The Challenges to Religious Freedom from the Left and from the Right

April 4 2018

Addressing current threats to freedom of religion in the U.S., Daniel Mark points to troubling intellectual trends on both ends of the political spectrum. From the left, he sees an emerging worldview that seeks to single out long-held religious belief and practices—especially about marriage and sexuality—as forms of “discrimination”:

Underlying the identity politics of sex and the current attacks on religious freedom as discrimination is a postmodern—or rather hypermodern—denial of human nature that amounts to a rejection of all reason and all authority. This movement, in essence, rejects anything that stands in the way of the radical personal autonomy to choose, unrestrained, not only what we do but even what we are.

One central consequence of this denial of human nature is that it leads ineluctably to a denial of human rights. Without a firm view of human nature, we cannot construct a coherent account of human rights. I am aware, of course, that the people I have in mind here claim all sorts of things in the name of human rights. But the new menu of human rights is selective, subjective, and, finally, indefensible. . . . Having abandoned the proper grounds for human rights in order to make room for their ever-expanding list of demands, they have left the concept of rights stretched so thin that the very idea is endangered.

Looking to the right, and the Christian right in particular, Mark fears those who find the roots of left-wing excesses in the same classical liberal tradition that gave the world religious toleration in the first place:

[It’s necessary to] ask what [these] critics of classical liberalism envision: is their goal to build a newer, better, likely smaller Christendom, or is [it] to create just enough space to rebuild a Christian culture within a classical liberal order? Do they wish to reground individual rights on a true and sound basis, or do they want to instrumentalize, minimize, and relativize individual rights, which they see as inimical to the common good in the long run? Do they believe in political, economic, and religious liberty not just in prudence but in principle? Do they believe it was wrong for the pope to kidnap Edgardo Mortara or just poor judgment about the consequences? In the end, do they see classical liberalism and Christianity as compatible or incompatible? . . .

The critics may say that I am naïve about classical liberalism, but, if so, my naïveté only goes so far. I am not here to contend that religious freedom and individual rights are enough on their own. . . . I recognize that liberty alone is insufficient. Virtue, which requires religion, is also necessary. . . .

But the critics contend that classical liberalism itself necessarily, inevitably undermines the very conditions that make its own existence possible. . . . If they’re right, then it is futile to try to foster a Christian culture within a classically liberal order for the long term. This is why we hear more and more talk today about integralism, about un-separating church and state, about Christian monarchists. At risk of oversimplifying, I will say that those conversations don’t sound as if they’re about restoring a Christian culture but about restoring Christendom.

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Read more at Public Discourse

More about: Discrimination, Freedom of Religion, Human nature, Liberalism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Politics

Europe Must Stop Tolerating Iranian Operations on Its Soil

March 31 2023

Established in 2012 and maintaining branches in Europe, North America, and Iran, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Network claims its goal is merely to show “solidarity” for imprisoned Palestinians. The organization’s leader, however, has admitted to being a representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a notorious terrorist group whose most recent accomplishments include murdering a seventeen-year-old girl. As Arsen Ostrovsky and Patricia Teitelbaum point out, Samidoun is just one example of how the European Union allows Iran-backed terrorists to operate in its midst:

The PFLP is a proxy of the Iranian regime, which provides the terror group with money, training, and weapons. Samidoun . . . has a branch in Tehran. It has even held events there, under the pretext of “cultural activity,” to elicit support for operations in Europe. Its leader, Khaled Barakat, is a regular on Iran’s state [channel] PressTV, calling for violence and lauding Iran’s involvement in the region. It is utterly incomprehensible, therefore, that the EU has not yet designated Samidoun a terror group.

According to the Council of the European Union, groups and/or individuals can be added to the EU terror list on the basis of “proposals submitted by member states based on a decision by a competent authority of a member state or a third country.” In this regard, there is already a standing designation by Israel of Samidoun as a terror group and a decision of a German court finding Barakat to be a senior PFLP operative.

Given the irrefutable axis-of-terror between Samidoun, PFLP, and the Iranian regime, the EU has a duty to put Samidoun and senior Samidoun leaders on the EU terror list. It should do this not as some favor to Israel, but because otherwise it continues to turn a blind eye to a group that presents a clear and present security threat to the European Union and EU citizens.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: European Union, Iran, Palestinian terror, PFLP