Has Tolerance Become a Euphemism for Bigotry?

Perhaps it already has, writes Richard Samuelson, and it certainly will if, for instance, approval of same-sex weddings were to lead to the punishment of clergy who refuse to conduct them:

If our government pursues [such] logic, which follows naturally from Justice Kennedy’s claim in his gay-rights decisions that only invidious animus can explain one’s rejection of gay marriage, it could be used to require all priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, etc. to preform same-sex weddings, or lose their legal ability to officiate at weddings at all. (Sure, the argument would go, clerics are free to believe whatever they want, but the right to sign a marriage license is a right government confers, and, as such, the government ought to deny that right to those who would discriminate in its application). . . .

As the scope of American law has grown, the areas of conflict between the rights of conscience and the demands of law have increased considerably. . . . Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans, particularly in our elite and governing classes, who hold that religions (perhaps only non-progressive religions) are a barbarous relic of a bygone age has increased considerably. Hence they refuse to recognize the rights of conscience.

Seen from this angle, we can recognize that what is called a “culture war” might better be understood as the problems that come with the creation of a post-modern religious establishment—an establishment that takes on most of the roles of the old establishments, yet defines its beliefs, conveniently, as “not religion.” The result is that it feels free to impinge on the rights of conscience in the name of “toleration” and “diversity.”

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Read more at Federalist

More about: Freedom of Religion, Gay marriage, Religion & Holidays, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela