Postscript: “Soul freedom” for all in the public square — how we live with our deep differences
Shortly after I published the last post, with a parable about fear in the public square, I listened to the podcast from “Breakpoint This Week,” a part of Chuck Colson’s ministry. John Stonestreet interviewed Os Guinness, an observer, writer, and speaker on culture and Christianity. I was astounded, not only that his comments run parallel to my own thinking, but that I “just happened” to listen to it a day or two later.
Os Guinness speaks about “Soul Freedom,” i.e., freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief (or “none”) in the public square. I am reading the book this interview was based on: The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and Making a World Safe for Diversity. That title says a lot.
There is a much bigger issue at stake here: America is a pluralistic society, and if there is to be freedom for any, there must be freedom for all: Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, None, whether we agree on religion or moral values or not.
“One of the issues underlying all [other issues],” Guinness says, “whether it’s environmental, technological, or whatever, is ‘how on earth do we live with our deep differences?’. And the only answer to that is to really recapture the importance of religious freedom for everybody—for people of all faiths, and those who consider themselves as having no faith. That’s why I think this is a crucial generation….”
Guinness goes on: “At the heart of human rights,” he explains, “is a concept of reciprocity. In other words, a right for one is a right for the other is a right for both. We’ve got to practice that here. We can’t restrict [Muslims] from the rights we demand for ourselves. And that’s the genius of Roger Williams. He was the first person to say you could build a society (which later became, of course, Rhode Island), by giving freedom of conscience to everybody without exception….”
Such comments, coming from a Christian, may surprise you, since you may believe that, whenever Christians talk about religious freedom, they just want it for themselves and, “screw everyone else!”
That is not what Jesus taught. That is not what our Constitution is about, either.
Here is a link to the conversation with Os Guinness. (You’ll need to copy and paste on your browser): http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/discourse/entry/15/25825
Part 2 of “At risk of repeating history” will be up shortly.