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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What is Religious Freedom?

Religious freedom means that an individual or group can:
Without oppression, believe, worship and witness (or practice freedom from belief, worship and witness), as they wish;
Change their beliefs or their religion at any time; and
Associate with others to express their beliefs.

With the arrival of the new millennium, religious freedom seems to be gradually changing its meaning. When it is discussed in the media today, it often refers to the freedom for an individual, clergy person, or denomination to express condemnation, spread misinformation or disinformation, exclude, denigrate, oppress, refuse to deal with others, and/or express hatred towards other individuals or groups. Often, the right to restrict the civil rights of the targeted groups is included. Most frequently, women and sexual minorities are the victims; the latter are commonly referred to as the LGBT community, made up of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

In brief:
Religious freedom used to mean freedom of belief and practice.
In recent decades, the definition has been changing.
It is becoming: the use of religious belief to justify hatred of others, to legitimate discrimination against them, and/or to urge that their civil rights be limited.
That is, religious freedom used to mean freedom to express one's faith. It is becoming the freedom to denigrate others, oppress others, or withhold services from others for religious reasons. A very common expression of this new form of religious freedom and liberty is found in conscience clauses governing behavior in the workplace. 

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