Clarifying religious persecution

By John D. Pierce

For many Americans there is a constant need for  clarification of religious persecution and liberty. Here is such an opportunity.

More than 20 persons attending a Baptist worship service May 28 in Taraz, Kazakhstan, were taken to a police station where they were photographed, fingerprinted and fined, according to the watchdog group Forum 18. This was one in a series of recent raids on this Christian group, with several individuals being charged with leading or participating in religious meetings without state permission.

Hopefully, such sad news can serve as clarification for many American evangelicals and opportunistic politicians: This is what violation of religious liberty really looks like.

Sure, there are real and reasonable debates about matters of religious freedom in our communities and nation. They need to be addressed thoughtfully to ensure religious liberty for both majority and minority faiths.

These issues will continue to surface as our nation becomes more diverse and those whose faith is culturally dominate feel the slipping away of political clout. But self-serving alarmism contributes nothing constructive to those debates.

Perhaps this example will help next time some American Christian foolishly harps about suffering persecution or losing one’s religious freedom when forbidden to use his or her religious-based bigotry to discriminate in the public arena or to enforce personally-preferred religious practices (FYI: beliefs can’t be coerced) with government might.

Religious freedom is a precious treasure. It should not be abused by raids on churches nor self-victimizing misrepresentation.

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