Tag Archives: religious freedom

What Next in Clergy/State Relations?

At least here in Wisconsin, ALL clergy are now eligible for the Covid vaccine because we are “part of health care personnel who provide spiritual care to the sick” (see link below). In an immediate sense, this is important not only to clergy personally but also our families and congregations.

It is also an acknowledgement by the state of Wisconsin of the work clergy do in caring for others. Understandably, many clergy were upset when we were told we couldn’t attend to our hospitalized parishioners. This was, for me at least, not an issue since (thank God), none of may parishioners were hospitalized.

At the same time, the inclusion of clergy now suggests that these earlier regulations, however heavy handed and tone deaf these earlier orders were, were not necessarily the result of a bias against religious believers.
 Assuming good will of those who disagree with us is essential not only for those of us who represent Christ as priests, ministers, pastors and preachers, but as citizens committed to the common good and the ability of all Americans to live together peacefully.
For me at least the real question is this. How can clergy and elected officials work together to avoid a repeat of our earlier mutual misunderstanding?
In Christ,
+Fr Gregory

WI DHS press release: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/2c7691b

Religious Persecution in Russia

9News in Australia reports that

A Russian court has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to six years in jail in one of the most severe crackdown on religious freedom in the country in recent years.

The court found Danish man Dennis Christensen guilty of extremism, making him the first Jehovah’s Witness in Russia to be sent to prison.

Mr Christensen was detained during a police raid on a local prayer meeting he was leading in May 2017.

Many Christians (Orthodox and others) would say the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult. Whether or not the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult or not I can’t say. What I can say is that the Orthodox Church affirms freedom of conscience and condemns attempts by the secular authorities to deny such freedoms.

For example, in their 2000 document The Basis of the Social Concept, the Moscow Patriarchate wrote the following (emphasis in orginal):

IV. 6. The idea of the inalienable rights of the individual has become one of the dominating principles in the contemporary sense of justice. The idea of these rights is based on the biblical teaching on man as the image and likeness of God, as an ontologically free creature. «Examine what is around you», writes St. Anthony of Egypt, «and see that princes and masters have power over your body alone, not over your soul, and always keep this in mind. Why when they order, say, to kill or to do something else, inappropriate, unrighteous and harmful for the soul, it is not proper to obey them, even though they torture your body. God has created the soul free and self-ruled, and it is free to do as it wills, good or bad».

The Christian socio-public ethics demanded that a certain autonomous sphere should be reserved for man, in which his conscience might remain the «autocratic» master, for it is the free will that determines ultimately the salvation or death, the way to Christ or the way away from Christ. The right to believe, to live, to have family is what protects the inherent
foundations of human freedom from the arbitrary rule of outer forces. These internal rights are complimented with and ensured by other, external ones, such as the right to free movement, information, property, to its possession and disposition.

God keeps man free, never forcing his will. Contrary to it, Satan seeks to possess the human will, to enslave it. If the law conforms to the divine truth revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ, then it also stands guard over human freedom: «Where the Spirit is, there is liberty» (2 Cor. 3:17). Therefore, it guards the inalienable rights of the personality. Those traditions, however, which do not know of the principle of the freedom of Christ, often seek to subject the human consciousness to the external will of a ruler or a collective.

Bad as the verdict is, and it is grossly unjust, the situation will be made worse if the verdict is not challenged and so allowed to stand.

This is also a moment for the Orthodox Church of Russia to reaffirm the Church’s commitment to religious freedom for all. The can only do this by condemning the decision and supporting the legal process to overturn the decision. They must also add their voice to the voices of those who work to change the laws that have allowed for this abuse of human rights.

To borrow from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” (Letter from the Birmingham Jail).

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

For Consideration

(Acton Power Blog) Key quotes from the work of the Austrian/British economist Friedrich Hayek:

 

On Faith in Freedom: Freedom necessarily means that many things will be done which we do not like. Our faith in freedom does not rest on the foreseeable results in particular circumstances but on the belief that it will, on balance, release more forces for the good than for the bad. (The Case for Freedom)

On Equality: From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time. The equality before th

English: GFDL picture of F.A. Hayek to replace...

F.A. Hayek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

e law which freedom requires leads to material inequality. (The Constitution of Liberty)

On Democracy: A limited democracy might indeed be the best protector of individual liberty and be better than any other form of limited government, but an unlimited democracy is probably worse than any other form of unlimited government, because its government loses the power even to do what it thinks right if any group on which its majority depends thinks otherwise. If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not: free choice can at least exist under a dictatorship that can limit itself but not under the government of an unlimited democracy which cannot. (Letter to The Times (July 11, 1978))

On Wealth and Power: [W]ho will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth? (The Road to Serfdom)

On Private Property: What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. (The Road to Serfdom)

On Ignorance: All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. (The Constitution of Liberty