“Freedom” vs. “Liberty”: Why Religious Conservatives Have Begun to Favor One Over the Other

Oct 18, 2016

By Stephanie Russell-Kraft

In 2012, the GOP party platform mentioned “religious freedom” six times. Its section on the First Amendment was titled “The First Amendment: The Foresight of Our Founders to Protect Religious Freedom.”

In 2016, religious freedom was again used six times, only this time it was joined by four mentions of “religious liberty,” and the First Amendment section was renamed “The First Amendment: Religious Liberty.”

In the wake of last summer’s Obergefell decision, states and municipalities across the country have proposed and passed laws to protect certain religiously-based views on marriage, gender and abortion. Depending on your political orientation, they’re either a defense of religious freedom or a dog-whistle for anti-LGBT views.

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13 comments on ““Freedom” vs. “Liberty”: Why Religious Conservatives Have Begun to Favor One Over the Other

  • So where exactly does “emancipation” figure in this spectrum between “liberation” and “freedom”. It seems a person released from prison will feel all three at once, or am I too naive ?

    It is exactly the religious who need their minds to be “liberated” from the shackles of mist enveloped superstition, if this world is to progress to a higher level.

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  • Emancipation is the act or process of being set free from restrictions. It’s basically a synonym for liberation. A person released from prison probably would feel liberated/emancipated, but may not feel (fully) free due to the way society often treats ex-convicts.

    The religious in the US certainly have the freedom to change their own minds at any time. It’s ironic that (as the article states) many of the strongly religious complain about their liberty being curtailed when they are admonished to abide by the law of the land, while they willingly submit to the restrictions imposed on them by their faith and religiosity.

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  • American evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump even though he confessed to multiple counts of sexual assault and all manner of swindling. Why? Donald Trump promised to appoint a conservative to the supreme court. Evangelicals hope that will overturn Roe-v-Wade. Then it will be illegal to have an abortion no matter what stage the fetus, under any circumstances (e.g. rape, incest, expected death of the mother, child mother, non-viability of the fetus) and possibly even to ban birth control.

    They self-righteously think of this as preventing baby murder. Their religious beliefs befuddle them on the difference between a blastula, fetus and baby. They imagine a blastula has a soul, and a complex inner life comparable to a newborn. It does not.

    It is just a variant on a blood cell. It is a potential human, just as a sperm cell is a potential human, but it has a long way to go before it has any of the attributes of a newborn baby. In the first month, it is smaller than a poppy seed. At 8 weeks, it looks like a tadpole.

    Evangelicals are willing to bomb abortion clinics, killing doctors, women, children and fetuses all over a tadpole. What nitwits!

    Evangelicals are trying to push their religious superstitions on others. It is effectively trying to force others to bow to their god. They don’t believe in religious freedom.

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  • Op:…freedom is the capacity to do things in the world, while liberty is the absence of external institutional constraints.

    Roedy: They don’t believe in religious freedom.

    They believe in religious liberty… which to them means freedom from restrictions on practicing their religious obligation to impose their beliefs on others, as directed by the deity they worship.

    The question is whether or not the US Constitution protects this behavior.

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  • The two basic concepts behind religious freedom in an otherwise secular state are:

    Freedom of religion
    Freedom from religion

    The right of an individual to practice a given religion and live by its moral codes (where these are not shared by society in general) is conditional on the same right being extended equally to all, which in practice means non-interference in the personal lifestyle choices of others.

    The bedrock principle implicit in constitutional protection of religion is the non-imposition upon others of religious values that are not their own, the idea being that no one group shall possess a state monopoly over religion and that all religions are given equal opportunity to flourish within the private realm with neither hindrance nor help from the state (the state thus remaining officially a-religious).

    Fundamentalists seek to undermine state neutrality in religion and establish, de facto or de jure, a state religion and therefore pose a threat to all those who are not religious.

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  • “… with neither hindrance nor help from the state (the state thus remaining officially a-religious)”.

    Except, when it comes to not taxing religious entities. This, in my opinion, is something that the gov’t should have no hand in. If people want to believe in faeries & unicorns, fine– but don’t expect my tax dollars to “help it flourish”.

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  • “… freedom is the capacity to do things in the world, while liberty
    is the absence of external institutional constraints.”

    What a chilling and insidious thought. Yet another reason to make sure a reasoning mind gets elected: nominees for our Supreme Court.

    It is like distinguishing the difference between “rights” and “privileges.”

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  • I see freedom as illusory…

    By illusory, I assume you mean “not real”, or imagined. In order to understand how freedom can be “not real”, we would need to know how you define freedom, as it seems you are not using the definition offered in the article (the capacity to do things in the world).

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  • @OP – In 2016, religious freedom was again used six times, only this time it was joined by four mentions of “religious liberty,”

    Since when did becoming mind-slave puppets of the likes of the Vatican, constitute “freedom” or “liberty”?

    Here’s a new edict which should cause friction between Catholic and non-Catholic family members!


    The ashes of cremated Catholics cannot be kept at home, scattered or divided among family members, the Vatican has announced in new guidelines.
    The two-page instruction by the Vatican’s department on doctrine said ashes of the dead must be kept in “sacred places” such as cemeteries.

    It also stressed that the Roman Catholic Church still preferred burials over cremations.

    The Vatican allowed cremation in 1963 but has always frowned on the practice.

    It also stressed at the time that cremation must not suggest a denial of faith about resurrection.

    Countering ‘new ideas

    “It is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects,” said the instruction by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    “These courses of action cannot be legitimised by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.”

    The Vatican said it was issuing the new guidelines to counter “new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith” that had become widespread since 1963.

    It said the Church could not “condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the ‘prison’ of the body”.

    The guidelines reiterated that Catholics who chose to be cremated “for reasons contrary to the Christian faith” must be denied a Christian funeral.

    The Vatican also stressed that “the Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased”.

    Pope Francis had already approved the guidelines, the Vatican said.

    They can’t even leave the dead free from their interfering meddling!

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  • @Peacepecan…
    I don’t accept the notion of free will; therefore, people act within a very tight framework of possible responses. When talking freedom it’s based on the presupposition that people are acting of their own volition, (capacity). Consciousness does an excellent job at making people feel like they are individuals acting out their will.

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  • Clearly government money should not be subsidising the spread of bigotry, anti-science drivel, or delusional ignorance!


    A New Zealand preacher is facing a backlash after saying that earthquakes could be caused by homosexuality.

    A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck South Island last week, killing two people.

    Brian Tamaki, leader of the Destiny Church, posted a sermon on Facebook claiming such disasters were caused by sin, and referencing gay marriage.

    An online petition calling for the church to be classed as a hate group and lose its tax-free status has been signed by 100,000 people.

    The sermon was given at Mr Tamaki’s church in Auckland on Sunday, before the quake. But it was later posted on Facebook and labelled as a “prediction” by the preacher.

    “(The book of) Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin. That’s natural disasters,” he said in the video.

    He also spoke about the city of Christchurch, which suffered a devastating 2011 earthquake which killed 185 people, calling it “everything but Christ’s Church.”

    “It had the highest murder rates, it was haven for those who were absolutely anti-Christ in every way. It was the representative from that city that first put in motion gay marriage in this country,” he said.

    The online petition to revoke the church’s tax-free status will be delivered to Prime Minister John Key, who has already called the preacher’s claim “ridiculous”.

    Mr Tamaki, however, has defended his comments.

    In a radio interview, he said his comments had been an unplanned, spontaneous message in the middle of a sermon. “I had no idea what was going to happen a few hours later,” he said.

    However, he said he held “another perspective” and wanted people to understand where he was coming from.

    The response was “over-sensationalised”, Mr Tamaki said. He added that he was not specifically targeting gay people, but all types of “sexual sins”.

    “Follow MEEEEE and support MYYYY church!! – SEEEE what MYYYY god can DOOOoo! –
    . . . . . .Now about the appointment for that visit to the mental hospital???

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  • 13
    Cairsley says:

    Sigh! Brian Tamaki again! It has been a few years since he last came to public notice.

    But at least this time there is a petition to sign; and I have signed it!

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