Is religious freedom really possible?
rick at LC.ORG
Mon Feb 10 11:24:16 PST 1997
Brad Pardee wrote (in part):
>As I've been reading the various posts, a question keeps coming back to
>me: Is it really possible for us to have religious freedom, all things
>considered? I guess I define religious freedom fairly simply: when
>forced to choose between obeying God and obeying government, being free to
>obey God, and in the best of all possible worlds, not being put in
>situations that force an either/or between the two.
In some sense, when we join society we forfeit some individual rights. We
remember the very reason that our patriot founders adopted the Bill of
Rights was to attmept some balance between the strong federal government and
individual liberties. The First Amendment inherently reflects this tension.
While we remain "citizens" of our State, we will most certainly be forced to
chose "either/or" between our religious "freedom" and the State's mandates.
(Of course, this "freedom" applies to all social interaction, not just
religious freedom.) As Hobes noted, the great Leviathan places us in a
position to contract with society. For certain "consideration" we gain some
benefits for joining in our community -- society (i.e. government services
such as police, fire protection, etc.).
John Locke wrote: "Though in a constituted commonwealth standing upon its
own basis and acting according to its own nature -- that is acting for the
preservation of the community, there can be but one supreme power, which is
the legislature, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate, yet the
legislature being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there
remains in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislature,
when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them. .
. . And thus the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving
themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even of their
legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish or so wicked as to lay and
carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject."
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