On religious freedom

We regard religious freedom as one of the core human freedoms. Most developed states grant the freedom to choose and practice a religion. I believe that there is no state which takes this right as serious as the United States of America. After all, it was the reason why the first pilgrims boarded the Mayflower and set ship to new shores.

The current discussion about religious freedom centers on Christianity. Christianity with all its denominations is the largest religious community of the United States and the world. Most questions concern the right to abortion (which most practicing Christians denounce as against Gods will), same-sex marriage (same argumentation) or the identity of the United States as a Christian nation, “God bless America”, “shining city upon a hill” and what not.

Certainly, as with most modern western nations, Christianity was the foremost influence on law, constituion and ethical believes. But aren´t we developed past this point? Can´t we accept that there are people with a different set of believes, who want to pray 5 times a day or wear a Hijab? We were able to accept Judaism. We were able to accept Christians of different denominations before that.

I believe that this is a gradual process which will take some time. The discussion on Islam is a current hot topic. In Germany, the right-wing nationalists of the AfD party gained access to states parliaments with 10–20% of voters on a single topic anti-islam platform. In France, the ultranationalist Front National stepped away from anti-semitism and general racism to embrace the en-vogue hate against Islam. And in the USA, Donald Trump with his plans to stop islamic immigration in total became the de-facto presidential nominee for the Republican Party. Those movements take us decades back in the general acceptance of the muslim faith. Even when George Bush waged war with Iraq and Afghanistan, he always declared that this is a war on terrorism, not a war on faith. But the times have changed.

We have to accept radical islamic terrorism as seperate from muslim faith. There are more than a billion muslims in the world. Less than 1% of them are radicals. There is no other group that is as widely hated for 1% of their members, or perceived members.

A second current topic in religious freedom for me is a general acceptance of Atheism as faith. Atheists are not widely regarded as being protected by the constitutional articles on religious freedom.

A libertarian or an anarchist worldview is widely regarded as political, but both of those want less government, less politics, or none at all anymore. Atheists are similar, as they want less or no religion in their life, and religion to not interfere with politics. The acceptance of same-sex marriage, the right to abortion should be viewed as discussions of “faith vs. faith”, not politics vs. faith, or just the people defending their religion.

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