In your opinion, why is it important for Christians to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just our own? - Pathfinder

In your opinion, why is it important for Christians to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just our own?

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    • #1440
      pathfinderlms
      Keymaster
    • #2006
      Esther Felipe
      Participant

      I do not believe it would have been possible for Christianity to exist if Christians did not fight for their religious freedom. Early Christians were not able to exercise their religious freedom, but they chose to fight for it because they believed in it.
      Hence, I find that if one chooses to believe in something they will fight for their right to exercise religious freedom.
      Therefore, I do not find it a Christians place to determine what faiths should or should not be allowed or what people should choose to believe in and practice.
      As Christians like to have their religious freedom and be respected, so should they allow others to find their way and respect their religious journey.
      Nothing good has ever come out through force; and deeming what people should do, believe in, and practice has never accomplished anything. If Christians focus on giving a better testimony instead of trying to proselytize everyone, perhaps people will see their testimony.

      • #2132
        Connie Hammond
        Participant

        Hi Esther, I like how you mentioned that early Christians chose to fight for Christianity because they believed in it. That reminds me of apologetics, defending the faith. When someone truly believes their faith and wants to go deeper in it, they get to the level of being able to defend their beliefs before others and can become better at sharing their faith as well. It also reminds me of how the church in persecuted areas is growing under persecution and in an underground church format. When religious freedom does not exist, people still find a way to practice what they believe and fight for what they believe, even if it is behind closed doors.

    • #2045
      Madeline Hall
      Participant

      I believe that Christ honors our freedom to choose and that giving people that freedom is honoring their humanity. It is absolutely contrary to what it says in the bible to treat someone without love because they do not believe the same things you do. Protecting the religious freedom of other faiths is also protecting your own faith, because as one people group starts to be oppressed, the oppression does not stop there. Above all, God calls us to love our neighbor and dishonoring their freedom to choose what they want to believe is inconsistent with love.

      • #2128
        Alex Cevallos
        Participant

        Madeline,

        I appreciate your emphasize on love. “God calls us to love our neighbor and dishonoring their freedom to choose what they want to believe is inconsistent with love.” It is very interesting throughout the Scriptures the Israelites were always living in close proximity to other nations. These nations did not worship the God of Israel and yet God commanded the Israelites to love their neighbors. Therefore, a prime example of love back then was allowing those neighbors to worship the God of their choice.

      • #2214
        John Ryan Rodriguez
        Participant

        Hey Madeline,
        Thanks for contributing to this discussion. I really enjoyed reading your input. I think you hit the nail right on the head with your remarks. The ability to choose is definitely a part of the Christian faith. Moreover, protecting that freedom is something that strengthens the Christain identity, and promotes neighborly love for those around us. The gospels show us how Jesus loved people regardless of who or what they were. Rather, he showed us what love ought to look like.

    • #2130
      Connie Hammond
      Participant

      In my opinion, it is important for Christians to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just my own because God gives humans free will to choose Him. Thankfully, we in the United States do not have a state sponsored religion. We are given the opportunity to choose our own faith and worship God as we would like. When the state starts mandating how we should worship God or which religion we should be, that can turn into not freely choosing our faith, but being coerced into a faith tradition. When we are coerced or forced to believe something, it often does not mean as much to us because it was not as freely chosen. I want people to have the opportunity to choose what they believe and who they follow. When people are forced to be Muslim in a Muslim country, it often does not mean as much to them as if they chose it for themselves. I think freedom of religion is valuable and gives people the freedom to believe what they want to believe.

      • #2149
        Hans Vogel
        Participant

        Hi Connie.
        I grew up in a completely different context, in the state churches in Switzerland. As a child and teenager in the Catholic Church and then as a youth in the Protestant Church, where I got to know God personally. I don’t agree with the union of church and state, but God worked (and is working) through such vessels as well.
        For me, the dignity of a person is the basis that we should respect this person. Each person is made in the image of God, also with his convictions and his beliefs. As you wrote in your above reply to Dylan, thanks.

      • #2213
        John Ryan Rodriguez
        Participant

        Hey Connie,
        Thanks for contributing to this discussion. I really enjoyed your input. It made me think of my own faith journey. Like many other Christians, I was brought up in the church and did not really have a say as to what I was introduced to. Ultimately, I made the decision to change denominations during my junior year of undergrad. Though this isn’t as drastic as other individuals’ journeys, I was still given the opportunity to chase God in the way I deemed fit for me. I believe that independence in thought and action allows the relationship that people make with Christ their own.

      • #2806
        Kenneth C. Jackson
        Participant

        Connie,

        Thanks for your point. In Liberia, we are not coerced but free to worship God in every form and faction. However, when I hear fighting for the rights of people of all faiths, I think it goes beyond worshipping or gathering or choosing. What have observed over the past years has been, many Christians in Liberia (who are even political leaders) have just refused to give (fight for) freedom of bread to the marginalized, and freedom shelter to the vulnerable and the lists goes on and on. For me, our God is holistic in giving us his free will so our fights for other are.

    • #2182
      Taylor Roth
      Participant

      Hey everyone!

      As we have learned throughout this course and program, it is essential to respect communities different than our own while upholding respect and tolerance for the unique practices of different faiths. In my opinion, it is crucial to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just our own, because this is a critical component of being a Christian leader. As Christians, we believe that all of mankind is seen as equal within the eyes of the Lord. This means that people of different faiths are not only equally loved by our Creator, but are also deserving of equal rights and protections. After all, God provides each of us with free will to make our own decisions surrounding what we believe and choose to practice. As Christian leaders, we must stand up for the rights of those whom we disagree with to practice their faith freely. This demonstrates not only God’s love for the world and for His children, but it also positions us in a way that allows us to better understand people of other faith backgrounds while encouraging them to become interested in our own. When it comes down to it, upholding religious freedom both supports the liberty of all faiths to be practiced freely and breaks down the barriers needed to realize what we have in common.

      Best,
      Taylor

      • #2288
        Max Prowant
        Participant

        Hey Taylor,

        I confess I don’t have much of substance to say. Only that I thought this post very nicely summed up my views regarding religious tolerance. Well done!

        Best,
        Max

      • #2332
        Harvest Prude
        Participant

        Hi Taylor, I appreciate how your response focuses on the inherent dignity bestowed upon all men through the Imago Dei, and as such, how all people are deserving of rights–among them religious liberty! I couldn’t agree more. I also appreciated how you rightly note that God bestows on man the gift of free will, which allows us to choose the truth or to reject it. If we enjoy free will from God, we cannot then seek to oppress and forcibly convert or suppress others, even if their faith and practice differ from ours.

    • #2211
      John Ryan Rodriguez
      Participant

      As a Christian in the United States, it has been a part of my upbringing to worship without restriction. As we have seen over years, faith communities across the globe have been targeted by their governing state for simply being a practicing member of their faith community. The end result has been the wrongful, countless deaths of individuals who, whom under Judeo-Christian faiths are believed to be made in the image of God. To deny others of their ability to worship is hypocritically and unneighborly under the values that so many Christians and Jews are brought up with. Though some individuals targeted in this question may not have the same belief or practices that I do, I believe it is important to stand up for their right to peace and salvation. If world religions fail to do so, then there could potentially be the elimination of all of them, collectively.

      • #2613
        Denise DeVatt
        Participant

        John,
        I like where you pointed out that they are made in the image of God! We have a responsibility to respect and protect other’s religious freedoms because if we are to love others as ourselves, and to remember that they are made in the image of God, we have an obligation to help them, simply because that is what God expects of us. You made another really good point in referring to “their right to peace and salvation” and I appreciate that, considering their pathway is very different than ours. Thanks for your post!

    • #2237
      Dan Harre
      Participant

      As John Locke said, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The day that Christians stop defending the right of Muslims to worship openly is the day that we too invite opposition to our own right to practice. The key to open worship is not theocracy, but tolerance. Furthermore, Christ is not interested in the worship of those who are being forced against their will. He desires for men and women to come to Him honestly and humbly, presenting their hearts in the hope of genuine reconciliation.

      • #2356
        Olivia Layne
        Participant

        Dan, I really appreciate your John Locke quote here. I also really enjoy the perspective of the dangerous invitation to opposition that Christians create when they don’t support freedom of religion. I think history has proven that when one religion is persecuted, soon enough most other religions will be under attack, too. And that dangerous path often leads to forceful ideologies that strongarm people into thinking of religion as morally wrong or oppressive. Very great post!

    • #2287
      Max Prowant
      Participant

      There are a few reasons why Christians should support religious freedom, stemming both from our religious worldview and from simple pragmatism. Regarding the first, Christians recognize that faith cannot be forced. To believe, one must believe genuinely and be given the freedom to explore the depths of his faith. Policies which provided for Christian worship but which precluded others would not allow the freedom for creatures endowed with intellect to explore and truly choose faith.
      Regarding the second point, history reminds of the consequences of joining Church and state authorities. The message of Christ becomes corrupted by political calculations. What is more, persecution runs rampant with those certain of their faiths trampling over others. A political system that allows the free worship of religions is more conducive to genuine faith and faith which is true to the original message.

    • #2331
      Harvest Prude
      Participant

      I believe that supporting the principle of religious freedom for all is one indicator of confidence in the winsomeness and truth of one’s own religion. It shows that we trust the beauty and good news of salvation, rather than force imposed by the State or other crude tactics, to grow the church. For instance, in Christianity, Jesus never shamed or ostracized those of different religious backgrounds (occupying Romans and arguably even the Samaritan woman.) While his message primarily concentrated on the Jewish people during his time on earth, his disciples following the Great Commission then opened up the Gospel to all the nations. Acts is littered with examples of the Apostles winning nonbelievers over into the Church through persuasion. One example that springs to mind is Paul’s conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch, which he does through persuasion and explaining the Scriptures, not through fear or intimidation. As another angle, Christians (and indeed those of other faiths) also have an interest in promoting religious freedom to discourage laws that suppress the practice of their own faith, as well as laws that penalize those who convert or proselytize.

    • #2355
      Olivia Layne
      Participant

      Supporting the religious freedom of all faiths should be incredibly important to Christians for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it shows we have confidence in the Gospel and the saving work of Jesus to bring people to Christ Himself, rather than using oppressive government regimes or terror to create conversion. Secondly, it shows the love of Christ that we have in our hearts, not just for our Christian family but through those we know are not saved, and even those who sometimes persecute us. Lastly, it is essential to advocate for religious freedom for all religions because oftentimes, when those of other religions are persecuted, people look to the Christian church to advocate for those who are being attacked. It is unfortunate that the Christian church has fallen short in this area in many ways, oftentimes to maintain its own neutrality on the world stage. This is made even sadder by the fact that our example should be Jesus, who had no qualms about being persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

      • #2612
        Denise DeVatt
        Participant

        Olivia, I like that you pointed out that people do indeed look to the Christian church to advocate for those who are attacked. I honestly hadn’t considered that in responding to this, but it is good to remember. Thank you! I do feel like we have a duty as Christians and followers of Jesus to be the example, and that starts with respect of each individual’s religion, even if it isn’t the same as our own.

      • #2805
        Kenneth C. Jackson
        Participant

        Hi Olivia,
        Your second point is very powerful because it is the core value to our value in Christianity or in our fight for people of all faiths. You made mention of “Love” – it is that love that brought Jesus from his heavenly home to come down and fight for all of the world (John 3:16). I want to agree with you that the “Love of Christ that we have in our hearts” helps us to fight for people who don’t look like us and believe in our beliefs. I think love prompts us to even fight more and more for people who believe in difference deity other than ours.

    • #2611
      Denise DeVatt
      Participant

      Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. He did not say that we are allowed to differentiate between neighbors on the basis of anything, including ethnicity, religion, age, economic status, etc. We must stand up for religious freedom because that is exactly what Jesus would want us to do. We must stand up for religious freedom for all religions, not just the Abrahamic religions, because that is what is expected of us as followers of God. Going a step further, I believe we are called to promote religious freedom because of the past that we have with fighting against religious freedom, regardless of how long ago that may have been. If we want others to see the way and the truth, we have to show that, and that starts with basic respect of not just the individual’s religion, but also atonement when necessary.

      • #2648
        Jordan Leatherwood
        Participant

        Denise,

        I’m so happy to be responding to one of your threads! This reminds me of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well – who is a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans think differently than the Jews, maybe even worshipped differently, but yet it didn’t make a difference on how he interacted with her. According to custom, he shouldn’t have even gone through that area, but he wanted to have an impact on her life and their lives to show them love.

    • #2646
      Jordan Leatherwood
      Participant

      For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. -Galations 5:13

      Imagine growing up in a faith, let’s take Islam, for example. You believe in Allah and Mohammed is his prophet. You are being ruled by a Christian President, King, whatever title you’d like to give the person in power. This person makes it to where you cannot worship, you cannot pray, you cannot study, etc.

      What exactly starts to rise inside of you? Bitterness, anger, resentment, maybe even hatred for the person restricting you from practicing what will effect eternity for you.

      Flip the roles – you are a Christian in this exact same scenario.

      Do not use your freedom for the flesh, but to serve others and to love. This is why we must work on behalf of religious liberty around the globe.

      I truly believe our greatest witness to others, especially those of other religions, is to show them exactly how much we love and care for them – through the love in which He first loved us.

      At some point, it could be us who are persecuted and we would be looking deeply for mercy and relief.

      Let’s show that love to everyone, not just those who think like us.

    • #2706
      Evan Crain
      Participant

      There are rational and theological reasons to support pluralism. Rationally, although based in the Hebraic worldview, religious requirements have always resulted in persecution. The human condition to desire power and the potency of religion for expressing our spirits makes for perfect conditions for the abuse of power. Even in societies with religious freedom, passive persecution is common as any group (again, religion being the basis for tight communities) tend to fear and avoid anyone unlike them (e.g. the legalistic Baptists who literally frown on dancing, as a stereotype).
      Theologically, Christianity obligates respect for other’s beliefs as God respects our response to His holiness. From Nicholson’s article referenced in one of the lessons in this course: “Christians … believe in the Hebraic God—a deity who limits his own will out of respect for the will of man and the desire for a love that is uncoerced, voluntary, and true…” (“Islam is Different—and That’s Okay”)

    • #2804
      Kenneth C. Jackson
      Participant

      It is very important for Christians to fight for religious freedom for people of all faiths because, like some had said, ”It is critical to the health of any diverse society.” If a society is to be healthy in terms of peace, co-existence, freedom of expression, worship and gathering, then, Christians must muster the courage to fight for that right – religious freedom for other faiths. In fact, fighting for the rights of other faiths allows their religious practices and beliefs to flourish and blossom even in an unfriendly environment. For me, at this point, it is not about our faith again as Christians but about serving God’s people. It is worth noting that Christianity is about serving (fighting) for other people’s rights. As Christians, our faith is grounded in the belief that God is Sovereign over the affairs of entire earth and all that live within it (Psalm 24:1-2). God also given us the freedom to choose not to follow him or follow him. The question now is, why then should we stop others or not fight for others to enjoy this peace or freedom? Therefore, just as God has given all of us the freedom to choose and express ourselves, we must make sure that others from different faiths have the same freedom to their religious practices and beliefs and must live in peace irrespective of their faiths. In short, serving other faiths by fighting for their rights fosters peace and unity! But only God will separate the wheat from the weed in the Day of Judgment.

    • #3023
      Cara Brown
      Participant

      Religious freedom is an essential building block for a healthy, flourishing society, in every manner, whether socially, politically, and even theologically. First, society without freedom of conscience curtails individual thought and expression which is fundamental to the human experience. Similarly, it is politically advantageous for government to pursue a policy of tolerance. Freedom of conscience and expression require a government structure that permits and promotes a diversity of thought, including religious belief and practice. From a theological perspective, some may argue Christians cannot actively support religious freedom for all faiths as that would be denying the Gospel. Yet, each person must come to his or her own conclusions regarding faith and what he/she believes about the world. Is it not better to have freedom of conscience and also discourse so that we may practice and discuss our faith freely with others? Ultimately, we can love our neighbors and know God more fully with religious freedom than without.

    • #2046
      Madeline Hall
      Participant

      Hello Sarah, Absolutely agreed! People must be free in order to choose Christ and showing the love of Christ can never come through force and coersion. I believe by honoring someone’s own beliefs and loving them without limits, we are demonstrating Christ’s love. Only under this kind of freedom, can we share the gospel.

    • #2047
      Madeline Hall
      Participant

      Alex,

      I think that is such an important scripture to bring up. If we do not defend other’s beliefs, how can we expect them to stick up for us when the shoe is on the other foot? I also believe we are called to love and honor our neighbor as ourself and we cannot do that if we are persecuting them or siding with persecutors of their faith.

    • #2108
      Michael Caplan
      Participant

      Because simply put true faith can never be so unless it is freely chosen. It is contrary to all orthodox Christian faiths of today to affirm coercion as a means of conversion. A Christian ought to promote and defend religious liberty not as a concession but as part of the duty to love our neighbor, even when they reject the faith. Robust religious liberty aligns with authentic Christian charity and does not mean we sacrifice our principles or give in to relativism. On the contrary, it is a part of our fidelity to the faith that motivates us to protect the right to worship of others.

    • #2115
      Cristina Varela
      Participant

      Hi Alex,

      This question is also near & dear to me, and I so appreciate your perspective, as you hit the nail on the head.

      The human condition leaves us for longing for things not of this world- that certainly isn’t exclusive to Christians. All of us have a duty to seek the good, true, and the beautiful and to honor the freedom of all men and women everywhere to do the same as long as how they’re doing it isn’t hurting others’ ability to do so.

    • #2180
      Taylor Roth
      Participant

      Hi Alex,

      I loved reading through your post, and congratulations on your new internship! I completely agree with you that it is essential to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just our own. As you mentioned, God gives all mankind the free will to choose for ourselves what we wish to believe and practice. God also loves all of mankind dearly and, as Christians, it is essential for us to demonstrate this love to our fellow men and women of faith.

      Best,
      Taylor

    • #2320
      Joseph Danaher
      Participant

      Thanks Alex for your comments. I agree that it’s both right and called for theologically and pragmatically necessary. I genuinely believe it would be grave sin to use force or the law to prevent anyone from worshiping as they see fit. And I don’t think that’s simply an American value but something that is a deeply Christian value, as Pope Saint John Paul II expressed extensively. And pragmatically, you’re right. How can we expect freedom if we deny it to others? And how can we denounce others for denying freedom if we do to? It just literally makes no logical or theological sense to repudiate religious freedom. And it is politically a horrible idea as well.

    • #2129
      Alex Cevallos
      Participant

      Haley,

      I appreciate your reference of Scripture. It is full of wisdom. I agree how freedom of religion has an important role in the government. The concern is that the Church can apathetic to how other religions that are different do not play a significant role. Therefore, for example, the Judaism is a minority religion. Judaism is also a highly persecuted religion. If the Church simply does not care about Judaism then it is possible the world will not care about Christianity.

    • #2131
      Connie Hammond
      Participant

      Hi Dylan, I appreciate what you mentioned about viewing the dignity of each human person in high regard, holding respect and kindness to fellow man, and imago Dei. I like how you mentioned engaging others in the context of their religious practices. That is in alignment with the earlier Pathfinder lessons on always looking at the context of the situation. I think that is a very valuable life principle to live by. Evaluating the context is truly important. I like what you mentioned about how it is through the principles of religious freedom that a Christian society can flourish. That is very true.

    • #2281
      Collin Bastian
      Participant

      Hi Dylan,

      This is such a good point. The fact that other people have human dignity necessarily implies that we respect that human dignity – and we can do this through our religious and intellectual witness by respecting the opinions of others even when we disagree. Persecution, as you say, necessarily violates human dignity, and does not allow people to develop their relationship with God on their own. Even though people routinely come to wrong opinions on God and His nature, it is important that they take their own time to develop a relationship with Him, as no one else could do that for them.

    • #2333
      Harvest Prude
      Participant

      Hi Dylan, I appreciate how your response focuses on tolerance and respecting the God bestowed dignity inherent to each person. It also made me reflect that–when it comes to something as fundamental as what one believes, there is simply no way to truly enter the mind of another and coerce someone to believe what they do not. The whole idea and practice of forcible coercion thus does violence by requiring people to live in such a way that is contrary to their deepest beliefs, and is an insult to human dignity.

    • #2181
      Taylor Roth
      Participant

      Hi Thomas,

      Great job highlighting why it is essential for Christians to stand up for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and not just our own! I appreciate how you touched on how understanding history is essential to realize why the past has demonstrated how essential religious freedom is for the security and liberty of different faith communities. As Christians, it is also crucial to uphold religious freedom due to our recognition that mankind is created equal in the eyes of God, and our primary responsibility is to love our neighbors.

      Best,
      Taylor

    • #2238
      Dan Harre
      Participant

      Thomas,

      I agree with you. The Lord is not interested in forcing people into the Kingdom of God. Rather, He stands ready to meet those who approach Him. He recognizes that not all men will turn to Him, and He was content to make us this way.

    • #2239
      Dan Harre
      Participant

      Hunter,

      We really are so blessed as Americans. To think that religious liberty was once non-existent (in the way that we know it today) is so strange to me. The fact that the Lord used the Founding Fathers to usher in a new and better vision of religious tolerance is really incredible. For most of history before the founding, freedom of worship was little more than a naive aspiration. We are so blessed to enjoy the fruit of their efforts.

    • #2647
      Jordan Leatherwood
      Participant

      I believe this is why God gave Man free-will. Faith in Him isn’t true or authentic if He forces us to love and have faith in Him. If he is willing to give us that agency, we should be willing to fight for that agency for our fellow man.

      I agree that fighting for this liberty isn’t a concession. I would even argue it bolsters our faith more, pursuing a loving God in our actions of loving our neighbor.

    • #2904
      Hannah Longo
      Participant

      Grace, I thought your post was entirely accurate. If we want sincere converts, it is through tolerance and love, not coercion, that we will win them; this is evidenced by the crypto Christians of the 19th century. In addition, I think it is important to stand up for religious freedom for all because that is the very definition of religious freedom. It is not freedom if only our group is allowed. If we do not stand up for the rights of others, they will not advocate for us if we find ourselves in the same position someday.

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