American Turban

Contrasting religious dominance with religious freedom

Philadelphia's Bible Riots of 1844 reflected a strain of anti-Catholic bias and hostility that coursed through 19th-century America. (Granger Collection, New York. Source: Smithsonian)

Philadelphia’s Bible Riots of 1844 reflected a strain of anti-Catholic bias and hostility that coursed through 19th-century America. (Granger Collection, New York. Source: Smithsonian)

A recent study by The Barna Group surveying the topic of religious freedom in the United States suggests that a large proportion of Evangelical Christians believe that their religious freedom is under threat because of a perception that “some groups have actively tried to move society away from traditional Christian values.”

An article in Patheos (via @jbarooah) summarizes the study and addresses the perception, providing recommendations for Evangelicals around understanding the difference between dominance and freedom:

First, we need to guard against double-talk: wanting to preserve Christian dominance and calling for religious freedom for all. If we Evangelical Christians want religious freedom, we will need to champion the religious freedom of others, even if we disagree with them on their views, and even if it means that they will critique us with that freedom.

In essence, religious freedom should not be seen as a zero-sum game — one’s religious freedom should not be impeded by or come at the expense of that of other groups. In this is the contrast between true freedom and dominance. For all faith groups, we must champion the freedom for all to practice (or not practice) their faith, rather than view religious freedom through the narrow lens of our own beliefs.

Read more at Patheos. An interesting account of the early history of religious (in)tolerance in the United States is at the Smithsonian.

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