16 Dec Media and Governments Seek to Curtail Religious Liberty
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Merry Christmas!! Happy Hanukkah! Isn’t it wonderful to be able to say that to each other? As much as we enjoy hearing and saying those phrases, we must realize that right now, during this holiday season, there are those who are working to take it away. In this season of religious holidays, it is important for us to stop and consider what must be done to preserve our religious freedom. We must be more cognizant of the forces that seek to strip us of our religious liberty.
Voices in the media and governments are trying desperately to convince us that giving up this freedom will, in fact, make us happier. Many have tried to suggest that we are living in the past, relying on old books that have no meaning in today’s world. Governments and world bodies are also trying to convince us to shed our religious beliefs.
Recently, we have seen what happens when people of faith choose to exercise their religious liberty. With the passage of Proposition 8, a flood of protests have shown that what the opposition really wants is to limit religious freedom to include only those ideas they see as relevant to today’s world.
The December 5, Newsweek article, “Our Mutual Joy” by religion editor, Lisa Miller, seeks to convince readers that “The Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married – and a number of excellent reasons why they should.”
The author also tells us that “No matter what one thinks about gay rights – for, against or somewhere in between – this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism.”
She continues by saying, “Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history.”
It is this type of rhetoric that allows us a window into what others really think of those who believe in God. They believe that we embrace the “worst kind of fundamentalism”. They think that the Holy Scriptures which are the basis of religious beliefs for millions around the world “give us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be married“.
Last week United Families International was in New York for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We were there to call upon the General Assembly of the United Nations to reinforce the original intent of the document.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes 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.”
This week, France is collecting more signatures for its own declaration that calls for recognition of “sexual orientation or gender identity” as a protected human rights category on par with race and sex.
If the United Nations begins using sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories we will see our religious liberties severely curtailed. Once those categories become protected human rights, governments and courts around the world will begin enacting laws to protect those human rights. Those laws will have severe consequences for people of faith and their religious freedom.
This is a season of gratitude. It is a season when we give pause in our busy lives to stop, remember, and worship according to our religious beliefs. This year, it is also a season to remember that freedom is not won by standing still. Freedom – religious freedom – is won and will be maintained by recognizing the enemy and choosing to engage in the battle.
United Families International has been engaged in the battle for 30 years. We urge you to join us today. Make a contribution so that we can continue fighting for what we all believe in. Help us keep this season a season where we can wish each other “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Hanukkah!”
Beverly Rice, UFI President