Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A two-way street...

Macsmind's disclaimer on his blog warrants some comment. It seems my earlier post might have been misinterpreted.

I am not asking him - or anyone - to compromise their faith or principles. One's decision to affiliate with a particular religion (or no religion at all) is a highly personal matter - it's how one views their relationship with God. It's something the Founders of this country (many of them religious men) enshrined as the first freedom they protected. As a country, we have decided that there should be no interference with a person's religious beliefs so long as it is not harming another person.

This is one reason I had to take issue with his post that used of the picture of the Shiite pilgrims. There is another reason as well. The United States government, as well as numerous bloggers on the right, have been highly critical of the Afghan government's decision to put a man on trial for converting to Christianity from Islam. I'm not thrilled with any government putting someone to death on the basis of what church he goes to. But how can we credibly ask the Afghan government to respect religious freedom - namely, a person's right to convert to Christianity from Islam, when there is no respect for a decision to continue practicing Islam (or any other faith) from our end? This is not exactly an abstract matter for me - I had ancestors who were the subject of an extermination order in the state of Missouri about 170 years ago.

It's about being consistent. It's why I have commented on the selective outrage of Isaac Hayes. It's why I have a hard time buying calls from tolerance from the same people who refuse to show tolerance for the beliefs of Catholic Charities and the Boy Scouts of America. Are we willing to practice what we preach, even when we disagree with how they worship? There was once a saying, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." For matters of religion, also protected by the First Amendment, the same standard should be a no-brainer.

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