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Author Topic: Interesting Article on "Freedom of Religion"  (Read 2980 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jennifer
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« on: February 27, 2004, 01:42:36 PM »

(warning it's from The Seattle Catholic - trad RC)  It gives some insight into the meaning of "freedom of religion."  I contend that the conservative protestant argument that our founding fathers were all good Christians is absurd.  

http://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20040202.html
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2004, 01:48:45 PM »

I would submit that our founding Fathers were mostly deists but that Christianity was the religion they had in mind when they founded America, that Christian values were normative, and that separation between Church and State meant just what it said--not separation of mosque and state or synagogue and state.  I for one am happy that other religions can come here and I find talking to people from different backgrounds to be fascinating, but I don't think we can or should try and make this country a totally secular state in an attempt to placate all groups.

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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2004, 02:26:26 PM »

I agree that Christianity (as they understood it) was the "religion they had in mind."  However, I think that we (catholics) have to understand that their Christianity is not our Christianity.  Their Christianity was protestantism and so they believed in a kind of individualistic faith.  However, our Christianity is not so individualistic.  

Take for example what Madison wrote about religious liberty.  He argued that it wasn't good for religion if the state "forced" someone to believe something.  His argument is based on an assumption that religious faith must be completely "free" and "individual."  In contrast, we would believe that a year old baby (who has been baptized) is a Christian even though he/she is incapable of 'rational' thought.  St. Augustine argued that the state should use its power to enforce "orthodoxy."  Also, I think most of us here support Russia's attempt to crack down on fundamentalist sects.  

No one is arguing that the US should be different, however, I think that we catholics need to always remember that our traditions, theology, faith, etc. are fundamentally at odds with the greater culture.  One could argue that is solely because of "secularization."  However, I would argue that the difference always existed.  

I think why this is important is that catholicism (RC or EO) has been so marginalized in society that "conservative" catholics are sucked into the religious right thinking that we're all the same.  Certainly we agree on many things, however we are fundamentally different which we should never forget.  I think it's important because there has been such a large influx of protestant converts into catholicism (EO or RC).  Cradle folks are so ignorant about their faith (speaking generally) and often have a kind of 'inferiority complex' about the greater culture so we are less vocal than the converts.  The converts bring all of their protestant baggage with them.  Take for example, how some of the RC converts fall into the biblical prooftexting trap.  
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Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2004, 03:19:20 PM »

I think for the most part what you have written is sound.  I know for instance a friend of mine whom you also might know from online, Dan Barton, went completely down the road of supporting the Protestant religious right.  I am conservative for the most part and as you know I like Bush but some of the Ashcroft style games I don't particularly like, especially when it comes to freedom.  I take the issues as they come--I am for the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but the prayer in school thing never really impacted me because it was such a vauge concept for me--I pray all day long (figuratively speaking), so why do I need someone to lead me in a generic prayer?

I do perceive that you are slightly more anti-Protestant in general than I, however.  I used to feel the same way but then I took a look at my Protestant family and they are all decent people so I really can't complain.  Also, I learned the basics of Christianity in my Lutheran Church so I can't fault them.  Do you have anti-Protestant misgivings becuase of religious grounds, political grounds, or both?  I am just curious, I am not trying to take this conversation in any particular direction.

anastasios

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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2004, 03:34:17 PM »

I am "anti-Protestant" because I grew up in a state dominated by Southern Baptists.  I used to live in a town where all Catholics were forced to leave during the 1930's.  My parents tell me that there was deluge of anti-catholic letters to the editor in the paper regarding the sex abuse scandals.  A Southern Baptist co-worker told me outright that the Catholic Church had "always had a problem with that."  Another Southern Baptist friend told me that we used to use latin in our masses so our church could "fool" us.  These people weren't radicals or "bigots" but they are representative of the fundamentalist protestants I've known in my life.  

I come from a Protestant family.  My parents converted to Catholicism and it was big secret in our family.  To this day (more than 30 years since my parents converted) there are still relatives who don't know we're Catholic.  I vividly remember watching the pope on TV around 1978 or so listening to my great uncles go on and on about him ("who does he is" and all that).  

I don't deny that they're Christian but I can "fault" them (especially Fundamentalists) because I sense that they do not understand (or even want to understand) my faith.  I think they're willing to tolerate it as long as it doesn't intrude too much on their lives.  I think they think that we're a convenient ally in their culture wars.  But in my experience fundamentalists have a deep seated dislike of catholics.  For example, a Baptist friend of mine gave me a book about demon possession.  It was published by the Jack Chick people and said that in order to fight against "demonic possession" people needed to get rid of anything associated with Roman Catholicism.  They are innundated with these kinds of messages.  How can it not affect them?  

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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2004, 06:44:41 PM »


. . .

I don't deny that they're Christian but I can "fault" them (especially Fundamentalists) because I sense that they do not understand (or even want to understand) my faith.  I think they're willing to tolerate it as long as it doesn't intrude too much on their lives.  I think they think that we're a convenient ally in their culture wars.  But in my experience fundamentalists have a deep seated dislike of catholics.  For example, a Baptist friend of mine gave me a book about demon possession.  It was published by the Jack Chick people and said that in order to fight against "demonic possession" people needed to get rid of anything associated with Roman Catholicism.  They are innundated with these kinds of messages.  How can it not affect them?  


Responsio:

Many of your comments are correct on the surface, but I feel I have to balance them somewhat.  I have been treated as a RC both well and not so well by some So. Baptists.  My experiences with them, other Baptists, and other Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are in no way representative of a valid statistical sample.  Nevertheless, I doubt that most So. Baptists with even a modicum of intelligence and intellectual honesty would support Jack Chick.  Of course you will always find some who will fall for the Jack Chick garbage.

Second, my mother is a long term survivor of breast cancer.  Her doctor discovered it in 1980, she had a modified radical mastectomy of one breast, and underwent chemotherapy.  Her oncologist took her off chemo shortly thereafter because she reacted so poorly to it.  The chemo was administered to her due to statistical reasons according to what my mother told me.  It was not worth the risk to keep her on it.

Every three months my mother and father would travel from Alabama (where they are retired) to Roswell Memorial in Buffalo, NY for her scans.  She had one confirmed metastasis (bone deterioration in her sternum) that they "nuked."  The doctors called it an "cancerous embryonic antigen."  The radiotherapy worked.  She later had a spot on her spine so they "nuked" it but it was unlikely to be cancer as the spot was still there after radiation treatments.  It was probably rheumatism or arthritis.  Of course the spot could never be biopsied because it was in her spine.

My mother volunteered for the local public library which was not supported with taxpayer funds.  Donations and grants kept the library going.  The woman with whom my mother worked was a So. Baptist.  Every time my mother and father would travel to Buffalo, this woman, during Sunday worship, would get her ENTIRE CONGREGATION to pray for my mother by name!  Eventually the quarterly trips became semiannual . . . then annual . . . then not necessary.  My mother is now seen by a local oncologist in Pensacola, FL who has also agreed to serve as her primary care physician.  She is clear of cancer so far!  During her last trip to Roswell Memorial in Buffalo, her physician told her that he didn't think that she would survive this long.

I believe in the power of prayer.  My mother is alive today by God's Will that must surely have operated through skilled physicians, my mother's zest for life, and the prayers of some good Christians.  As a Christian I KNOW that God's Will will be done.  His Will is irresistible, though not in the Calvinist sense.  Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar did God's Will even when they intended to do otherwise.  I will be forever greatful to that congregation of So. Baptists for praying for my mother.  So I tend to give the Baptists a "pass" when it comes to subjects about Protestants vs. Catholics.

BTW, my mother's friend has since reposed in the Lord.  May God grant her eternal life in the Beatific Vision.

Yes, I know there are a lot of Protestants that are a pain in ######.  So are a lot of Orthodox!  And even more Catholics are that way too!  We have done much for which to beg the Lord's forgiveness, and not just during the Great Lent either!

May you have a blessed Lent and please remember my mother and her deceased friend in your prayers.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Jim C.
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Keble
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2004, 06:57:48 PM »

Well, remember that religious freedom in the colonies specifically meant (among other things) freedom to be a Catholic.

It is possible to lay too much emphasis on Madison and Jefferson. Rights to religious freedom were not a novelty which they added; Maryland was first (later abrogated in favor of the Church of England) and Rhode Island also had it. It's also important to remember that those deists were a historical anomaly which was quickly wiped out by a wave of religious revival.

This is also stumbling up against the point I make in saying that we are all Protestants-- especially in this forum. I disagree that the constitution cares at all about where beliefs come from. And I suspect that the founders didn't care either. Remember that the model of "Church" against which the standard of "establishment" was measured was the Church of England. By that point it had degenerated almost to being the pinch of incense on the state altar (a condition which changed abruptly some fifty years later). Religious freedom was as much about organizational freedom as anything.

That's part of the problem that the Mormons got into. The Mormons have always wanted to be a state church, and a lot of political friction about Utah continues to center on their attempt to set up a church-state based out of Salt Lake City.
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2004, 06:58:31 PM »

Jennifer

[I don't deny that they're Christian but I can "fault" them (especially Fundamentalists) because I sense that they do not understand (or even want to understand) my faith.  I think they're willing to tolerate it as long as it doesn't intrude too much on their lives.]

I think the same can be said of some RCs.  There are some RCs who are so ill informed about their own faith that when someone actually presents genuine doctrine they become (in a sense) anti-Catholic.  I have friends who are RC but of the "cafeteria" variety and tolerate my views as long as they don't intrude into their lives.  On the flip side I have RC friends who are very much into the Latin mass and who denigrate the NO and the hierarchy who tolerate my views as long as there is no intrusion.

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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2004, 07:00:44 PM »

Keble

[Well, remember that religious freedom in the colonies specifically meant (among other things) freedom to be a Catholic.]

I think this varied from colony to colony.  In some colonies being Quaker was against the law.

CR
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Jennifer
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2004, 07:12:37 PM »

This is also stumbling up against the point I make in saying that we are all Protestants-- especially in this forum.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean.  I think there is something inherently "Protestant" about choosing a religion which most of the posters here have done.  I doubt that any of us could really understand what it's like to live in a "catholic" culture.  We might like to play Russian or Tridentine RC but if we're American we've been so influenced by our culture that it's playing instead of living.  I also think there's something 'Protestant' about choosing to reject one's native culture (western Christianity) for a supposedly 'better' culture.  The search for purity and the "real" thing is Protestant and certainly western.  There's also something 'protestant' about rejecting the faith of our parents.  The very act of rejecting and choosing another faith sets us off from 'traditional' catholicism.  Even those of us who are not converts still make a conscious choice to reject the greater culture.  
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2004, 09:23:47 AM »

Quote
I think it's important because there has been such a large influx of protestant converts into catholicism (EO or RC).  Cradle folks are so ignorant about their faith (speaking generally) and often have a kind of 'inferiority complex' about the greater culture so we are less vocal than the converts.  The converts bring all of their protestant baggage with them.  Take for example, how some of the RC converts fall into the biblical prooftexting trap.

I disagree very strongly with the quote above.

Most converts whom I know bend over backwards to avoid even the slightest hint of leftover Protestantism, which is actually a shame, because there are positive aspects of Protestantism that we would do well to emulate.

"Biblical prooftexting" - which is really just the effort to provide a biblical foundation for one's arguments - is found extensively in the writings of the Church Fathers.

It is beyond me how anyone who has read the Gospels can be anti-convert.

How many "cradle Christians" can one find in the New Testament?
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2004, 11:08:43 AM »

. . . We might like to play Russian or Tridentine RC but if we're American we've been so influenced by our culture that it's playing instead of living.  I also think there's something 'Protestant' about choosing to reject one's native culture

I belong to an Orthodox (OCA; thus, with some roots in the Russian Orthodox Church) parish full of converts, and none of them, to my knowledge, is involved in "playing Russian," or thinks of himself as any the less American for his conversion.  Certainly, none thinks he has "rejected" his native culture.  But then, we don't confuse Orthodox faith with culture, though we know faith can and should become incarnated in cultural form over time.

Speak for yourself, please.
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2004, 04:08:47 PM »

Conversion is an element of almost every religion, specifically Christian ones.  Missionaries of every type of Christianity try to make converts all over the world.  Some one joining, say, the Japanese Orthodox Church is making a religious and cultural leap much greater than that of most converts here.  To get into specifically Catholic tradition, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that it was a greater sin to remain in the Church but to disbelieve in it than it was to leave the Church because of disbelief.  Christianity is, at it's roots, a convert religion.  The apostles were all converts from Judaism, many of the first Christians were former pagans.  As Jesus said, "He who does not hate his father and mother...."
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2004, 08:16:28 PM »

The OCA only has "some" roots in the Russian Orthodox Church?!? Oh, how I love neo-OCA revisionist history.
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2004, 08:51:21 PM »

The OCA only has "some" roots in the Russian Orthodox Church?!? Oh, how I love neo-OCA revisionist history.

Natasha, you reading into something that isn't there.  I think ambrosemzv was only trying to imply the OCA's history to those who may not know that it came from the Russian Church.
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