Freedom of Religion Must Mean More Than Freedom of Conscience

To some early modern thinkers, a primary concern was that governments protect, or at least not threaten, individuals’ liberty to believe what they wish about God and other matters. Yet the American Constitution goes further, guaranteeing “the free exercise” of religion. This broader definition is of particular import to Jews, for whom practice is paramount. In his review of Robert Louis Wilken’s Liberty in the Things of God, John Inazu explores this distinction:

Conscience is indeed important to the history of religious freedom. But religious practice is sustained and transmitted through religious communities. . . . The role of religious communities is [therefore] not a subsidiary motif of religious freedom but integral to its proper understanding and defense.

Fortunately, most of Liberty in the Things of God underscores exactly this point. For example, Wilken notes that the Christian writer Tertullian, the first Western thinker to use the phrase “freedom of religion,” defended Christians against charges that their gatherings amounted to “illegal factions.” As Wilken observes, “Tertullian was defending the rights of Christians to assemble for worship, to organize, to choose leaders, to care for one another, even to have their own burial places for their dead.”

The kind of religious freedom that allows us to live in peace in a pluralistic society depends upon a careful parsing of two paired ideas: (1) public and private; and (2) individual and communal. Religious practice is public as well as private and communal as well as individual. This means religious freedom must not be limited to either individual or private religion.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Freedom of Religion, U.S. Constitution

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy