Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The future of religious freedom in America

I'm just catching up on things that have been sitting around for awhile, so the half-dozen or so of you who are regular readers might have already read this elsewhere, but I found it interesting.  Rod Dreher reported here on a conference regarding the future of religious freedom in the United States, sponsored by the magazine First Things.  This isn't the first time First Things has gotten into this kind of provocative discussion; many years ago, I recall them hosting a symposium on the end of democracy in America.

These discussions often seem extreme, and yet how many things that once seemed equally extreme are taken for granted today?  No, the time to discuss them is now, before they reach critical mass, but to look at them with a level head, rather than a Chicken Little sky-is-falling mentality.  Don't panic - but on the other hand, don't poo-poo it either.

Anyway, Dreher links back to a past article asking whether or not Catholicism and liberal democracy are fundamentally irreconcilable.  It's a discomforting question, one that makes you uneasy regardless of how you feel about it.  It's well worth your time reading all the articles linked to here, and thinking about your response to it.  Despite the results of the elections a couple of weeks ago, which might broadly be considered a victory for conservatism - which, though not to be equated with religious freedom, nonetheless represents an ideology perhaps less hostile to religion - I remain vaguely pessimistic about the whole thing.  We already know that the America in which I grew up is gone forever, let alone the America that our forefathers remember.  The questions remain - how far gone?  And what, in fact, does America stand for anymore?  Can you stand for it as well, or do you feel like a stranger in your own strange land?

Make no mistake that I'm still thankful for living in this country, which may well have the worst system in which to live except for all the rest, but what will the future bring for us?  And are we prepared to make a stand for our beliefs?  Who, indeed, knows?

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