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Are laws that prohibit religious freedom as dangerous as laws that mandate it?

What role should government play in religion, if any? Are laws that criminalize religion, as, more, or less dangerous to citizens than laws that force religion?
Where is the line between religious, cultural, and national identity?
Should we strive for a world of religious tolerance, or a world without religion?
Is either world possible.
Please include any experiences of religious discrimination, you may have experienced.
If your comments should be your honest opinions, experiences, but I will remove any comment I deem in the spirit of hate rather than debate.

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    Aug 19 2011: I agree with Mark in his remarks below, we should strive for individual liberty. Religion does not play a part in politics or in creating laws because everyone does not have the same faith. I use faith because some don't have a structured religion. Even in America were we have religious freedom, the media and some politicians acts like if you are not christian you are not American, which is the opposite principles the country was founded on. I want people to workship their God on the weekend and come monday do what is decent and good for their commom and not degrade them or alienate them. By my picture you can tell I don't fit into a minority section but it is what I feel is right for people.
    • Aug 19 2011: I have to disagree with your statement that religion does not play a part in American politics, I will just go with the obvious example of gay marriage in America, which is generaly a non issue among secular people and is ussualy fought against with the financing of religous groups.It is also commonly understood that if you don't play the part of a Christian in America you can kiss the chance of holding political office goodbye, not to mention you cannot hold office in 7 states if you are an atheist/nonbeleiver. I agree with you in the idealogical sense but feel the reality is not what we claim it to be. Also to your weekend religion comment I cant agree with more and have often stated "Make religion a hobby"
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    Aug 19 2011: I believe that people should be free to conceptualize the world and religion as they choose to within the confines of their own lives. I think, however, it is well within the right of a society to limit the influence of those ways of thinking on the collective good.
  • Aug 22 2011: Nope.

    To quote something I found in Google:
    'Religion is like one's genitles: keep it your pants and don't ram it down you child's throat!'

    Facetious as this may be, it's fundamentally true. Indoctrinating children in one belief system or another is tantamount to child abuse. Religions know full well that their veracity devoid, fanciful teachings are not something that lend themselves to followers were it not for extenuating circumstances (i.e., nonage, lack of education, disenfranchisement et cetera).

    There need to be laws enacted to protect children from having their parents' brainwashing 'infect' their innocent, developing brains. Once the seed of insanity is sowed, it's nearly impossible to completely eradicate; as has been evinced so many times recently. If a mature adult CHOOSES to worship the Easter Bunny, that's their CHOICE. A child does not have the tools to make such choices.

    No child will strap themselves with explosives and blow themselves up in a crowded marketplace on the promise of "72 virgins" without an element of influence. Just sayin'... >_>
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    Aug 19 2011: "Should we strive for a world of religious tolerance, or a world without religion?"

    We shouldn't strive for either. We should strive for individual liberty.
    • Aug 21 2011: So individual liberty would naturally include same-sex marriage, plural marriage, and freedom to partake in one's drugs of choice? Does individual liberty also include the right to abuse the defenseless? What about favoring one religion over another? Should those also fall under the mantle of "individual liberty"?

      Perhaps we should strive for tolerance, and use societal constraints to limit egregious acts of intolerance.
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        Aug 21 2011: I would hope that one would take a more nuanced view of maximizing individual liberty. Allowing the abuse of the defenseless, or anyone else for that matter, reduces liberty as does favoring one religion over the other.

        What I meant by striving for individual liberty is basically the same thing John Rawls states in his first principle of justice:

        "Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others."
        • Aug 22 2011: Thank you Mark, for expanding a bit on what you meant by individual liberty. But I am still puzzled by some of the "nuances' in this expanded definition. For instance, what constitutes a "similar liberty"? One interpretation of John Rawl's words is that I should be free to discriminate against you by refusing to hire you or allow you to enter my place of business because you are left-handed, as long as you are free to discriminate similarly against me. I think some more "nuances" are needed in the definition of "individual liberty". Basically, are you going to treat me with respect if I treat you with respect?
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        Aug 22 2011: Carlin, you are only responding to half of Rawls' principle. The phrase "most extensive basic liberties" is at least as important. You need to ask if the situation that allows for arbitrary, even if equal, discrimination promotes the most extensive basic liberties for the people under that system compared to one where discrimination is allowed.

        If you are really interested in the nuances, Rawls' "Theory of Justice" combined with Robert Nozick's rebuttal, "Anarchy, State, and Utopia", should provide you with endless entertainment.

        For specific discussion on private property and discrimination, I'll point you to my response to an earlier thread rather than retyping: http://www.ted.com/conversations/3994/private_property_rights.html
        • Aug 22 2011: Actually I WAS responding to "both halves" of Rawls' principle:
          "Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty..." (In my example, the right to discriminate.) and "... compatible with a similar liberty for others." (In my example, the right of the discriminated-against to similarly discriminate.)

          Recall that I asked "... what constitutes a "similar liberty"? Apparently you consider that the right to not be discriminated against is similar to the right to discriminate. But that is not apparent in Rawls' wording, and you have not yet clarified that point.

          I think that my earlier wording conveys the point with more clarity: "Perhaps we should strive for tolerance, and use societal constraints to limit egregious acts of intolerance."
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        Aug 22 2011: What Rawls is getting at is that our fundamental concern is freedom. But he acknowledges that individual freedoms can conflict with each other. So his answer is to maximize the freedom of everyone as much as possible so long as you can do it for everyone. It's very simple and very general, which leaves a lot of specific questions unanswered—questions like those about discrimination. I think Rawls would say that a system that allowed for discrimination but somehow also universally maximized individual liberty would be preferred to one with less liberty and no discrimination. Good luck though with figuring that system out.

        The greater point is that liberty is the fundamental value, more so than tolerance because tolerance requires an existing set of values that you are willing tolerate and those you aren't. When dealing with a plurality of values how do you choose? For instance, if you say that you want to maximize tolerance, do you tolerate pedophiles? Do you tolerate kleptomaniacs? Why not? The answer is because to tolerate those you must tolerate people impeding on the liberty of others and you are back to maximizing liberty.You are only willing to push tolerance so far and that limit is defined by individual liberty of others—the value and limits of tolerance are derived from the value of liberty.

        None of this is new; theorists and philosophers have been chewing on this problem for centuries and at least since the enlightenment they keep coming back to liberty and freedom.
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    Aug 25 2011: Should we strive for a world of religious tolerance, or a world without religion? None of them , the idea of tolerance is Very silly one and the second wouldn't happen even though partially it should happen.
    • Aug 26 2011: None of that made sense, I would very much enjoy it if you explained your reasoning, and the basis from which your conclusions are derived, and went into a bit more detail into what you are trying to express. Please and thank you
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        Aug 26 2011: You know, I don't think I have to explain myself any more , why should I ? Take them just like some ideas .
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    Aug 22 2011: Surely the idea of mandating or prohibiting a belief; not an intention or an action, should strike everyone as odd.
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    Aug 22 2011: mark summed up my feeling about this.
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    Aug 21 2011: I think the USA, for one shouldn't be called America, is a good example of how you can have a set of rules that mean well and a reality that is indifferent. Here in the US the power that goes along with a position in certain government branches outweighs our citizens loyalty to our countries policies.
    • Aug 21 2011: A country denotes a geographic area not a political one. Don't worry I can be a bit of a terminology stickler to. :) I don't exactly understand your point, when it seems to be more of a matter of a citizen majority acting against constitutional policy, rather than any specific governmental body.
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        Aug 21 2011: These people were talking about how a persons religions should just be their own. This country the USA was founded on that and individual liberties. However, now christianity is flexing it's power over the divided remainder of the people through the government.
    • Aug 22 2011: I agree that using the name "America" to refer to the USA is pretty chauvinistic. I suppose that the other 21 North American, Central American and South American nations must get a little miffed. Unless, of course, the bumper stickers that say "God Bless America" are intended to include all 22 American nations.
      • Aug 22 2011: Ok didn't mean anything by refering USA as America its not that big of a deal and detracts from the original debate. When I posted this USA's stance didn't realy even interest me, I was thinking more on France making it illegal for individual's to where the hajib.
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    Aug 19 2011: I think keeping the government out of religion is the best idea. In America I feel we have a pretty good system of it.