TED Conversations

Lindsay Newland Bowker


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What are the limitations on freedom of religion?

In a recent Ted Conversation ( still ongoing) on the Israeli Palestine border, one of many side tracks led some of us to suggest that freedom of religions does not include advocating harm to others or teaching that harming non believers is not an offense. Do you agree that preaching and encouraging violence or harm to others is not protected under "freedom of religion"? Should organizations which use their places of worship to incite violence against others be afforded the full benefits under income tax law afforded to religious insitutions?

In addition to your thoughtful comments, I would invite you to vote on this at a google moderator set up to facilitate a Ted Conversation in common ground.


If you agree with that, what actions in law, remdies in law do you think should be taken. iwhen any religion uses its places of worship to incite violence and plan harm against others. Shoud those places of worship continue to enjoy the favorable tax status places o worship enjoy?

I guess a related question inextricably linked to this one is "Is tecahing of hatered for others based on gender, creed or , race protected under freedom of speech?


Closing Statement from Lindsay Newland Bowker

First thank you to all who contributed comment here. This question grew out of a grueling and deeply disturbing thread in a TED Conversation on the 1967 Palestine-Israeli Borders where the issue of Zionist and jihad teachings of violence justified by sacred text inevitably, unavoidably came up ( no matter how hard we tried to keep on topic) . After a few days ( or was it months?) of that I began to have zero tolerance for any preaching of hatred, any justification of killing, any urging to violence.
It was against that that I framed this question also thinking of the violence arising out of religious based anti- abortion against doctors, clinics and Planned Parenthood.
I framed the question because I wanted to work this through with others and thought it would be a long term discussion, so had posted it as “open –ended”. But it turned out it was quite simple really and that lots of good lead work had already been done so we found the answer almost immediately in Canadian Law, California Law and Australian Law. So I asked TED admin to close it as we had pretty much answered what we set out to answer.
Canada, as usual, was way out in front of the curve. Their law makes “hate speech” a crime..wherever it originates and makes it a separate crime ( and a double count) to engage in hate speech in public. End of story really. There’s the answer. There’s the model
In the U.S. California Law does not quite go as far but goes a lot further than what the courts had decided with reference to the constitution , but nevertheless consistent with the constitution. The California Law does not make “hate speech” a crime but does make inciting to violence a crime.
I learned that the history of “religious freedom” in the U.S. had rested on and was found within 1st amendment, the free speech amendment, and that dealing with hate speech and inciting to violence only came into play when an actual act of violence was committed as a further aggravation.
In all cases, quite soundly, the responsibility for the “hate speech” or “inciting to violence” is at the level of the individual.
We didn’t really get too far into the idea that tax payers shouldn’t fund ( through tax exemptions) place of worship or religious practice which teach hate and violence. We did learn though that the IRS exemptions of “churches” ( who are not required to file at all except for certain types of income) was intended to guarantee the separation of church and state. Inevitably , any attempt to remove the tax exemption for preaching “hate speech” would come too close to violating that separation. So we decided that avenue of removing beneficial tax status for “hate speech” wasn’t doable.
I learned a lot. I learned what I set out to learn. Thank you all.

I thank you all.

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    Jun 14 2011: Carissima Lindsay you are cordially invited to participate in our new conversation about joy de vivre. We hope your experience in this typical mediterranean way of life.
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      Jun 14 2011: I accept with pleasure.

      Non un avvertimento a tutti il mio amico, solo un invito a proseguire le discussioni non inerenti a questo argomento altrove.

      Hai visto il mio invito ad avere parli alla mia conversazione su sistemi di credenza dei lavori del Reverendo Padre Nicolas? Ho già incollato un preventivo vi e indicò il suo importante lavoro.

      Buona Notte per me (Buongiorno a voi
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        Jun 14 2011: Yes, Lindsay, you are right. I just explained to you in another reply (that doesn't seem to want to leave my pc) that I realise we went off the subject and that I will put a stop to that. My regards.
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          Jun 14 2011: Gustavo .see you at the Cafe and hope that if you have input here on tis topic you will continue to be engaged here as well.

          The cafe wasa great idea..I'm about to stop by for a capuccino and a biscotti.

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