Ethics Opinion

Asma Uddin: A new politicization in religious liberty

Asma Uddin. Photo by Emily Hardman

RNS asked some of the country’s top faith leaders, scholars and activists to consider what changes the religion landscape will see in 2018. Find all their predictions here.

(RNS) — Religious liberty at its core is about live and let live. Flourish in your own religious expression and protect others’ right to do so, too — regardless of whether you agree with or even understand their religious practices.

From my vantage point as a decade-long religious liberty activist, this idea of live and let live was easy enough for some time. Yet, that is quickly changing. Even in the course of my still-young career, my religious liberty casework has gone from covering largely uncontroversial topics such as land use and prisoners’ rights to cases at the core of culture wars.

This shift reflects the state of religious liberty today — something no longer uncontroversial and largely unchallenged, but suddenly highly politicized. And in 2018, I expect this trajectory toward increased politicization to continue.

There are two strands of this phenomenon. One the one hand, the politicization is based on deep disagreements on questions of sexual morality. As Professor Doug Laycock explains, “On abortion, contraception, gay rights, and same-sex marriage, conservative religious leaders condemn as grave evils what many other Americans view as fundamental human rights.”

On the other hand, the divergence on religious liberty centers on Muslims and Islam. Specifically, many outspoken advocates of religious liberty find it perfectly consistent to simultaneously deny such protection to Muslims. Their reasoning is that Islam is not a religion (it’s apparently something else — such as a “political ideology”) and therefore doesn’t even qualify for religious liberty protections. The argument is bogus and alarming, but its increasingly salience in public discourse suggests that it may gain ground in 2018.

(Asma T. Uddin is a fellow with the Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. She is also a fellow with Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and founded the online magazine The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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  • I predict that 2018 and forward will bring increasing understanding of the “TRUE NATURE” of religion which is for the soul (out of this world) against the ego (which is the spirit of this world) and keep them separate: A soul who lives in the upper worlds or in the Kingdom of heaven WITHIN, can choose the TRUTH for its own life without imposing it on others. (egos): The soul understands it needs God or the light within it to exist at all, while the ego does not know this and tries to FORCE other egos to submit to laws it doesn’t intend to keep itself. EGO always looks at OTHERS while the soul looks at God and its own relation to God and this is why religion either works (for the soul) or becomes a BIG PROBLEM for egos who want their way or no way: Islam says “no compulsion in religion”: Christianity and Judaism both say, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR as your self: Well unfortunately everyone does love their neighbor as themselves and in truth, everyone’s own ego hates its own soul because it is their ‘weakness’, their need, their desire for a HIGHER KIND OF LIFE than this world. The ego then tries to keep the soul as a hostage so it can IMPOSE its will on the soul that belongs to God and not to the ego: This is the meaning of Israel (soul) coming out of Egypt (ego): Egos always want to control while souls just want to be happy; Unfortunately most souls listen to their egos (warden of their soul) instead of that which will free it from their ego (the LIGHT OF GOD that must come through the heart to EMPOWER the soul to rise above the ego in us all):
    I had an experience of my soul being taken out of the ego (here is the Christian rapture they are waiting for but it is an INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE (I COR 15): I experienced this in 1992, and for 25 years have been working through this event to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth in me and explain it to others: My youtube page:

  • Of course Islam is a religion, the question is just what the 1st Amendment’s religious protections require. The Left has it exactly backwards: bound and determined to destroy the freedom of bakers, photographers, etc., to exercise their religion while simultaneously insisting that the 1st Amendment prevents the President and Congress from keeping out those whose religious beliefs call for the violent overthrow of our government and Constitution.