G’Town Prof: Obama Downgrading Religious Liberty
Thomas Farr, Professor of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University, delivered a dire warning to the U.S. bishops last month in an address, telling them that religious liberty for Christians is now a “global crisis.”
And things just got worse.
Farr writes at The Weekly Standard that the U.S. State Department recently announced that it was dropping coverage of religious freedom from its annual Human Rights Report. While this may seem inexplicable to many, Farr says it reveals the priorities of the Obama administration in that “this move may be part of a larger reprioritization in human rights policy in favor of the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.”
Note this quote from Hillary Clinton from a speech at Georgetown, according to Farr:
“To fulfill their potential, people . . . must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose.”
Note the narrowing of the freedom of religion to the freedom to worship as well as the larger commitment to same-sex ”marriage.” Farr warns that whatever one might think about that issue, “the failure to promote religious freedom abroad is likely to have significant humanitarian and strategic consequences for the United States.”
We are today in the midst of a global crisis in religious liberty. In two exhaustive studies, the Pew Research Center recently concluded that 70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is severely restricted, by either governments or private actors. And the problem is getting worse. The second report, in 2011, found that between mid-2006 and mid-2009 the situation deteriorated in twice as many countries as it improved.
Overall, many of the roughly 70 nations with the highest restrictions on religious freedom are non-Western, Muslim-majority nations. Of all the religious groups subject to persecution, Christians came out on top: They are harassed in 130 countries, Muslims are harassed in 117.
Farr points out that while many believe Christian persecution occurs mainly in Muslim countries, “what is new, and profoundly troubling, is that religious freedom is being rejected by democratic majorities as well as authoritarian regimes.”
In Canada for instance, Farr points out that since the adoption of gay marriage in 2005, it’s estimated that somewhere between 200 and 300 proceedings have been launched against defenders of marriage in courts, human rights commissions, and employment boards. The Catholic bishop of Calgary was threatened with litigation and charged with a “human rights violation” for circulating a letter within his diocese repeating Catholic teaching on marriage.
“In short, religion in much of the West is no longer seen as intrinsic to human dignity and social flourishing. It is generally understood as merely an opinion and, as a species, a dangerous opinion at that,” writes Farr. “While it is fine to practice your religion in churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, democracy requires that you leave it there. To bring it into politics endangers democracy.”
He writes that the Obama administration is setting the stage to “edge traditional religious ideas out of the public sphere, both domestically and in foreign policy.” Part and parcel of that is the way the Obama administration’s attempts to define religion as only what happens inside a house of worship.
But far from limiting religious freedom in this country, Farr argues that “America needs a resurgence of religious freedom, both here and abroad. The stakes are too high for this issue to be ignored any longer.”
You can read Farr’s entire piece at The Weekly Standard: www.weeklystandard.com/articles/religious-freedom-under-gun_648235.html?page=1