How Religion Fosters Freedom; Point of View; in a World of Competing Freedoms, Religious Liberty Must Take Precedence; OTHER VIEWS

By Campbell, Colleen Carroll | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 21, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

How Religion Fosters Freedom; Point of View; in a World of Competing Freedoms, Religious Liberty Must Take Precedence; OTHER VIEWS


Campbell, Colleen Carroll, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Today begins the U.S. Catholic bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom," a two-week period of prayer and social action organized in response to President Barack Obama's contraception mandate. Rallies and prayer vigils for religious liberty are planned in nearly 100 dioceses across America. If the virtual blackout of last month's anti-mandate lawsuits is any indication, though, national media coverage of these events may be scant and tinged with cynicism.

Driving that cynicism is the view that the Catholic bishops and their theologically conservative, morally traditional religious allies in this struggle are the last ones anyone should expect to find fighting for freedom. Freedom, after all, is the rallying cry for nearly every fashionable cause these groups typically oppose, from the "freedom to marry," "freedom to choose" and "freedom to die," to the freedom to watch pornography without restriction and to get birth control and morning-after pills without cost. How could the religious leaders accused most often of trying to restrict personal freedom - in particular, personal sexual freedom - be genuine defenders of liberty?

If freedom is defined merely as the license to do what you like - including reshaping social institutions and laws to maximize individual sexual autonomy - the notion of religious authorities as champions of freedom is indeed a hard sell. But if we take a more expansive view of freedom - one embraced by, say, our Founding Fathers - that notion makes more sense. And it becomes clear why religious liberty deserves its historic place as our "first freedom," one that warrants greater deference than the endlessly proliferating new freedoms currently in vogue.

Religion merits the first and most prominent mention in our First Amendment because America's Founders recognized what too many of its contemporary citizens have forgotten: that religion serves as our best bulwark against a totalitarian state. The transcendent perspective of religion - and, specifically, of the Judeo-Christian tradition that offered theological context for our founding documents - has reminded us from the earliest days of our republic that our rights come from God, not government; that partisan politics and political demagogues do not deserve our highest loyalty; and that laws must respect the inherent dignity of the person, including his freedom of conscience, to be legitimate.

From the abolition movement of the 18th and 19th centuries to the civil-rights movement of the 1960s and the pro-life cause today, religious views and voices have fueled the most powerful social reforms in our nation's history.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

How Religion Fosters Freedom; Point of View; in a World of Competing Freedoms, Religious Liberty Must Take Precedence; OTHER VIEWS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?