Freedom From Religion Response – Four Points
As a pastor of a church I find Professor Guiora’s words both challenging and problematic. Here are four points:
1. Professor Guiora writes, “Society has historically – unjustifiably and blindly – granted religion immunity.” What society? Separating “society” from “religion” is very much a modern issue. Society didn’t grant immunity to anything. Rather, society was shaped by religion and was pretty much identified religiously in the West and in the East until the beginnings of the critical/historical/scientific “Age of Reason” stirrings. In the West it was the Church that granted immunity not the other way around.
2. I don’t know if it is all that helpful to differentiate religious extremism which leads to terror from “secular terrorism.” Terrorism is terrorism. Even secular terrorism is action taken by an individual who – or group that – presumes his/her/their world view is superior to another’s perspective – religious or otherwise. The results of god-less terror is not better or worse that the results of god-full terror.
3. In the 4th paragraph where Prof. Guiora describes the Huratree Christian militia – they were caught before they committed any terrorist act. Doesn’t this show that the system works without changing constitutional law? Their “sacred” right of assembly and speech had to have been compromised to some degree so that the agents could make their arrests, no?
4. It is exactly the “grey” area between action and “over-reach” that suggests we will never get this right. From Nazi Germany to the FBI during the Civil Rights movement, government agents have tried to infiltrate faith communities deemed dangerous to the group in power with horrendous results. It seems to me that religous speech should be treated the same way we treat any other speech: you can’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater. We have hate speech laws as well as libel laws. Our “sacred” free speech and assembly have always had limits. This is the best we can do, I believe, without compromising our identity and soul.