Are People Free To Believe Whatever They Want About God?
by Jonathan Morrow
Yes and no. If all that is meant here is that people should not be coerced or forced to believe something or follow a certain religion—then I wholeheartedly agree. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are extremely important principles to defend. The Manhattan Declaration captures this well: “No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience or to express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions.”
In his excellent book The Case for Civility, Os Guinness articulates a vision of what we should be after in public discourse about our various religious beliefs:
The vision of a civic public square is one in which everyone—people of all faiths, whether religious or naturalistic—are equally free to enter and engage public life on the basis of their faiths, as a matter of “free exercise” and as dictated by their own reason and conscience; but always within the double framework, first, of the Constitution, and second, of a freely and mutually agreed covenant, or common vision for the common good, of what each person understands to be just and free for everyone else, and therefore of the duties involved in living with the deep differences of others.
This is an example of what true tolerance is. True tolerance is where we extend to each other the right to be wrong. False tolerance, on the other hand…
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