Stuart Reid: Translations of religious tolerance in society

By Stuart Reid, For the Deseret News

Published: Fri, July 25, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT


Recently, there have been a number of columns admonishing those contending for religious freedom to extend tolerance and respect to all. While these are well meaning and altogether axiomatic, their implication may not be so obvious.

Certainly, all of us should be tolerant in our personal interaction with others. Neither within the general cultural conflict nor as it includes the specific clash over religious freedom should individuals be diminished or shamed, whatever side they may be representing. Even more, we are obligated to succor those who suffer and nurse the wounded.

Nevertheless, calling for tolerance should never mean that those vigorously contending for religious freedom — the freedom necessary to secure the moral well-being of society, vital to the sustainability of the Republic — should shrink and withdraw to demonstrate they are nice.

Nor should toleration translate into weakening the resolve or compromise the effort to contend for the free exercise of religion against the forces trying to rob religion and people of religious conscience from their full access to the public square.

In other words, we do not contend against individuals but against corrupt governments and powers. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul declared: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Unfortunately, the tainted tolerance of this generation is so acculturated to debauched powers in high places that President Obama has no compunction issuing an executive order extending special sexual rights to some while disrespecting religious rights of others.

Moreover, the judiciary now feels at leave to rule that advancing morality in the law is “animus” or hostility towards others and therefore unconstitutional. Oh how far this nation has fallen because of tainted toleration for the immoral, exacerbated by efforts to exorcise religious rights out of the public square.

In contrast to this generation’s growing disdain for religious rights protecting moral standards in society, the Founding Fathers presciently added the First Amendment to the Constitution, declaring religion’s inherent liberties. In so doing, they expected that religion and people of religious conscience would exercise these liberties to fulfill the important role of securing the future of the Republic by advancing morality in society.

George Washington explained in his 1796 farewell address that: “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”

John Adams proclaimed: “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” He further stated: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

This generation’s tainted tolerance is too often promulgated to persuade the public that religion’s rights should be limited to within the confines of faith sanctuaries, not to interfere with anyone else. The Founding Fathers’ vision was just the opposite. Like never before, they memorialized religious rights and freedoms in the Constitution as first and inherent. In so doing, they set the course for religion to diversify and multiply; thereby preserving the Republic, that according to them, depends on a religiously free and moral people to sustain it.

Obviously, more passionate people are needed to contend for religious liberties or those liberties will be lost. And as John Adams warned: “Liberty once lost, is lost forever!” If religious liberties are lost, then this will be the generation that lost the Republic. At all cost, we must prevent that, even if it means others may be offended by it. To do less, will result in the de facto abdication of the Republic depended upon the moral advocacy of a religiously free people.

Stuart C. Reid is a member of the Utah State Senate.

1. marxist
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 25, 2014

"Nor should toleration translate into weakening the resolve or compromise the effort to contend for the free exercise of religion against the forces trying to rob religion and people of religious conscience from their full access to the public square."

Well who is trying to do what? Organized religion occupies a privileged and powerful position in American life - for one thing its properties are not taxed and most government services are provided to it free of charge. Is anyone trying to end that privilege? No.

Is anyone trying to keep people from going to church or in other ways to participate in their religion? No.

Is religion being restricted from the "public square?" Today's public square is the internet and organized religion is well represented there. So the answer here is again no.

In return for all of this slack, what does some of organized religion want? They want to interfere in the employer/employee relationship, granting "religious" employers special privileges in their dealings with their employees.

Also, religions are not accorded equal respect. Some Native American religions require the use of peyote. This they are not allowed to do. Freedom of religion?

2. Blue
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 25, 2014

Yes, Adams and Washington were founders, but they were not involved in the far more rigorous process of drafting the constitution and codifying the relationship between the freedoms of individual citizens and the roles, responsibilities and conduct of their government.

Moreover, it would be helpful if Sen. Reid could offer less hand-wringing and hyperbole (the bit about Obama and "special sexual rights" is a beauty) and instead offer some specifics as to exactly what freedoms he thinks he's losing,when basic constitutional rights are applied uniformly to all citizens.

3. KJB1
Eugene, OR,
July 25, 2014

And yet another person who thinks that "religious freedom" means forcing other people to live by his beliefs. What else is new?

4. FreedomFighter41
Provo, UT,
July 25, 2014

"When you say "radical right" today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye."

- Barry Goldwater

How strange is it that Barry would be considered a liberal today?

5. liberal larry
salt lake City, utah,
July 25, 2014

The writer seems to be is saying that if we take away the "rights" of religions to control us we are actually restricting freedom of religion?

Good luck persuading the Supreme Court we should restrict SSM, with that line of reasoning.