Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday Comment: No Compulsion

I think we can all agree that this Indiana trial judge erred in the most fundamental sense of the term when he ordered two parents to "shield" their ten-year-old son from their "non-mainstream faith."

The belief that there must be no compulsion in matters of religion is one of those happy moments when our theological and libertarian convictions agree:

"God calls men to serve Him in spirit and in truth, hence they are bound in conscience but they stand under no compulsion. God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom He Himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom." Declaration on Religious Freedom, Pope Paul VI (1965).

"Let there be no compulsion in religion." Qur'an, Al-Baqarah 2:256

"If a man desires to become a proselyte . . . he is to be addressed as follows: 'What reason have you for desiring to become a proselyte . . .' and he is made acquainted with some of the minor, and with some of the major commandments. What is the reason? In order that if he desired to withdraw let him do so." Talmud, Yevamot 48b.

"The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government . . . can force [or] influence a person to go or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion." United States Supreme Court, Everson v. Board of Education (1947).

"[T]he interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." United States Supreme Court, Troxey v. Granville (2000).

Someone who shows such absolute disrespect for fundamental liberties should be impeached, not just reversed.


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