A statement from President Obama proclaiming January 16th national Religious Freedom Day.
Among other sentiments, President Obama expresses the following:
My Administration continues to defend the cause of religious freedom in the United States and around the world. At home, we vigorously protect the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs. Across the globe, we also seek to uphold this human right and to foster tolerance and peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own. We bear witness to those who are persecuted or attacked because of their faith. We condemn the attacks made in recent months against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, along with attacks against people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination.
But what really caught my attention was the quote from Jefferson at the beginning of the statement:
On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate Virginia’s 1786 Statute for Religious Freedom, in which Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion.”
And by argument to maintain. I wonder what is entailed by the criterion, if we can call it that, of “argument”? Perhaps Jefferson is simply borrowing from the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religious expression. Having a little Greek here would help support this view. “And by logos to maintain” which gives us both “speech” as well as “reason” or “argument”.
A public bus rolls by with an atheist message on its side: “Millions of people are good without God.” Seconds later, a van follows bearing a riposte: “I still love you. — God,” with another line that says, “2.1 billion Christians are good with God.
Add this to the “learn something new every day” category:
Misotheism doesn’t accord with binary thinking about religious belief. We are accustomed to view people as either believers, who worship a divinity, or nonbelievers (atheists) or doubters (agnostics), for whom the deity is irrelevant. Misotheists are a category-defying species: They believe in God (hence they are not atheists), but they hate him (hence they are not theists).
No. This isn’t a Photoshop mashup. Three world leaders, representing two of the three Abrahamic religions, are checking to see if it’s sunset yet. From HuffPo:
Prior to the start of their working dinner with President Barack Obama, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, check their watches to see if it is officially sunset, in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
I’ve had students go on their own to a worship service outside their own tradition, but here’s another spin on the same assignment.
Earlier this semester, Soni started a weekly “Souljourn” to explore that religious diversity, bringing students of different faiths to churches of different faiths, from Hare Krishna to Tao to Pentecostal.
On Sunday about 10 a.m., four Wiccans, a Buddhist, a Sufi and an agnostic filed up the rickety stairs to the balcony of the Virgin Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Hundreds of congregants filled the pews, many men wearing suit coats, women wrapped in gauzy white scarves. They chanted joyously with the choir in Amharic, tended restless children and clapped the deep detonations of the kubaro drum.
Only 23 and 24 percent of former Catholics and Protestants, respectively, became unaffiliated because they thought science disproves religion. By contrast, 55 and 53 percent of former Catholics and Protestants, respectively, became unaffiliated because they believe that religious people are hypocritical, judgmental or insincere. The unaffiliated account for 16 percent of the adult population, even though only 7 percent of the population was raised without religion.
“The study shows the continued rise of the spiritual-but-not-religious category,” said Stephen Prothero, who teaches in the department of religion at Boston University and is the author of “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – and Doesn’t.”
The Pew site is a goldmine of information. It’s well worth a few hours of browsing!