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    Religious Freedom
    in the New Millennium

    Living Our Faiths in Our Modern Pluralistic Society
    by TorahMan

    Nothing is more difficult than living in our religious, ideological and political pluralistic society. People have many different causes and ideas that they are willing to die for and defend. Likewise, people have causes they are willing to kill for, as is evident by the terrorism in the Middle East. The issue then arises, how do we, as a people of varying belief systems, live in peace, where no one is agreed?

    I guess I should state my biases, because I believe we all have them. I am a Christian. I believe Yah'shua (the Hebrew Name for Jesus) is the only way to Heaven, that ALL true Christians are required to keep Yahweh's (God's) commandments (including both His ceremonial and moral laws, as outlined in the New Covenant Torah -- the Torah that Messiah introduced), and that if you break His moral laws, including acting out on homosexuality, adultery, etc., you will go to Hell. Is this narrow-minded? You bet it is. Beliefs discriminate. My belief or disbelief in the law of gravity doesn't change it, does it? Neither does absolute truth. Since I believe I have absolute truth, to do otherwise to me would be to defy the law of gravity. And I am no different from the man who believes democracy is the best form of government and discriminates against other government systems. Nor am I any different than the woman who believes that the only "god" is the "almighty qumquat" sitting on her kitchen table. The question we should always ask ourselves is what the basis for our beliefs is? And are they based upon reason? I could certainly provide you valid reasons for believing the things I do.

    Since many of us do have valid reasons for the things we believe (and some of us don't), how do we live together with such varying beliefs? My belief system compels me to tell you your need for Messiah. Your belief system might encompass all beliefs. This essay isn't a moral discussion based upon who is necessarily right or wrong, but our relations to one another when we simply cannot agree. Even though I think you are going to Hell doesn't mean I take away your power to freely choose (although I am sure some "cult deprogrammers" would think my liberal dropping of the word "Hell" has taken away your freedom of choice -- they have their own loaded terms). But you know something I think is different about me? I try to listen. I try to understand. And I think we all need to have that same compassion. I also try to respect your freedom to choose not to listen to me. Its entirely up to you. And while I do not think I am the ultimate epitome of perfection, these are attributes I try to encourage in others -- the ability to honestly hear things out and honestly reason whether or not I am in the truth. I think the power of an enquiring mind is definently a gift Yahweh (God) has given to us. Afterall, doesn't the Bible say, "Seek and ye shall find"?

    However, secular psychologists and cult "deprogrammers" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) highly doubt your ability to reason and come to logical conclusions yourself. And while I'll admit many people do make foolish decisions based upon psychological and emotional manipulation (I think the Mormon system of making members "commit" to certain doctrinal practices without giving the full picture a tad "controlling"), how many of us actually stick around when we have analyzed all the facts and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what we are doing isn't beneficial to our survival? I'll hand the evolutionists this much -- we are a selfish race (although I'll credit this to the Fall). And when we realize we are going to lose out, we don't stick around, do we?

    This is precisely why I believe as I do -- because I believe I'll lose out if I don't believe what I do. Now if facts were presented me to prove otherwise, I would easily recant my beliefs for the truth. But then I would have to see the facts from every angle, both pro and con, conservative, moderate and liberal. I know many atheistic arguments and have heard the Christian counter-arguments and logically speaking, the Christian counter-arguments seem to hold up. For example, atheists will try to tell me there is no God because of "x" factor. And yet how do they know? Do they have all knowledge? Can they count all the sand on the Florida coastline? How do they know in all their evidence (which is less than even a millionth of 1%, I am sure, of all the knowledge that can be had) that they're not lacking the very evidence that proves there's a God? They need all knowledge to disprove God, I only need a handful of knowledge to prove that there is one. Absolute statements imply absolute knowledge.

    Atheism is simply a belief. If many of them were intellectually honest, they would consider themselves "agnostic" because they simply don't know. And yet, they try to argue that this complex universe comes from nothing. Do watches come from nothing? Do paintings? You would think I was absurd to suggest they do, and yet something as intricate and complicated as our Universe, from the sun to the fine details and mechanations of the human eye, which work together so perfectly in harmony, is suppose to be a product of chance? Why don't we take it to its logical conclusion: design equals designer. If a watch can't form itself due to its complexity, who's to say the Universe, which is even more complex, can?

    And yet I will defend their right to believe whatever they want. This is the only way I can maintain my freedom to believe as I do in my pluralistic society. Call me selfish. My motives are free for all to see. I have nothing to hide regarding this issue. I just want to be left alone so I can practice my religion as I choose and to raise my children as I choose. It all boils down to choice, really. Who is the "liberal" one? The atheist who tells me I must accept their dogma or else? Or is it me who states while I disagree with your lifestyle and definently do not approve, I will give you the freedom to live it so long as you don't trample on my rights to do the same?

    In fact, I am convinced that secular society is the biggest "cult" there is. For years, I was subject to the public schooling system. I was threatened with punishment if I didn't meet up to the rules and was even told I couldn't leave until I became an adult. And even then, I was considered a "neurotic" if I considered leaving without a high school diploma (something which I did obtain). When I was a grown adult and still in high school, I was given a detention for exercising my free choice to skip school to help a friend in need. And you are the ones that are telling me I am in a cult? I was in severe depression. I went to a psychologist only to have my desires of being home-schooled shunned. I knew it was right for me. But when I expressed an interest in "unrealistic" subjects such as theology, philosophy, Greek and Hebrew (how many really want to know these things?), I was denied my heart's desire. And yet if I were to take an atheist, strap him in a chair and indoctrinate him in Christian theology, it would be considered "brain washing."

    And yet your cult deprogrammers do the same thing. Rick Ross use to do that, but quit doing so because of the court fees, by his own admission. However, I'm sure if they were given the chance, they would go right back to it. And it would probably be permitted. Why? Because the religion of "atheism", which I think is just as illogical as you accuse us "Christians" of being, is the religion that holds sway. I am sure we would all be bowing to Islam right now if it was the main religion. It is an issue of who's in power. And right now, its becoming illegal for me to hold a certain belief. How would you like to be imprisoned for being an atheist?

    Your faith is based upon the supposition that there is no God. Mine is based upon the knowledge that there is. I don't know everything about Him, but if you expect to tear me down, you will have to prove the unproveable. It is the equivalent to me of locking someone up for believing there's a sun -- its evident to those of us who can see. It shines in the sky as a crystal-clear sign for all but the blind. The only thing you can do is disprove that which I believe but think is true. You can't disprove God for I know He's true. How I know is irrelevant. You'd probably lock me up anyway if I told you. This is your problem, not mine. It is not my fault you only choose to percieve things within the realm of your senses (which aren't always correct either -- how many times have you been "in love" only to find out your senses were leading you astray? And especially when your eyes play tricks on you, such as optical illusions -- how do you know the reason you don't see a God is because of one cosmic optical illusion?). I guess DNA strands, dust particles and water molecules are a recent development, right? Since they couldn't be percieved until we had the technology to percieve them? When will you percieve a God?

    Again, you can't take from me what's self-evident, no matter how much you try to indoctrinate me or medicate me otherwise. So how will we live together? Inevitably we must. Therefore, we need house rules. These are my recommendations -- I am open to hearing your's:

      1. Allow me to practice my religion and bring my children up in said religion so long as there is no physical harm to others. I will permit you the same right.

      2. I will allow people to believe as they will so long as they are not physically harming others. I expect the same from you.

      3. Emotional harm is described as co-ercing someone to believe what they've already expressed a desire not to. Sincere pleading is a different matter. I am sure you would plead with your spouse if they threatened to leave you. I will sincerely plead with people if I think they are in great distress. However, I ultimately must realise their right to choose and nothing should be done to take away this right. If I (or you) hold someone against their will and don't allow them free choice in the end, this would be seen as a violation of this rule.

      4. Likewise, remove the loaded language as much as possible without compromising your beliefs. And also realize we are human. You may say I am co-ercing people against their will because I use the word "Hell". You co-erce people against their will to form an opinion about me by saying I am in a "cult". Why am I in a cult? Can you tell me why I am in one using simple logic? Personally I think looking forward to "non-existence" at death is a self-defeating philosophy. It would probably cause me to commit suicide if I had such a belief because I have nothing to look forward to (and I have believed in such things). You say I am causing the person with homosexual tendencies to do the same by calling his lifestyle a sin. We need to agree to disagree. If the one practicing homosexuality doesn't want to hear how his lifestyle is a sin, he has the freedom to shun me. But if he does, I have the freedom to tell him. Likewise, I have the freedom to criticize anything, so long as it is done constructively and logically (and you -- the atheist -- don't define "logic" -- logic speaks for itself). You can do the same with my beliefs. I give you the same freedom to do as I want to do. This is called "The Golden Rule". Critical inquiry is neccessary in arriving at truth, although truth is truth no matter what conclusions we come to. But in the end, we must realize that all language is loaded and where it causes misperceptions, we must come out and discuss them one-on-one.

    These are just a few of the recommendations I can come to. To be honest, I feel like I am compromising. But if we continue doing things the way we are doing them, we will only kill each other. So you can believe I am a "basket case" and try to tell me why constructively and I can believe you are on your way to Hell and try to do so constructively. In the end, if we agree to disagree, we can at least live peaceably, knowing the other is free to practice the same without fear of harm.

    This is all it boils down to. I am willing to listen to you and your concerns and desires and beliefs. Are you willing to listen to mine?

    This page was created on 4 October 2009
    Last updated on 4 October 2009

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