China is not ranked on top of the 50 worst nations for persecuting Christians compiled by Open Doors USA, as that dubious distinction belongs to North Korea, followed close behind by Afghanistan.
But China is building a pervasive system of digital surveillance-based oppression that is presently aimed at the estimated 125 million Christians there, but which could easily be duplicated in other nations and used to silence anybody who disagrees with the regime in power.
Massive majorities of Americans across the political spectrum support maximum toleration and accommodation of religious practices in the public and private realms, according to a newly launched annual survey.
The accompanying chart dramatically demonstrates that support for religious freedom is overwhelmingly bipartisan, cutting across the ideological and party spectrums. The yellow areas indicate opposition, while the blue areas represent support for religious freedom.
Hong Kong’s population includes an estimated 7.5 million people, approximately two million of whom participated at the height of the protests that have grabbed world-wide attention.
At one point earlier this week, something quite amazing happened: The sea of protesters parted to allow an ambulance to get to somebody in distress. As the ambulance passed by, the protesters reformed their ranks.
In a 7-2 decision with Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion for the majority, the Supreme Court said Thursday that a Maryland memorial dedicated to the memories of 49 local residents who died in World War I does not violate the Constitution simply because a cross is its most prominent feature.
“For nearly a century, the Bladensburg Cross has expressed the community’s grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought,” said Alito, one of the High Court’s most conservative members.
“It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many, not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of ‘a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,’” Alito said.
The latter statement quoted from a concurring decision written by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.
Alito also wrote that “the Religion Clauses of the Constitution aim to foster a society in which people of all beliefs can live together harmoniously, and the presence of the Bladensburg Cross on the land where it has stood for so many years is fully consistent with that aim.”
In today’s hyper-charged environment, these type of statements are becoming more frequent. It’s understandable how one would react when hearing something like this. For me, a sense of indignation, fear, and anger are the emotions I typically feel.
Things get ugly when permission to speak depends upon whether the hearer agrees with what is said
A recent keynote speaker at the Harvard University Art & Science Faculty Conference on Diversity told his Twitter followers in 2015 that people who base their spiritual beliefs on the Hebrew scriptures should be “locked up.”
Author and speaker Tim Wise went on in that tweet, saying “people basing their beliefs on the fable of Noah and the Ark, or their interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah … rather than science or logic … If you are basing your morality on a fairy tale written thousands of years ago, you deserve to be locked up … detained for your utter inability to deal with reality … NO, we are not obligated to indulge your irrationality in the name of your religious freedom …”
Wise undoubtedly thinks everybody else — including those who accept the Hebrew scriptures and all other “fairy tales” — absolutely are obligated to respect his spiritual beliefs or lack thereof.
Proponents of atheism like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris have become prominent public figures, thanks to their intelligence and debating skills, science knowledge and formidable public presences.
They are helping prompt the renewal of a much-needed public debate in the U.S. and Europe on the Theory of Everything (TOE) questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, why does the universe exist, why are human beings in it, and what happens to us after we die?