Thomas Jefferson was the author of religious freedom in America… as the First Amendment borrows its language from his Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. Like all men of the Enlightenment, Jefferson believed it was built upon the individual. The individual was born free to worship, or not, in anyway he saw fit.
“…nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”
Author of Religious Freedom
Jefferson clearly draws the line between the public citizen and his private religious beliefs… the freedom to worship remained a private decision- not to be propagated in the public sphere. Jefferson acknowledged the dangers of a state-sponsored religion, but he also realized that religious zealotry could threaten civil liberties.
He cautioned his friend, James Madison:
“The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error.”
The recent Islamic terror attacks in Paris… have reignited the debate over so-called “Islamophobia” and discrimination against Muslims. The actions of a minority seem to be attracting more scrutiny to all followers of the religion. The discussion as to what “moderate” Muslims must do to combat radicals in their faith is completely legitimate.
Good, Christian Men?
Examples of violence against Muslims are being exploited… now for greater political gain. Such attacks are cowardly and counterproductive- but the reaction to them is becoming just as dangerous. Social media is buzzing with the awful comparison of Islamic motivation for terrorism and Christian ties to the Holocaust. Some are even going as far as to portray Hitler as some kind of Christian warrior exterminating the Jews for Jesus’ sake. The misguided attempts to defend moderate Muslims have hoisted this clumsy moral equivalency on an overly-impressionable millennial generation. Social media is alive with “Don’t blame Muslims for Paris, unless you blame Christians for the Holocaust.” This tripe passes for intellectualism to younger people today….
No reasonable scholar has ever considered National Socialism as… anything but a political and ideological movement. The leading scholar on Hitler and Nazism, Dr. Ian Kershaw, considered Hitler’s religious ramblings a farce; the dictator was in fact anti-christian. Using Christianity as a convenient tool for propaganda is a far cry from killing people in the name of a religion, citing its holy book as your dogma.