June 10, 2010

Freedom from religion

In America, we claim to have "freedom of religion." This term was inserted into the bill of rights so that the government could not force us to go to a specific religious ceremony, granting man the "freedom" to choose his own "religion." The term, however, is detrimental. Freedom of religion implies freedom from religion, or, in other words, the ability ot choose not to go to church at all, if we do not want to. If we are truly free to choose whatever religion we think right, then why do we so seldom wish to go to church whatsoever? We should be free to want to attend any parish we should choose. And yet, we find ourselves more and more desiring to attend any sort of religious ceremony less and less. This is the result of an abusive definition of the word freedom.

Freedom cannot mean "doing whatever I want whenever I want." This concept of free will denies any sort of purpose to our existence, and, furthermore, fails to reflect reality. If the ability to choose as we see fit based on our passions is free will, then why do we form habits, especially harmful habits? For example - I can begin an activity such as pornography, tobacco, alcohol, or any other addictive substance freely. And yet, as this activity continues, my desire for it increases, and the strength of my will to oppose it decreases. Therefore, this "free choice of will" necessarily leads to the inability to make such a "free choice of will." Our free choices become less and less free, and any attempts to justify our actions become merely psuedo-rational statements slavishly serving the passions in their lust.

This haunting realization about freedom applies similarly to religion. If "freedom of religion" means that I can choose whatever religion I want, without any recourse to something objective outside of myself, then my religion will be based upon my internal passions. If religion means that I pick a religion to suit myself, then, ever increasingly, religion will be the outward expression of my incontrolable desires, and my religious nature will be degraded into an apathetic sludge of emotion. I will want God when I feel like I need God, causing true contact with the divine, for which human beings exist in the first place, to be impossible. I become incapable of any transcendence, locking myself securely into a world doomed for destruction, gradually losing all hope or sense of purpose. I lose my soul.

Does this sound alarmist? Extremist? A biased attack upon your freedoms from a religious bigot? If you have an intrinsic right to religious freedom, then I am not capable of harming your inalienable ability to disbelieve. But can you believe at all? If you truly are free to believe whatever you want - prove it. Believe in God. You will find that no amount of intellectual effort, no manufactured temperament of soul, and no extremes of grovelling before an altar only to prove your point will produce true faith. Unless something moves you from outside, you are completely unable to help yourself. May God bring us all to faith and salvation.


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