Friday, April 25, 2008

Negative VS Positive Religious Liberty

In my recent rereading of The Virtue Of War (1) [A book I highly recommend to all], certain concepts were noted by me that I had missed during earlier readings: That of "Negative Religious Liberty" and "Positive Religious Liberty". I suggest that the recent political, academic and media debates, as to the question of the place of religion in the USA, would be better understood if all understand those concepts.

"Negative Religious Liberty" means, in today's world, that no one should be harmed for what they believe (Including "moral" imperatives") or rituals practiced and statements made as to Faith---As long as such are kept out of public forums and NOT considered in voting for candidates or making public policies. This is the "liberal" or "secular humanist" position or standard which, of course, excludes religion-based "moral" choices (eg As to politics, abortion, war and other like and "hot" topics) as are likely to be in opposition to those held by "liberals" or "humanists" from even being considered by the general pubic, law makers, judges, ETC.. (This is, of course, the current and perverted interpretation of the first part of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the so-called "separation clause"!)

"Positive Religious Liberty" supports the full "free exercise of religion" (The second clause of the First Amendment) by allowing, if not encouraging, "Believers" to proclaim the tenets and practices of their religions in ALL forums; But, also and more importantly for this discussion, to have the ethical, moral and faith-based aspects of religions be accounted as valid issues and frameworks for voting and other public decision making.

I hope I have neither twisted nor misinterpreted the Dr. Cole's and Fr. Webster's much better, but longer, presentation of this issue.


1. Webster, (Fr.) Alexander F. C. & Cole, (Professor) Darrell;
The Virtue Of War; Reclaiming the Classic Christian
Traditions East and West;
Regina Orthodox Press; 2004;
ISBN 1-928653-17-0

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Hermione said...

Negative Religious Liberty avoids the tyranny of the majority. What is one to do if one must live in a country that the majority of people practice a religion that is loathsome and disgusting? Like Christianity to a Hindu? Or Hinduism to a Christian?