Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nicolas Shump: Thoughts on Freedom

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nicolas Shump: Thoughts on Freedom

Article excerpt

Having celebrated another July 4th, my thoughts turn to the meaning behind the holiday and the notion of freedom. What exactly do we or should we celebrate on Independence Day?

Naturally, our military and the men and women who have served and do serve in our armed forces, come to mind when thinking about freedom. Though I have never served in the military, I have family members who have and I cannot but feel a sense of pride and gratitude for our soldiers and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.

Certainly one of the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted is the freedom of expression. Having taught courses in comparative politics and globalization, I am well aware of the tremendous political and civic latitude we enjoy in the United States. The ability to criticize our leaders, even the president, is something many other nations do not possess.

The recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage has seemingly ushered in yet another freedom for a segment of our population that has faced discrimination, marginalization and worse in U.S. society for a number of years.

At the same time, the decision leaves unanswered the question of how religious communities will have to deal with it. Among the most pressing question for these groups is whether they will be required to perform same-sex marriages for couples seeking to be married in their synagogues, churches, mosques and other places of worship.

There are important moral and legal issues at stake. One of the fundamental freedoms granted by the Constitution is the freedom to practice religion without hindrance. The actual text reads, "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Is it possible this right will find itself at odds with the recent ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges? The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel referred to this as a "tragedy," noting "Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. …

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