This question is for Americans. Undeniably, despite the vast differences between atheists and agnostics on the one hand and the more exotic brands of Christianity that believe in snake handling and faith healing on the other, don't we have this in common: that we both depend upon respect for the Freedom of Religion guaranteed by The Bill of Rights? And thus shouldn't we step to their defense when the government wants to make an exception and prosecute them for their practices?
Remember, the mainstream religious community views us as pretty much in the same "religious weirdo" bag with the more wacko religious sects.
Steve is talking about constraints on freedoms. we all understand that a person has their personal freedoms unless and until the exercise of those freedoms impact on the expression of another person's freedoms.
that we can't forbid everything that endangers people's lives doesn't mean that we can't limit freedoms at all.
so there's no question that the constitution says that people can worship the way they want and that that freedom will be protected. but there's no question, as well, that there are limits on that freedom.
it boils down to what you mean in your opening post by "prosecute". if you take prosecution to mean any limits at all on a person's freedom to practice their religion then, okay, but it seems intuitively true that most people would disagree with you that a person should be able to do absolutely everything they may wish in the practice of their religion... if that is your position.
I'm asking where we draw the line. I know most of us would be happy to stamp out all religion, especially the theistic kind, but in so doing we need to be careful not to be assisting those who would erode the protections we enjoy.
Most people would cite protecting children from the religious freedom of their parents, for example. Just remember what Bill Maher once said: "When they come to take your rights away, they will do so in the name of protecting the children."
fair enough. that didn't seem to be what your post was about.
my answer would certainly be that it's going to be on a case by case basis.
there isn't going to be a line of demarcation that we can't point to that would cover every eventuality.
the constitution protects a parent's right to indoctrinate their kids. that may does suck but that's what the constitution provides. if we wanted to change that we'd have to pass a constitutional amendment.
so if what you're talking about goes all the way down to child indoctrination then that's the problem to overcome. all the rest goes down to a case by case basis.
While it may be "case by case," the judgment should be based on principles that don't shift case by case. So what principles would you use in adjudging such cases? We don't want religious people making up the rules as they go along, but neither should we!
Also, "indoctrination" isn't a neutral descriptor. It's a loaded word used by people who disapprove of the the doctrine being taught. When atheists tell their children that there's no evidence for the existence of God, we regard that as education. To a religious person it's atheistic indoctrination.
i'm sketching broad ideas here. if you want to actually formulate a hard and fast policy then okay. i personally have no interest in doing so. i'll leave that to others. but i would suggest that first principles include the fundamental "first, do no harm" in the sense that if a religious practice harms a child or another person then it should not be allowed (or at least serious consideration should be given to the question). and of course then the question is "what constitutes 'harm'?" and on and on and on...
i'm not trying to disclaim loaded words. i'm using terms both of us understand. i'm not writing so that people who approve of the doctrine being taught won't find my chosen words objectionable. you know what i mean when i say "indoctrination" and so are the other people reading this likely to know what i mean as well.
Yes, but the government prevents (legally at least) the distribution of cigarettes and other drugs to infants and toddlers.
Religious hate and indoctrination does not allow such things. Get 'em while they're young is the Christian motto.
I think they can handle themselves, since they're fairly well connected. O.o Realistically, how often does the U.S. government make 'an exception' that persecutes Christians/Christian practices?
Of course I do/would support a Christian's Freedom to Religion (but then, I get so sentimental about The Bill of Rights). Would I defend them...yes, but not too vociferously--I think they've got that covered! Would I leap up and advocate for their rights...not unless there were some other very troubling political trends at work.
What brought on this question?
I'm all for freedom of religion. That being, I must defend others if I also expect to be defended. I shall defend with great vigor your right to be a jackass who believes in gods and free of government intrusion into that jackassery.
I think we should absolutely defend some theists. As an atheist, I don’t see it as my responsibility to deny anyone their beliefs (within reason of course), only point out their absurdities.
The freedoms in the Constitution are not absolute. I have the freedom to do what I want or say what I want until it infringes upon the rights or safety of others. Like the old saying "Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my face begins". Or the old story about screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theater. The people who say, "Its a free country, I can do whatever I want" never read the constitution the same way most fundies who say "God did it" or "God said so" never read the bible. Having said that, most fringe religious organizations are on the "fringe" for a reason. They're nutty as a fucking fruitcake and potentially dangerous. Dozens of people die every year from handling rattlesnakes. Every year you hear a few news reports about people who do not pursue medical treatment for their children because"if their faith is strong enough, god will heal them". Subsequently, the children sometimes die. And for goodness sake, don't ever drink the koolaid.
The yard stick for this should, of course be harm to others. We already in the United States are not able to practice ritual sacrifice as a component of religious practice. For better or worse, the public majority should be able to impose restrictions when the possibility of harm exists. I already hear the screams coming... "Who gets to decide?!?". I know, I understand that it's a slippery slope that leads me straight to the "Theist Re-Education Camp" I got that. But I don't feel that, as an answer to your question, fringe religious groups should enjoy protection or my support simply because they are the underdog. There are NO examples of any of the groups contributing anything positive as a justification for that protection/support but there are an insufferable number of examples to the contrary.
Also, be careful who you support. Christians were once a small, nut-job fringe cult too.
My personal exclusion to my own opinion is when the practice will harm only the practitioner. If a Pastor wants to juggle rattlesnakes to show his faith, have at it. I whole-heartedly support Social Darwinism - Get the stupid ones early before they have a chance to reproduce. But when that Pastor puts the same snake in to the hands of another person who can't say no; maybe a child, maybe an indoctrinated adult who doesn't have the information to make an informed decision, then that act cannot be supported and cannot fall under religious protection simply because of the type of building it occurs in.