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Divine Rights and Human Rights

The eminent political theorist Harvey Mansfield once wrote that the “religious question” is the crucial one for the modern age, because it concerns the ultimate repository of authority and control. Is it human or is it divine?

“All pre-modern regimes,” said Mansfield, “are more or less based on divine right, on appeal to a principle that says men do not control themselves, that they are controlled by a higher power.”

The modern project, by contrast, is centrally concerned with liberation from that higher power:

“For if men cannot act effectively on their own, they will have to return to divine right, notwithstanding the objections that philosophers might propose. Liberation leads to reform. Liberation is not merely skeptical or negative; it is positive and progressive.”

One of the ways that modernity has answered this challenge is by appropriating “religion” and transforming it from a duty that one owes a creator to a duty that one owes to oneself. In law, one sees this transformation clearly in the standard that is conventionally applied by American courts to requests for religious exemptions from general laws, in which sincerity, individual commitment, or personal conviction are alone sufficient to bring a claim (though they are not sufficient to prevail).

That way of perceiving and understanding religion certainly mitigates certain dangers. It locates authority when it comes to religion solely in the individual, thereby removing all authority from the state. The state is disabled from judging in matters of religion both for epistemic and non-establishment reasons.

Furthermore, religion, as a legal category, becomes accessible to more and more Americans, irrespective of what they may believe. That is precisely what happened in the mid-20th century, as the “duty to the Creator” conception of religion was relaxed in favor of a conception locating all authority over religious questions in the individual conscience.

But this revision may also lead to problems, as religion steadily becomes dissociated from any power external to the individual believer. Law, of course, is responsive to and reflective of more general cultural movements, understandings, and programs, and a short post of this kind is no place to document those changes. But the transformation of religion from a divine phenomenon to a human one was brought home to me in reading the “Religion” section of the New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago. Four books about “religion” were reviewed—all favorably. Every one of them reflected this transformation.

The first, A None’s Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam, was noted for its author’s itinerant “religious tourism” as she sampled this, that, and the other on her “journey.” The second, Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself, criticizes those who have a noxious “God intoxication”; advises that Judaic moral teaching can be summed up by the pabulum, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor”; and recommends discarding traditional ideas of God in exchange for “an autonomous, universal moral consciousness that it is our job to interpret responsibly.”

The third, Revelation: A Search for Faith in a Violent Religious World, explores religion not as a matter of belief but as a human “action” responsible for “international human catastrophes.” Finally, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto is a “mischievous account” that describes agnosticism as “a positive orientation toward life all its own, one that embraces both science and mystery, and values the immediate joys of life.”

There is much to be said for valuing the immediate joys of life, of course. But all of these books share one key feature: they conceive of religion as an eminently human affair, satisfying the changeable longings of, as the New York Times reviewer puts it in closing, “our human, day-to-day life.”

Since my own area is law, I’ll close this entry with a question (to be picked up in future posts): Can the free exercise of religion, at least insofar as it requires or permits religious accommodation, long survive as a legal concept if this is now what religion means? Religious freedom was once considered as at least in part a divine right. The exercise of religious duties may have been owed by me, but the creditor was God. If it is now a purely human right—God having been not merely “put second” but erased—how does that change religion’s legal status?

Reader Discussion

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on July 29, 2016 at 10:56:50 am

My Dear Professor:

Do not fret! Be not afraid!

After all we have the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and nobody really wants to take that away from you, now do they!

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gabe
on July 29, 2016 at 12:48:56 pm

Professor DeGirolami, I am an interested chemical engineer and citizen and would like to respond, asking you to allow me freedom to define words and phrases. I think “Divine rights and human rights,” questions what should be done about the indisputable facts of civic morality (TIFCR), which are derived from physics.

If one has excellent knowledge of thoughts by Francis Bacon (d. 1626), David Hume (1776), Jeremy Bentham (1832), Albert Einstein (1955), Karl Popper (1994) and others in their classes of thinkers, which I am trying to acquire, one idea that can emerge is that the 17th and 18th century claims of some thinkers were simply wrong. For example, John Locke (1704) thought science was fungible but men’s rational thought about gods, a proprietary one in particular, is fixed and therefore reliable. Einstein was invited into the public debates “science v. religion,” and therefore did not spring from “science,” a study to “physics,” together with its progeny, the object of study.

In the last 100 years, humankind has experienced and observed the importance of discovery, comprehension, and understanding. Only last year, an observation by LIGO seems to have converted Einstein’s “general theory of relativity” into a law. See https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/news/ligo20160211 . The Catholic Church accepts the big bang and evolution, primarily because of the indisputability of discovery. At the big bang, according to the general theory, energy, mass and space-time emerged, and henceforth, everything on Earth emerged, including the imagination of a god that controls the unfolding of the universe(s).

The god theory has been neither proven nor disproven, and therefore exists in the status: waiting for knowledge. However, most god theories have been disproven. There are so many god theories and variations within each school, it seems personally risky to claim any doctrine is correct. Even using the label “god” seems risky. The variations may be considered art forms, and thus have validity for persons interested in the art.

For example, some people hold that the Christian Bible is the word of a god. Controversial ideas can be viewed with timelines of indisputable facts of reality (TIFR) to position the student to draw rational conclusions. Slavery was institutional in the Code of Hammurabi, 3800 years ago. However, the physics of slavery---chains, whips, brutality and rape to slaves with burdens to slave-masters---made it plain to humankind that slavery was immoral. But when the Emperor Constantine in 300-400 AD commanded Roman priests to canonize a Christian Bible, they included books, both Old Testament and New Testament, that condone slavery. In 1455 and 1494, papal bulls granted monopolies on African slave trade, and a hundred years later, five European countries and many African chiefs were participating. In 1861, white Christian church in the South cited scripture to claim that white Christian church in the North held “more erroneous religious opinion” (quoting the Declaration of Secession). North white-church (North god) with some help from black-church (1758 and black god) waged war against South white-church (white god) to end slavery in America.

Nice story, right? However, than recognize that the Bible is flawed, black-church now has some theorists who teach that the Bible is the word of God and slavery is true: black Americans will emerge supreme. In other words, whites will become slaves. God’s power is black power. That idea does not bother me any more than white-church ultimatums, as long as the believers behave with civic morality. However, just now, in my home town, Baton Rouge, I am not certain where the debate is headed. A few people I meet tell me my ideas of man and will yield to God’s power. Barack Obama’s theory seems to hold that blacks are civic antinomians. It’s scary.

I know some Muslims that treat me very nicely, and I appreciate but am humble about what I perceive. Also, I view their statement, “Phil, sooner or later you will submit to Allah,” is merely the verity that I will die, in their vernacular. I could be wrong. Either way, as long as Muslims intend (not promise) behave with civic morality, I can both wait for my afterdeath and trust the future for my personal posterity.

What is civic morality? It is collaboration for broadly defined civic safety and security (BDCSS). “Civic” refers to persons living the same years in the same place, and differs from “social” in that the only public preference is BDCSS. The consequence is a civic culture. Willing persons use a few stated goals, for example, those goals stated in the preamble to the constitution for the USA, and the indisputable facts of reality (TIFR) to establish civic morality. For example, there is no slavery, lying, red-light running or infidelity among a civic people (ACP). We estimate that 65% of inhabitants would like this way of living and the 35% would decline as the achievable real-no-harm private liberty with civic morality (RNH-PLwCM) emerged.

I have written for twenty years urging ACP to amend the first amendment to protect thought, a personal right and civic duty rather than religion, an institution imposed on humankind by the timeline of uncertainty. Religion’s legal status would be placed where it belongs: a matter of opinion a person holds in the absence of TIFR. When the facts are known, few choose opinion.

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Phil Beaver
on July 29, 2016 at 14:57:21 pm

Phil, my advice that a little help from someone in the mental health trade still stands.

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Scott Amorian
on July 29, 2016 at 14:59:59 pm

The thing about increased communication of information is that it gives us a greater ability to make decisions for ourselves. We have less need for a centralized corporeal body to provide us with Truth. As those corporeal bodies disintegrate, our decisions become more individualistic. We gain the advantages and disadvantages of individuality, but we lose the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a church or political body.

One church that I know of that is centered in individualistic religious views is the Unitarian Universalist church. That church has devolved into a statist political organization. Funny, how that works.

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Scott Amorian
on July 29, 2016 at 15:02:14 pm

On a related note, is it true that internet access is now a Human Right? Apparently the UN says yes.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/audio/2016/jul/29/internet-access-human-right-tech-podcast?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=fb_a-technology_b-gdntech#link_time=1469779184

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Scott Amorian
on July 29, 2016 at 15:57:03 pm

Thus the problem of being *universalist* is exposed. Not only is it no longer a CHURCH, defined as a religious association, it is also no longer about individuals.

For those Catholics out there, watch out, your friend with the pointy hat is attempting to do the same thing. His efforts to make the RC Church relevant will leave it completely irrelevant and devoid of followers.

But what do I know says the ex-altar boy!

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gabe
on July 29, 2016 at 15:58:27 pm

Yep and coming next is a State requirement that all the "lemmings" of the world must have a free download of bleepin' Pokemon GO (or whatever other fad is current).

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gabe
on July 29, 2016 at 15:59:11 pm

Scott, one of the realities of life is that personal aggression such as yours toward me ends up with woe for the aggressor--at least that's how my aggressions worked against me.

It should be plain to you by now that I am committed to and trust the objective truth of which most is unknown and some is understood. Your posts about me mean nothing. I encourage you to bow out of your vain offenses.

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Phil Beaverp
on July 29, 2016 at 16:52:48 pm

tee hee. so much for your advice

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Phil Beaver
on July 30, 2016 at 13:43:01 pm

To answer the question posed in the last paragraph of this post, yes, religious accommodation can survive, even if the concept of religion becomes more anthropocentric. Consider the premise that religion is not reflective of divine will i.e. is not given by an intelligent creator.

First we should notice that religious belief of one kind or another is universal. Now if we reject the assertion that this is because God is universal (which raises the question why are religions so different, why are some pantheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, etc.) then we must at least conjecture some source that explains the observation. Here is one hypothesis: religious belief arises from the fact that human cognition requires curiosity in order to deal with novelty and uncertainty. The mind invents hypotheses, it creates myths and even if they lack scientific accuracy, allow humans to function in settings of uncertainty. Another source is the universal aversion to feelings of helplessness. It is emotionally stabilizing to put faith in something other than blind luck. If the crops fail, well there was a reason, and it can be fixed with appeasement of the appropriate agents. Now these are just some conjectures; they may be wrong, but they do not affect the underlying observation: religious belief is universal. Faith in things unseen, in the underlying order of things, in some purpose, is held by the vast majority of humans, even avowed atheists.

Secondly, religious belief seems not only to be nearly universal, but is prominent in all functioning societies. If we reject the notion that this is because religious societies are keeping God happy, then there must be some explanation for the phenomenon. (And what of religious wars and sectarian atrocities?) Well, we go back to observation number one--that religious belief is intrinsic to humans--and add another indisputable fact: human beings are tool users. The innate religiosity of humans can be used for good ends, like organizing a society around common values, or nefarious ones, like motivating violence against the other. It should be noted that religious doctrines contain a whole lot of wise guidance, on everything from public health, to prudent government to social interactions. In short, religious beliefs became part of cultures and societies because those cultures and societies benefited from them. Religions provide a source of commonality, a reference, and in no small measure a repository of tradition and wisdom that sustain social and cultural cohesion. Religion has survived because it has been useful, even if not exclusively so.

Humans have not abandoned religious belief. We are just as willing to adopt beliefs to contend with novelty and uncertainty as were the most superstitious of our prehistoric ancestors. We now have beliefs in things like "social justice," the perfectability of man through the wisdom of expert guidance and government force, the evil of carbon dioxide, the myth that bad things happen only because bad people let or intend them, "equality," and the sanctity of subjective feelings. These are sources of reference for some of us, tools to be exploited by others. They serve the same psychological purposes as Apollo pulling the sun across the sky, or the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

So yes, there will always be exemptions for faith, whether it be that only certain types of people can be racist, or that inanimate objects have moral agency, or that recognizing differences between people is evil, but diversity is good. Unverifiable beliefs will always be grounds for special pleading.

Deity based beliefs have survived because they were fit to do so. They will not go away. They have accumulated centuries of human experience and human wisdom. They had a huge role in shaping the modern world, both good and bad. It may simply be the case that society will find out the hard way the risks involved in mocking and trying to suppress them, in favor of more trendy, and inevitably, more arrogant beliefs.

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z9z99
on July 30, 2016 at 14:32:00 pm

Phil,

Allow me to make an observation. Above you say

The variations may be considered art forms, and thus have validity for persons interested in the art.

.

Might not the same principle apply to your views of broadly defined cIvic safety and security (BDCSS), and a civic people (ACP). You have stated that your group's goal is to involve 65% of the population in your collaborative project, yet you seem to have attracted only a handful of people to libraries to advance your theories. Why should anyone regard this as anything more than a hobby? People have other hobbies, and (in my opinion) the population that cares about this civic morality enough to do anything formal about it is way less than 65%. I believe you stated you came up with that number from the percentage of founding fathers who participated in some conference or other. If so, this is a selected group, expected to have an enhanced interest in the subject matter and in no way representative of the population as a whole.

I think it is problematic that you seek to define and redefine terms yet give little reason for people to adopt those definitions. In short, you do not seem to have gotten past the hobby stage, yet I fully support your right to keep trying. But I think your concept of Private Liberty with Civic Morality (PLwCM) has yet to overcome legitimate skepticism, which I doubt many people are interested in collaborating about. I could be wrong. I do commend you for attempting orderly discussion directly bringing about lasting liberty (ODDBALL). Certainly your views of what society should look like are worthy of hearing, even if your plans for achieving them seem a little half-baked. And no doubt a civic people (ACP) should aspire to national unity to collaborate about social equality (NUtCaSE). I think perhaps you should consider whether your perceived religion bashing is off-putting,, not as a matter of doctrine but of strategy if you truly want to bring about nurturing and noble American society (BANaNAS). I personally agree with your using basic physics as a starting point for discussing social structure. What is needed is liberty improving the higher instincts uniting mankind. (LItHIUM). And of course you must make the case for how this collaboration can remain focused assuming more and more interests join and try to steer your efforts to their advantage. Is there some limit to how many people can participate in free reason uniting individuals to collaborate against known evils (FRUItCAKE)?

Seriously, though, even if 65% of participation is your goal, what do you think are the prospects for achieving it? What level of participation do you think is minimal to have any influence at all?

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z9z99
on July 30, 2016 at 14:34:18 pm

There seem to be some absolutes in your post, like "religious belief is universal."

I am reminded of Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 1958. This professor spent ten years research and writing, on leave from Oxford. He seemed to use 404 pages to discount or discredit, in his words and phrases, what I trust and am committed to: the objective truth.

Then he added one fabulous paragraph that ends with two sentences: "We envisage then a cosmic field which called forth all these centres by offering them a short-lived, limited, hazardous opportunity for making some progress of their own towards an unthinkable consummation. And that is also, I believe, how a Christian is placed when worshiping God." I only think I understand.

There's a lot of nobility in Polayani's expression. He left it to other believers to represent their faiths. I trust and am committed to the objective truth of which much is undiscovered and some is understood. I do not intend, again in my lifetime, to replace that trust and commitment with a faith.

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Phil Beaver
on July 30, 2016 at 19:32:57 pm

Z:

Unfortunately, as you may recall from past Christmases, Fruitcakes appear to last forever - let us hop that Phil's peculiar recipe is not so endowed!

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gabe
on July 30, 2016 at 19:47:11 pm

Phil:

Perhaps, it is all those *undiscovered truths" that have limited you to a few sociopaths hiding in the aisles of the local library.

And what is wrong with an "absolute" - does not your "Physics" postulate absolutes. So much of pbhysics is based upon speculation, an attempt as Z says to quell uncertainty, to provide comfort in an otherwise mystifying, unknown world.

Perhaps, your "cosmic field" whatever the f that is, or the Big Bang, (boy that must have been fun _"Was it good for you, too?) is the God of physics - that which explains that which may not be comprehended.

And how well we as a species have advanced since we adopted the new secular religion of physics. Indeed we have become more dishonest, more dissembling but we now mask it under the rubric of "science" - thus, it must be good. Yep, just like Woddie Wilson's proposition on *scientific government."

I'll stick with my tailgating friends, drink a little booze (maybe a lot) laugh my head off along with my friends at all the experts who can not drive a damn 10p nail, and who can from time to time ponder AND appreciate the mysteries of life - even if it is interrupted by some choice swear words at the Seahawks opponents.

There is more wisdom - more empirical truths - to be found at any tailgating party on Football sunday than in the dank libraries of N'Orleans!

Now a cold bottle of Peroni Italian Lager awaits me.

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gabe
on July 30, 2016 at 19:52:02 pm

Z:

Absotively AND Posilutely!!!!

A *religious* disposition is as natural, as inherent in human epistemology, as is as our compulsive need to decipher the world and make it sensible.

A shame that *science* has had the effect in many instances of shutting off this *internal dialogue* as it purports to debunk all that came before it while creating its own mythology.

And no, Phil I ain't no bible -belching creationist;
just what the *cosmic field* intended me to be - an OBSERVER!

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gabe
on July 30, 2016 at 20:24:34 pm

z9z99

I like your observations, especially the creative acronyms. I wish my thoughts led to such catchy acronyms. But I did not write explicitly in some cases and want to try again.

I wrote, “ . . . collaboration for broadly defined civic safety and security (BDCSS).” The collaboration would take BDCSS beyond my art to civic morality, and I would be happy to start with the other person’s starting point. I wish to start with focus on each child’s transition to young adulthood (about age 30), but would happily start with your subject.

A civic people (ACP) is merely a phrase to distinguish the people who want BDCSS from those of We the People of the United States who prefer dissidence, crime and evil.

The speculation that 65% of extant people want a civic culture is based on a specific conference: The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia that ended with the signing of the draft constitution for the USA. Of the delegates from 12 of 13 states, 39 of 55 signed, or 65 % of the people’s representatives.

My hobby was trying to convince people who attended the library meetings to use rather than lamely refer to the preamble to the constitution for the USA, starting on June 21, 2014. Since then, forty-three people have contributed to the “Theory of ACP 7/28/16,” which is continually updated. For example, we recently revised “collaboration” to “iterative collaboration,” and described it. Thus, it is no longer my preamble hobby, but is a product of the collaborators. Rather than in a hobby stage it seems in an emerging stage.

Respecting the currently stated goal, real-no-harm private liberty with civic morality (RNH-PLwCM), skepticism can hardly develop from silence, and silence merely represents unwillingness to understand. ACP is for the willing, just as the preamble is for volunteers who want to iteratively collaborate for its goals.

The key to ODDBALL is private liberty, the focus of the next post for the blog. That arose when an expert told me John Locke had used that phrase. I did word searches in “Letter on Tolerance” and “Two Treatise of Government,” and did not find the phrase. James Madison used the phrase with different usage. By “private liberty” I am referring to each person’s behavior when they are alone. I’ve barely begun my study of “liberty.”

Half-baked is a fair assessment of a retired chemical engineer’s boldness to think elevating Albert Einstein’s views on “science vs. religion” to “physics and civic morality” could improve humankind’s progress toward peace, but iterative collaboration in numerous civic forums lends some credibility to at least learn the word definitions. “Civic” as we use it refers to ineluctable connections because the persons live in the same time in the same place, whereas “social” refers to association by preference or convention and “civil” means conformance to a standard such a cultural mores or law.

ACP would not want NUtCaSE. We propose to preserve the original preamble for its purposes, yet maintain a sort of consensus of current collaboration. You’ll find our suggestion for iterative collaboration on our website at “Preamble to the constitution for the USA 7/30/16,” wherein we substitute “integrity” for “unity.” Our perception is that unity can lead to civic error such as Hillary-Clinton “Togetherness,” so we offer for iterative collaboration “integrity” meaning both wholeness and verity.

In writing what is plain to everyone about religion, I cannot take responsibility for readers’ reactions. The fact that the priests in 300-400 AD who were charged to canonize the Bible had the choice to observe the physics of slavery—chains, whips, brutality and rape to slaves and burdens to slave masters—points to a possible error by the priests but does not bash Christianity from my viewpoint. If merely points out a fact to be dealt with. Also, it makes plain the possibility that some theologians hold that the Bible is the word of the Christian god, but the god of slavery is black and the slaves will emerge white. If I were a Christian, I would be glad to learn that possibility respecting Christian theology. We do not oppose private religion, but we urge reform from imposing god wars on ACP and tolerating those religions that commonly cause real harm despite the law. Regardless, ACP would not want BANaNAS, because the focus is a civic culture rather than a noble society.

You wrote, “I personally agree with your using basic physics as a starting point for discussing social structure.” A couple points on behalf of my writing. “Physics” is energy, mass and space-time from which everything on Earth emerges and I think “basic physics” is a scientific study, which is subject to if not prone to error. And ACP does not seek to establish social structure beyond the 65% who willingly, iteratively collaborate for BDCSS.

LItHIUM seems to imply Clinton-togetherness and other fictitious “equalities.” I doubt ACP would support it. We seek to unlock more outliers like Steve Jobs. But FRUItCAKE is excluded by both the RNH requirement and physics-based civic morality.

I consider the thoughtful writing you have done here as an element of iterative collaboration. You have reached out to express different views of words and phrases I use. It gives me the chance to clarify. Because of the failure of extant systems of government to provide individual citizens domestic safety and security (DSS), I feel certain almost everyone is looking for new ideas as to how to provide DSS. However, it is obvious to you and me that DSS is insufficient: we must have BDCSS. Because of the world situation, ACP could become of very high interest, and with contributions of willing experts, it could become very useful almost overnight. That is why I have posted on this fantastic blog since last year. ACP is more than me and because of the forty-three iterative-collaborators, it is not mine even as I write.

The view report for the last week is Russia (112), US (39), France (6), Germany (4), Ukraine (4), Latvia, Mauritius, and Vietnam, 1-2 each. I hope most of the US views were from my hometown, Baton Rouge, but I doubt it. We issue a monthly report of activity to 155 willing people in Baton Rouge and 42% to 50% open it. Of course, we could be out knocking on doors like a politician. However, we think it is more important to iteratively collaborate to improve the theory. Also, my most ardent consultant tells me to write a book and let posterity deal with these ideas. However, he does not appreciate the power of iterative collaboration when it happens.

I feel that this blog is a fantastic resource for collaboration. However, responding to so many excellent, provocative posts is beyond one person. Therefore, I try to ignore most new posts. I could not pass “Divine Rights and Human Rights,” when the human struggle is over the indisputable facts of reality. Most is undiscovered and some is understood. I hope you continue the rich dialogue with great acronyms. Maybe you will improve RNH-PLwCM.

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Phil Beaver
on August 01, 2016 at 15:17:53 pm

Can the free exercise of religion, at least insofar as it requires or permits religious accommodation, long survive as a legal concept if this is now what religion means? Religious freedom was once considered as at least in part a divine right. The exercise of religious duties may have been owed by me, but the creditor was God. If it is now a purely human right—God having been not merely “put second” but erased—how does that change religion’s legal status?

I find this an interesting question, but based on a false premise. The implication of this question is that the free exercise of religion, under some previous social construction, enjoyed some greater accommodation than it enjoys today. I'd like some evidence of this.

As far as I am aware, the US was quite harsh to non-Protestant religious people and religions (and even Quakers were suspect) until the Nazis made oppression of religious minorities unfashionable. With the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the US has gone from discriminating against minority religions to, for the first time, expressly discriminating in favor of religion. And the Hobby Lobby case declared that religious people could exempt themselves from Congress's exercise of its taxing powers, provided they claim that complying with Congress's directions would violate their religion. The implications, assuming anyone really took the Court seriously, would be breathtaking.

In short, I believe we are at a high-water mark for religious accommodation. Indeed, I think the Hobby Lobby holding is barely tenable as it is, and the Court will have to construe it narrowly, if not reject it outright, in the future, regardless of which definition of religion people adopt.

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nobody.really
on August 01, 2016 at 16:43:11 pm

I hope Greece v Galloway gets rejected soon. There are so many sentences that offend me. Here's an example:

"The principal audience for these invocations is not, indeed, the public but lawmakers themselves, who may find that a moment of prayer or quiet reflection sets the mind to a higher purpose and thereby eases the task of governing."

Elected officials are neither responding to their religions nor reflecting on their scripture. They are elected to fulfill the duties of the office they hold. There's no place for religion in determining civic morality.

The other day, the Mayor of Baton Rouge, in a civic memorial for the three slain police officers, prefaced his speech, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost," then spoke. There had already been three religious funerals, and this was a chance for citizens to pay their respects without intruding on the various family practices. I can't wait till the day I am not embarrassed by the arrogance of Christian elected officials because the USA has reformed from "freedom of religion," by adopting freedom of thought (probably by simply removing the religion clauses from the First Amendment).

I had not experienced such arrogance before Greece v Galloway.

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Phil Beaver
on August 01, 2016 at 19:56:41 pm

Yep:

Us Protestants were quite harsh to RC's for example. As i am certain you know many early pieces of legislation were cleverly worded to deny Catholic Schools the opportunity to flourish.
But you again overstate the failings of the American polity. While some private antagonisms existed, there was a clear consensus that religious freedom ought to be respected. Read Jeffersons letter to the nuns in Louisiana or Washington's address to the Jewish congregation in Connecticut. To claim that religious Freedom was only *deployed* as an Anti-Nazi strategy betrays your underlying hostility to religion and it's adherents with your false assertion that religious adherents are being favored.

Come off it. nobody really believes in this type of cleverness. nobody really believes that SSM jurisprudence favors religious folks; nobody really believes that tranny bathroom regulations favor religious folks. nobody really believes that abortifacient regulations favor the religious pharmacist. Heck, it seems that nobody really (like good ole Civic Phil above) believes that the Establishment Clause means freedom from religion.
Better check out State relations with religious organizations at the time of the founding for a more accurate understanding of the Esdtablishment Clause. Nope, it was not until the latter part of the 19th century with the influx of southern Europeans, and after the Irish waves to our shores, that it was thought *improper* to provide funding for religious schools.

Little did these folks realize that the end result would be a populace that subscribes to Phil's notion of freedom from religion. Nobody really wants that now do they? - other than the Beaver!

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gabe
on August 01, 2016 at 19:58:06 pm

Oops - that first word should read: U.S. Protestants ( I ain't one) NOT Us Protestants.

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gabe
on August 02, 2016 at 06:45:17 am

" . . . (good ole Civic Phil above) believes that the Establishment Clause means freedom from religion." Wrong.

I think both religion clauses in the First Amendment should be replaced with a statement that religions must conform to USA law but are not involved in the determination of law.

Religion is a private enterprise for believers, who, for example, seek comfort and hope from entities beyond the indisputable facts of reality. People neither compromise religious beliefs nor iteratively collaborate the doctrine, and thus religion does not contribute to civic morality. A religion may concur with civic morality, but its doctrine is not involved in the determination of civic morality.

There's much to be done to reform to civic morality based on the indisputable facts of reality, and putting religion in its proper realm--privacy--is a key reform toward real-no-harm private liberty (RNH-PLwCM).

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Phil Beaver
on August 02, 2016 at 17:21:30 pm

To claim that religious Freedom was only *deployed* as an Anti-Nazi strategy betrays your underlying hostility to religion and its adherents with your false assertion that religious adherents are being favored.

Or perhaps it reflects the fact that in 1940 the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, ruling that public school students could be compelled to say the Pledge of Allegiance, religious objections be damned—and that in 1943, the Court issued its decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette reversing that decision.

nobody really believes that SSM jurisprudence favors religious folks; nobody really believes that tranny bathroom regulations favor religious folks. nobody really believes that abortifacient regulations favor the religious pharmacist.

Indeed, I do believe that SSM jurisprudence, tranny bathroom regulations, and abortifacient regulations favor religious folks—especially gay religious folks, transgendered religious folks, and religious folks need emergency contraceptives.

Would anyone disagree? After all, the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize second marriages unless the first had been annulled—yet I have never heard any Roman Catholic person claim to have suffered religious oppression due to the fact that government recognizes such marriages. So spare us your whimpering about SSM.

(In contrast, people have a viable claim that their religious liberty is burdened by civil rights laws--and specifically the regulation of public accommodations. But that’s distinct from SSM laws.)

Better check out State relations with religious organizations at the time of the founding for a more accurate understanding of the Establishment Clause. Nope, it was not until the latter part of the 19th century with the influx of southern Europeans, and after the Irish waves to our shores, that it was thought *improper* to provide funding for religious schools.

Indeed. In other words, you acknowledge that we did not have religious freedom: We had the mandatory imposition of the majority’s religion on the minority, at public expense. And when the minority wanted to use some of those public funds, too, the majority then changed the rules.

Now, I know that you prize the idea that the Mormon Church could impose their religion on Catholics in Utah. But apparently the Supreme Court has been seized by anti-religious idolatry and now insists on defending the rights of religious minorities from the depredations of religious majorities. Oh, well…..

Nobody really wants that now do they? – other than the Beaver!

What about Wally? If he promises to tell Mrs. Clever that it’s a very nice dress she’s wearing today, could we include him too? ‘Cuz I’m sure we’ll all learn an Important Lesson….

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nobody.really
on September 20, 2016 at 16:30:09 pm

[…] is a religious question, how we answer has profound ramifications on policy and law. In fact, as Marc Degirolami notes, the answer may determine whether free exercise of religion can survive as a legal […]

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Image of Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? | Acton PowerBlog
Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? | Acton PowerBlog
on September 20, 2016 at 21:15:13 pm

[…] is a religious question, how we answer has profound ramifications on policy and law. In fact, as Marc Degirolami notes, the answer may determine whether free exercise of religion can survive as a legal […]

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Image of Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? – Acton Institute (blog) | Forctr
Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? – Acton Institute (blog) | Forctr
on September 20, 2016 at 21:38:25 pm

[…] is a religious question, how we answer has profound ramifications on policy and law. In fact, as Marc Degirolami notes, the answer may determine whether free exercise of religion can survive as a legal […]

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Image of Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? – Acton Institute (blog) | Bcst Connect
Will free exercise of religion survive as a legal concept? – Acton Institute (blog) | Bcst Connect

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