Should a religious person be able to say whatever they want? Should a religious person be able to refuse specific actions in the workforce? Do religious people deserve extra protection?

These are the questions which will dominate political discussion in 2020. These are the questions which will aim to turn a clouded, grey line into a clear, black and white divide. Is it possible?

For me, my thoughts are like a maze which is impossible to escape from. You take one path and think you have found the exit, only to find a dead-end, have to retrace your steps and choose a new route. My thoughts are muddled, and my opinions divided, however; I am beginning to reach a sense of understanding.

A draft religious freedom bill was introduced in November 2019 which caused havoc in the media and throughout communities. The law prohibits discrimination in certain areas of public life on the ground of religious beliefs or activity. However, the main concern is that religious bodies can discriminate on the grounds of religion where their conduct is “in good faith and may reasonably be regarded as being in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of their religion”. This means that religious schools could refuse to hire somebody who does not adhere to that religion, but it does not license the sacking or refusal of a gay teacher.

As for other parts of the bill which were heavily advertised and scrutinised, I will not talk explicitly on them now, as they are currently under review

So what do I believe?

I believe that all people should be able to say whatever they want unless it incites violence or promotes bullying. I think that at times restrictions must be placed upon what religious people can say or do to allow for the value of a human to not be undermined.

However, I also think that as a society, we need to improve our capacity to accept another person’s opinion. If you are not religious and someone comes up to you and says that you are going to hell, I can’t understand how that has any impact on your life whatsoever? If a religious person is merely talking about their religion, and you don’t believe it, then it has zero relevance to you. In those instances, I think religious people should have the capacity to speak freely, it is up to the people listening to ignore the comments.

I firmly believe that if we all disagreed and debated on ideas and not on emotions or feelings, this wouldn’t be an issue. The skill of disagreement must be taught at a young age and developed through education. The ability to utterly oppose every word that someone is saying but respond respectfully is vital within a changing society where more opinions are freely available than ever before.

You can’t tell someone how to respond to a comment. What you can do is teach people the skills of discussion and expose them to different opinions.

We will never be able to have a black and white line. However, learning how to disagree and accept others is our only choice in ensuring the width of the grey line becomes a little bit narrower. 

So, what do you think? Should religious people be able to speak freely? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or through my social media! Also feel free to follow my blog or Instagram to keep updated!

27 thoughts on “The Grey Line: Religious Freedom

  1. Hello Levine. I think you are missing the point a bit. It is not about a persons thoughts, beliefs, or speech. It is about actions. No one is suggesting or forcing a religious person to change their beliefs but we are saying they can not act on them against others in the public square. For example Kim Davis, who refused to do her job and issue a marriage license to a same sex couple. She had the right to her opinion about same sex marriage, however she had no right to refuse to do her job. She was forcing her religious beliefs on to others. So this is why the religious freedom laws are smoke screens designed to allow people to discriminate against those they do not agree with or like. Here is how you can tell they are wrong. In the example above with Kim Davis remove “same sex couple” and replace it with “black couple”. How do her actions look now? Can you see how it is not religious freedom she wanted, but the right to deny others things she doesn’t like. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry for taking a while to reply. The majority of my article was about religious freedom of speech. In terms of religious actions, I didn’t comment explicitly on them because the legislation was still under review. I agree that religious beliefs shouldn’t impede the productivity of the workforce. I believe in religious freedoms for individuals but not necessarily for institutions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Before I offer my thoughts on your post, I urge you to change the color of your blog comments. Scottie’s comment is essentially unreadable. And mine will probably also be until you make this modification.

    Now as to my thoughts. One comment you made stands out: If you are not religious and someone comes up to you and says that you are going to hell, I can’t understand how that has any impact on your life whatsoever? You can’t understand how this would impact a person? You are either very dense or saturated by religious thinking.

    Granted, this is a country of free speech. However, it’s common sense to take into consideration the impact our words have on others.

    As I’ve said many times and in many places … freedom of religion means YOU may worship whatever god you believe in and no one can put restraints on that. But it also means that people who do NOT have religious faith should not be subjected to actions that are religious in nature.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I will look to change the colours of my blog. I am still figuring out how to change the colour of the comment boxes. I can understand that it can have an impact on people. However, the direct translation of the words for someone who is non-religious is, “you are going to an imaginary place after you die”. That comment is completely irrelevant to you and should not have any impact. Although, I can understand that it creates a divide in the community which can have serious damages. Please do not debate on personal characteristics. Only debate on ideas, otherwise, I will be unable to continue the discussion.

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      1. Hello Levine. I think the point is when a religious person is threatening a person of another faith or no faith with the punishment of their hell it is an attack on that person. It is not so much the threat is real as what it says about how the person feels about the targeted persons right, their worth, and it is a dismissive. It is a “belief as I do or your are less than me and deserve punishment” statement. Religious freedom is the right to practice your religion, not the right to oppress others to force them to live by your religious doctrines. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I see what you mean and I agree with you when you talk about targeting people and making them feel ‘lesser’. This argument I haven’t heard much from people but I do agree with you. The words of others shouldn’t make someone else feel less worthy, that is where issues rise. I just don’t think we can ever have an objective law due to the differing reactions of people to the same comment. What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hello Levine. Again when it comes to attitudes and speech I think education is the answer. Helping people get over their indoctrinated hatreds which are fueled by incorrect information and in some cases lies like the idea that pedophilia is trying to be added to the LGBTQ+ is wrong and has been fully debunked. But because these narratives fit with a person’s biases and bigotry they give them credence. Where action and legislation does need to be directed is to harmful actions. Attempts to deny people equal rights based on religious views. For example Kim Davis, former county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky who gained international attention in August 2015 when she defied a U.S. federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She used her religion as an excuse not to do her job and deny same sex couples their legal equal rights. She has a right to her belief but not to violate the law, and not to refuse to do the job she is paid for. Her choice was do her job or resign. Instead she demanded her religion, her belief take a higher place in our secular society than the laws of the land. Actions that cause harm to others in the mane of religion simply have to be stopped and outlawed. Think of it this way. Would the special rights demanded by Christianity be allowed by them of other religions. They want God in schools, on police vehicles. Can we also do that with the Islamic word for god? How about the Hindu gods? See it is a privilege thing these freedom of religion laws are being pushed for. The special rights of Christians and only christians to push their religion on others. That’s why they are so dangerous. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Thank you very much again for your detailed response. I agree with your comments, especially how you point out the hypocrisy of many people during this debate, only focusing upon Christianity, and not the other religions which are becoming more prominent. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. YAY! The colors on your blog are much better now!

    I apologize if you felt I was debating a “personal characteristic” (I assume you were referring to my remark related to how a person would feel if they were told they were “going to hell”). Please understand my response was not directed to you personally, although I can see how it would have been taken that way. In any case, my point was that directing a threat like this (using those exact words) is hardly a way to have a serious conversation with a non-believer.

    As to whether or not religious people can speak freely … of course they can! But as with any form of speech, one must be considerate of others. There’s a time and place for everything. And more importantly, nothing is accomplished by attacking others … on either side.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I was able to change them yesterday!

      No I was referrring to the clear comment where you called me dense. That is a personal ‘attack’ or personal comment on me which was unneccesary.

      Regardless, sure it may not be a way to have a serious conversation with a non-believer, but I don’t know if that matters. A religious person can speak however they want to unless it incites violence or encourages bullying. Comments like those should be merely ignored and looked down upon by the rest of the community in a respecful way.

      It is the same case if a Muslim person said the exact same comment. I can guarantee that the community reaction would be very different. People would just say, well I’m not Muslim, I don’t know any Muslims, so I’m just going to ignore that comment because it doesn’t impact. Religious freedom is about all religions, not just Christianity which often makes the news. Thoughts?

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  4. I liked your point about the need for both the ability to speak freely about religion, as long as it does not attempt to incite violence (I also draw the line here, but this applies to any form of belief that suggests violent action), as well as the need for us as a society to become better at learning to “agree to disagree” on our opinions. I think that it is necessary for everyone to have the ability to spread ideas in a respectful environment – otherwise, I don’t think we would grow as people without being exposed to an array of ideas and beliefs. I think it is often easier to take offense to different opinions and beliefs that do not align with our own (I am guilty of this as well), rather than accepting that two people can still get along with a difference in opinion. However, I think that a person’s individual beliefs should not always interfere with their careers (in most circumstances). Thoughts?
    (Sorry if this comment was a little disjointed).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amazing summary of your thoughts! And I completely agree with you! I loved how you talked about the importance of different opinions allowing us to grow. This is something I haven’t considered before, but I totally agree with! I think it is just natural for people in this era to become ultra mad and to be against everything, instead of using other people’s words to learn, adapt and grow. I couldn’t agree more!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think religious people should be permitted to “Speak” freely as long as they do not promote hatred, violence or immorality with their speech. I do not think they should always be allowed to “Act” freely because if they were, then things like Polygamy and Pedophilia might become viewed as a “New Norm” of human expression … (and other disgusting things.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Polygamy and Pedophilia would not be legal if it did not abide by legislation .. that is true … But there is another problem with legislation. The problem with legislation is that it has already condoned, made legal and promoted such things as Homosexuality. There was a time when the moral fabric of a people would prohibit passing laws allowing perversion and making it appear to be the new normality. If legislation is not based on moral principles then it is going to be no time at all before the higher perversions such as Pedophilia will, in fact, be made legal. There is already at least one movement to designate Pedophilia as an extension of normal human sexual expression and they are trying to get LGBQT changed to LBGQTP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I see what you mean. There are always risks and things that need to be considered when changing legislation. I think it is also a case of moral principles shfiting. Not changing altogether, but definitely moving in different directions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. and the morals we consider right today will absolutely disappear altogether and degrade into primal savagery if someone of moral integrity does not arise to start the needed changes to preserve what we have.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s everybody’s job but the increasing secularization of the world community is pushing morality and values farther and farther into the pit of forgetfulness.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Religious freedom only gives one the right to do/no do things themselves that have an impact on themselves. They cannot impose their views on others. E.g., believer does not get an abortion, will not marry a person of the same gender, will go to a place of worship etc. To call other religions as animists, idol worshippers etc. in a pejorative fashion is insulting them. Issues such as morals/ethics could be influenced by one’s religious beliefs but religion is not a prerequisite.

    Liked by 3 people

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