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Christian Responses to Religious Freedom
Christians have very strong opinions about religious freedom, with divergent views depending upon the denomination.
Why do some Christians support religious freedom?
- The Golden Rule: In Matthew 7:12 we read that Jesus taught his followers to 'treat others as you wish to be treated.' This is important as it shows that Christians should treat everyone well, regardless of their religious beliefs.
- Jesus' example: Jesus was kind to all he met and didn't judge them, regardless of race, cultural or religious background. As Christians try to emulate Jesus' actions, they believe that they should do exactly the same when meeting people who are different from them. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is an example of Jesus' teaching which demonstrates the need to care for everyone.
- Paul's teaching in Galatians further persuades Christians that religious freedom is to be supported 'So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women: you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.' Galatians 3:28
- Some churches teach that religious freedom is acceptable. For example, the Catholic Church states that religious freedom is the right of every person: 'The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person.' The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1738 and 1747.
Why do some Christians not support religious freedom?
- Some Christians believe that Christianity is the correct faith, so, whilst respecting people with different faiths, they would not support their choices. They hold this view because of teachings from the Bible. For example, in John Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me." This is very clearly showing that unless you follow Jesus you won't get to heaven, therefore they believe that followers of other religions are not on the right path.
- In Mark 16:15 we read that Jesus told his disciples to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” If the Christian gospel wasn't the truth, then why would Jesus have said that? Instead, he wants everybody in the world to hear the Good News, that through his death on the cross, all can restore their relationship with God by accepting him. This makes it clear that Christianity is the only correct faith, otherwise, he'd not have told the disciples to do this.
- These Christians feel that other religions might threaten Christianity. Whilst they respect all people, they struggle to accept pluralist laws and attitudes that accept all religions, and which place equal value on each.