Religious Freedom

I had some discussions recently about what religious liberty is and why it is important. I was amazed at how quickly people were willing to have up religious liberty, not in the name of anything good, but in the name of feeling comfortable.

This started after the Satanic Temple bought a temporary statue to a rally. It was of Baphomet. This isn’t there first time that they’ve presented it. It likely won’t be the last. I was asked how I could support such an action.

My answer is simple. If we allow religious groups to put up monuments on government property, then we allow religious groups to put up monuments. Sounds simple enough. But I soon discovered that people don’t like it when someone wants to put up something they disagree with.

Here is where I stand. I don’t think a statue of Baphomet belongs outside a government building. But I also don’t believe a cross or the Ten Commandments belong either. This is what most people have trouble with. Am I saying they are the same? Only in that each is a religious symbol. Should I be offended by it? I’m more offended by Christians seeking preferential treatment by the government. I have no desire to get my religious beliefs endorsed by the government.

All I want is the freedom to follow Christ. But I’m not a fool. I know that if I decide that I’m the only one who deserves that right, that soon none will have the right. So I believe in preserving everyone’s right to worship freely. It really is that simple for me.

“But it is a statue of Satan!”

My response is simply “and?” Like I said, I don’t think it belongs there. But that’s the point there Satanic Temple is making. If it doesn’t belong there, does any specifically religious imagery belong? I don’t believe it does. That’s the point they make when they being the statue out. It’s made to make people’s understand their own hypocrisy. People don’t like it because it offends them. Not because of anything else, but because it offends their faith. That goes both ways though. The point they are making is “if you don’t like this thing because it isn’t part of your faith, how do you think people outside your faith feel?”

When we decide to treat others as we expect to be treated, we quickly see the problem isn’t that they too would like to be represented. The problem is that we should not want the government picking which religions are OK.

“But they worship Satan? How can you be OK with that?”

Again, I’m only OK with it to the extent that I don’t want the government telling me how to worship or where I can worship. I only want protection do that all can worship freely and feel that the government protects all faiths equally. My freedom is only as good as my neighbor’s freedom. If I want people to discover the merciful God that I love, they must be free to do so.

Having understood the mission of the Satanic Temple, I think there is a large amount of disgust over their name. It isn’t really about their beliefs, as most people don’t know what their beliefs are. People get angry over the name. Because it offends them, they want it to go away.

Too often Christians want that preferential treatment. Too often we would sit idly by and not care about the rights of others as long as our rights are OK at the moment. Too often we get more worked up over a bronze statue than we do about injustices perpetrated by our own government. Too often we paint our neighbor’s of different faiths as an “other” to be feared and kept from having our same freedoms.

My fear is that the statue works because Christians fall into the trap of being hypocritical. People see it and wonder how genuine our faith can be if we’re not going to treat others as we expect to be treated. And we you’re people away because we want to protect ourselves only.

If you don’t want a Baphomet statue on government property, fight to have all religions monuments moved. If you don’t want statues that go against your faith put up outside a court house, don’t expect your own to be there either. For the sake of Christ’s love, fight for those whose voice isn’t heard. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to know more about the God that loves justice, the God that loves his people, when they experience that love and compassion through his followers.

I don’t need the Ten Commandments posted by the government, because God’s word is already written on my heart.

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