Religious freedom is not a one-way street. It is not a one-sided issue. There is individual freedom and there is group freedom. There is national freedom. The proper balance of these has never been identified in the mainstream or by the mundane powers.
The RLCC (Real Liberal Christian Church) holds against coercion on all levels. No individual or group ought to force or attempt to force any individual or group to believe, teach, practice, worship, or otherwise observe any particular religion.
However, we see nations attempting to force other nations into giving more weight to smaller groups and down to individuals at the expense, in the eyes of some nations, of national or tribal (extended-family) unity. The question becomes, what right is it of any nation to interfere?
We must say here that Jesus did not coerce. He warned people about the spirit that does and will coerce though. Jesus made clear that if you don't want to be found deserving of punishment or lacking merit to escape punishment, don't coerce. Rather, speak the truth and do it (act consistently with it).
This whole concept of religious freedom is made all the more difficult considering the term religion. What constitutes religion, per se, is only vaguely understood and hence only vaguely defined. Is religion confined to spiritual matters, or may the belief systems of those who don't believe there is such a thing as spirit also be considered religious belief systems for purposes of the law?
So, we have questions concerning individuals, groups, and even whole nation-states. We also have the question of what constitutes religion. Add to these that the concept of freedom itself is grey at best under the law.
The RLCC holds that freedom is being free from evil. Even here, Jesus referred to the yoke that is inherent in righteousness. It is light, but it exists. There is no escaping restraint. God is ultimately restrained. Satan is ultimately restrained. The idea of absolute unrestraint is a non-starter. Unrestraint must always be qualified. It always falls within a context. There are always consequences. Unrestraint is known only in relative terms. There is no absolute unrestraint. God has the power to set things right of course, but that's bringing them back to truth that is self-restraint from doing evil. This must though be understood within the largest context in which God's perfection is not even tempted by evil. The effort to not fall to evil is effortless on the perfect plane. Evil temptations are not evidenced on that plane even while God is fully aware of evil. This is an irreconcilable paradox for many. They can't wrap their minds around it, so to speak. They can't grasp it. They can't grasp the revelation or language of Jesus Christ.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes the freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." — Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching." — Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
"The Commission [United States Commission on International Religious Freedom] has been concerned about the particularly dire conditions affecting non-Muslims in Iraq, including Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, Yazidis, and other minority religious communities, who face widespread violence from Sunni insurgents and foreign extremists, as well as pervasive violence, discrimination, and marginalization at the hands of the national government, regional governments, and para-state militias, including those in Kurdish areas. The Commission also concluded that Iraq's government was failing to curb the growing scope and severity of other religious-freedom violations."
Now, the U.S. invaded Iraq and now occupies it. It set the laws of Iraq via decree from Washington. It went into Iraq under the guise of preventing WMD's and to liberate the people; however, it has not treated Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the law of the land. Why not? The U.S. is signatory. Iraq was signatory. The answer is that the U.S. (George W. Bush administration) never had any intention of delivering what it sold.
Countries of Particular Concern (CPC's), to the CIRF, commit or tolerate severe and egregious violations according to the CIRF:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
Countries on the CIRF's watch list:
Now, the issue is one of pointing out where coercion is most prevalent against smaller groups and down to individuals. However, the countries cited will counter with arguments pointing to their perceived need for law and order, cohesion, self-determination, non-interference, etc. These too are questions of freedom.
The U.S. will often move to sanctions and ask other nations to join in with such in order to further what the U.S. desires to see (it thinks). This though is antichrist.
Choosing not to partake of something is not necessarily motivated out of a spirit to punish others or to coerce them.
THE DOOR-TO-DOOR SALESMAN
I had a fellow come to the door marketing magazines. He was trained to couch it as a sales contest, which no doubt it was. He was trained to use hard-sell techniques and rapidly as possible to overcome all anticipated objections even before the potential customer raised any. He gave an extremely fast-paced delivery. He planted as many "positive" seeds as possible in the shortest time, even going so far as to say people say yes even though they don't want any magazines just to help him because they say they like his personality. Well, the truth be told, he was obnoxious. His personality was all about self.
I explained to him that there was a bigger picture to consider including environmental (which is everything really — matter and spirit), but he would have none of it. I also explained that I was in no financial position to help (the absolute truth). It would have been immoral of me to help him with what he was doing and for whom he was doing it and why at that time. I have prior, proper commitments that conflict with his agenda. He would have none of that either. He said I could help, because I'm not living in a little shack and I have a laptop. He said people without anything live in little shacks.
Well, of course we know that's not true. Plenty of people (millions) were/are living in what most would consider fine homes on over-leveraged terms. Now they have been foreclosed or may soon be. They had nothing to give, because they reached too much for self. They were encouraged to do it by fast-talking, hard-sell types, with spiels designed to terminate long-term considerations and to rather go for instant gratification and such, to everyone's peril, even those at the very top of the Ponzi scheme (pyramid), the world bankers such as David Rockefeller.
Now that just shows where the capitalist system takes people. It took this young man and worked him over so that he viewed his job as getting people to give to him for him regardless of any other considerations. It taught him to attempt to make others feel guilty where they ought not to feel guilty and to give sympathy to the self-centered who reject even considering balancing out individual wants with the real, higher-priority needs of others. He wanted to win a trip to Europe. I want to feed the hungry.
So, I didn't partake of the magazine marketing come-on. I wasn't boycotting them or sanctioning them or their door-to-door salesman. I wasn't of the spirit to punish them or him or to coerce them or him. I suggested to him that he ought to get a different job (one more environmentally sound). He bridled at that saying, "Why should I get another job. I love this job?" I told him that a good salesperson learns how to accept rejection.
He left with the words, "Jesus loves you." He wielded those words as a battle axe designed to wound me. It was his way of saying that I had not done the Christian thing by saying yes to him. Little does he know how wrong he is. However, he is "free" to be wrong.
The U.S. though when it doesn't want to partake doesn't stop there. It goes on to boycott, sanction, and coerce (sometimes murder; war). It insists that what it deems freedom will be followed by the world or else.
We say there is a better way and that's Jesus's way. Jesus spoke and did the truth and then let it be. The U.S. doesn't let it be. It doesn't speak or do the truth.
So, while we want the nations named above to turn also to non-coercion, we will not use coercion to get them to do it, because that's impossible. It introduces nothing but hypocrisy. We won't partake of their belief systems, because they are coercive; however, we won't boycott them or sanction them, etc. That's not our spirit. That's not from where we come.
Is this a fine line too fine to see? No, it is not too fine to see. It stands out clearly and plainly once we slow down from the hard- and fast-sell.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)