. It was hard to support a rebellion for “equality” of representation when many of the revolutionaries didn’t regard Baptists as religious equals. Baptists’ loyalist leanings only brought them further political animosity.

.. John Adams even told Backus that a shift in the solar system was more likely than an end to the established church of Massachusetts. Thus, persecution against Baptists endured throughout the American Revolution. They continued to be taxed to support the established churches but received none of the revenue for themselves (a.k.a. taxation without representation).

.. They preferred to depend upon the power of God, rather than government, to accomplish the purposes of the church.

.. Backus noted that religion was “a voluntary obedience unto God which therefore force cannot promote.”

.. Everyone, including Muslims, is made in the image of God, possessing inherent dignity that is expressed in and through human capacity to hold sincere religious beliefs.

.. The hypocrisy of those who criticize interfaith alliances for common purposes, like the alliance in the New Jersey mosque case, is that while they accuse such coalitions of putting politics before God, their underlying motive is to use the government to bolster and secure the faith of their choice. In reality, they are dishonoring the Baptist tradition of religious liberty established by those before them. What’s more, their position is short-sighted. Given the present shift in American demographics, it might not be too long before the Baptists are once again a powerless minority.

Video: Religious Liberty Includes Muslims Too

Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore knocks it out of the park when a fellow pastor asks him why on earth Christians should not oppose letting Muslims build mosques. It’s only a 2 1/2 minute clip, but it’s astonishing. The reader who sent that to me, a Catholic, writes:

This is amazing!. Why don’t more Christians—including Catholic bishops—learn how to speak this way?

I don’t fully agree with Moore on immigration, but he really is becoming thespokesman for many of us conservative, orthodox Christians in America. I can’t think of a single other figure from any tradition who comes close.

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