Freedom OF and Freedom FROM

religion, that is.

Today’s Age online had this article: MPs attack Bible ‘madness’, in which several MPs rail against the ban on bibles being handed out at citizenship ceremonies. One quote in particular proves that you can have a law degree, be an MP and still not understand basic principles:

Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett told the Coalition party room this was ”political correctness gone mad. There should be freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Whether Barnett likes it or not, or whether he agrees with me or not, I think he is absolutely wrong and either has little idea about what freedom from religion entails or is so blinded by his Christianity that he doesn’t care. I however do heartily agree with the response by OzAz posted at March 02, 2011, 1:43PM (comment 130). I have reproduced here it in it’s entirety, with permission.

I hope Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett, and the other deluded people who have no clue as to what “freedom of religion and freedom from religion” means, reads this comment if nothing else.

Freedom OF religion means to have the freedom to choose whatever religion you like.
Freedom FROM religion means you have the freedom not to have any one religion forced on you.

A country without freedom FROM religion enshrined in their constitutional system (something Australia doesn’t have) is always in danger of becoming a theocracy.

I’m sure some of the Liberal MPs and Christian’s commenting here would be quite happy with that, if it was a Catholic Theocracy.

But would you be happy with that if we became a Muslim Theocracy, under Sharia Law? Or maybe even a Hillsong, Exclusive Brethren or Church of Scientology Theocracy? I think not.

Get it into your head, Freedom FROM Religion doesn’t prevent anyone practising whatever religion they want. It just prevents any one religion taking over all the others and forcing everyone to practice that one religion.

It also means everyone is perfectly entitled not to be involved with any religion if they don’t want to.

Personal choice, I wants it; Freedom OF and Freedom FROM lets me have it.

I really do hope Barnett reads it, he obviously requires the education.

There are some other excellent comments, particularly the ones pointing out that government at any level should not be handing out bibles in a supposedly secular nation. Several comments also point out the problem with only handing out Christian bibles, especially as many of the new citizens are Muslims and a Koran would be more suitable to them.

As OzAz points out, freedom of religion and freedom from religion is not documented in Australia’s Constitution and probably should be. At least it should be in a Bill of Rights, something that we almost got but government decided we didn’t need, despite many people, myself included, wanting.

Do you agree that “Freedom of religion and freedom from religion” should be enshrined in either our constitution, or at least a Bill of Rights? If not you better have a very good reason, and I’d like to hear it.

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3 Comments

Filed under bible, religion

3 responses to “Freedom OF and Freedom FROM

  1. Nothing to add.

    However, if they get to hand out Bibles I will do doing everything in my power to ensure everyone gets a copy of “The God Delusion” as well.

  2. The thing about it is, Freedom OF and Freedom FROM are exactly the same thing; you can’t have one without the other. I can’t be free to choose my own religion unless I’m free from a government-imposed religion (freedom from), and I can’t be free from religion (free to choose no religion) if I don’t have freedom of religion. I understand that it helps to demonstrate what Freedom of Religion truly means by rephrasing it, but I think it needs to be pointed out that it’s a clarification, not a distinction.

    But yes, I would absolutely support us having a Bill of Rights, and it including freedom of religion. I think maybe when we inevitably become a republic, it would be a good time to sort out all those sorts of things we’ve been meaning to fix forever; fixing the constitution, including a bill of rights in it, changing the national anthem to “Happy Little Vegemites”…all that important stuff.

  3. Pingback: Ken's Cushion » The Freedom of Belief? Really?

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