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Freedom of assembly, association, expression, etc.?

Discussion in 'Political Debate & Discussion' started by Wesley Briggman, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Wesley Briggman

    Wesley Briggman Active Member
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  2. FollowTheWay

    FollowTheWay Well-Known Member
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    Absolutely that statement was untrue but you have to complete it. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal...
    That should have read "all white men (excluding indigenous peoples, poor men and women) from Europe.
     
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  3. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Boy they really did a good job indoctrinating you didn't they.
     
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  4. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    It is.

    I had to confront two extremist posts in social media yesterday, one by an old friend of mine from childhood who is part of the alt-right movement who literally and publicly advocated violence against other persons for expressing political differences, and a thread here on Baptist Board that advocated extreme punishment for certain political leaders before any indictment, due process, or trial.

    We also have a President who just claimed that those who did not applaud the way he would have liked, to be "unAmerican" and "treasonous" (a sentiment he claims he heard from someone else, but agrees with).

    These acts, including the teacher in the OP who assaulted the student for not standing for the Pledge (something that the Supreme Court specifically found is protected under the First Amendment in 1943 in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette), is simply another example of people who do not understand the fundamental character of the nation, nor our calling in Christ to love our neighbors and even our enemies.

    Obviously, it is. If you couldn't say (or not say) anything that was unpopular, you would not - by definition - have freedom of speech.

    Could be, but they are not.

    Specifically, it is written in the Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

    Thomas Jefferson put into words what the founding fathers believed about the Divine root of human dignity -- that the Creator has put us into this world in such a way as to be able to think and choose to act according to the higher parts of our nature, not just instincts and brute force like the animals. God created everyone with the capability to be a responsible moral agent, not simply a servant of those who happen to have the most power. They knew that compelling people to say certain things doesn't change their minds, nor forcing people to pray make them pious. They knew from Reformation Christian teaching, "Enlightenment" thinkers, and their own experience that the right and responsibility to work for the common good and personal success, according to the dictates of one's conscience is the recipe for human flourishing.

    Now the sin nature does get involved in the process, just as it does it all human enterprise. Certainly attacking others or demanding death for those with whom we disagree is the grossest form of sin. But sin also invades the actions of persons who "pursue happiness" to their own destruction, or take a role in government to serve themselves or their friends, and not the common good. But I am convinced that it is the best human system yet devised to allow for people to serve God and serve each other in a world entangled in sin.
     
  5. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Please define the alt-right
     
  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    He self-identifies as "alt-right", so I didn't try to put him into another category.

    He claims to be a Christian - but not "a wimpy love your enemy liberal" - and was part of the same group of friends who admired the Klan when we were kids.

    FWIW, there was an active KKK presence where I grew up in Southeast Texas. One of my early childhood memories was from the late 1960s where I witnessed a Klan rally and cross burning about a quarter mile from my home. My father took my brother and I down to witness it from the other side of the highway. We ended up talking to two FBI agents who were monitoring the group.
     
  7. Wesley Briggman

    Wesley Briggman Active Member
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    Freedom of religion. Is it endorsed by the God of the Bible?
     
  8. FollowTheWay

    FollowTheWay Well-Known Member
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    Yes. In Sunday School. Christianity is not about supporting the Republican Party despite what people like Franklin Graham and 80% of white evangelicals say.
     
  9. FollowTheWay

    FollowTheWay Well-Known Member
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    You're mixing up America and your faith again. Freedom of Religion is an American freedom. It wasn't found in the Bible. Christians we put to death by the Romans because of their faith.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    Yes, obviously.

    In this human life, are you forced by God to believe against your will? Are you compelled to do the right thing? If not, then God allows humankind a level of liberty (aka freedom) to be obedient or not, even if you are convinced that God does not allow any of His chosen ones to ultimately resist or reject Him.

    Once you recognize that God has given that right/responsibility to you, do you think God has given that to others? If so, by what authority would you try to take away the other person's rights? Moreover, can you REALLY take away someone's ability to not sincerely believe? You can torture someone within an inch of his or her life, and you MIGHT get that person to say what you want so that the pain will stop, but have you really made them believe? Obviously, no.

    Since compulsion does not change minds or hearts, why in the world would God want us using that on each other in order to advance the Kingdom of God described by Jesus?

    Even the most casual reading of the Bible shows the long history of religious hypocrisy, where people honor God with their lips and sacrifices, but their hearts are far from God. Jesus constantly confronted religious deadness and hypocrisy in His three-year ministry. The early church did the same. Why would we desire to make persons hypocrites and inoculate them against the gospel by trying to make them act like Christians when they are actually not.?

    If you are a Baptist (you ARE posting in the Baptist section), I suggest your investigate your own Baptist history. The Baptist heritage that we have inherited was the primary driving force behind the First Amendment of the United States with its provisions for free exercise and prohibitions against the establishment of religion as a tool of civil government.
     
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  11. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    Hmmm. Seems you disagree with the founders. I agree with them, the "white" part should have been left out.
     
  12. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    I'd add...where exactly is life a right owed men? What about liberty? Does Scripture teach that we have a right to personal liberty? Where is it said that we have a right to pursue our own happiness?
     
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  13. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Apparently for you its about supporting the godless child slaughtering party.
     
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  14. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Yea? There was where I grew up as well. So?
     
  15. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    You are introducing a straw man into the discussion. I don't think anyone here is claiming that God "owes" anyone, anything. The "rights" being discussed are simply the responsibilities and nature we are each endowed with by our Creator.

    God has created us to be moral agents. That is disrupted when we are deprived of life.

    God has created us as persons, who are moral agents. That is disrupted when we are deprived of liberty.

    For the record, the line in the Declaration is, "...the pursuit of happiness," not "pursue our own happiness." More than the others, this is an "Enlightenment" principle about the human ability to pursue one's personal potential and the common good of society. It is not anti-biblical except when it is twisted into pursuing one's own happiness for selfish ends.
     
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  16. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    It is not about pursuing a political party's aims at all. Of course, you probably know that, but it would have prevented you from taking a swipe at your brother or sister in Christ.
     
  17. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    You demanded I define "alt-right" (which is at best a vague term), because I referenced a person with whom I grew up as being part of the "alt-right." I simply pointed out that that is what he claims of himself - I did not pin the label on him. I also gave some background as to what it might mean to him, because of his affinity toward the Klan and his hatred of immigrants - which is really weird because his mother was born in Spain. He's not the sharpest guy.

    I am not going to get into the "define the alt right" foolishness with you because it is irrelevant to this conversation. I don't have to know what my friend means by alt-right to declare his threats to physically attack persons who believe differently than he does.

    So what city in Southeast Texas did you grow up in? I grew up in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area.
     
  18. JonC

    JonC Lifelong Disciple
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    You have misunderstood my post. I was not arguing against God owing anyone anything, but rather that we were entitled the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I was thinking of the citizen and the government and these rights that are supposedly endowed by God.

    Looking at it in the direction you've provided, I guess my question would be where the idea that our Creator has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among which are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am not saying that this is anti-biblical, although I do not see it as being biblical either. I appreciate the rights we have in this country. I just do not see that they are endowed by God as unalienable rights.

    Yes, God created us to be moral agents. But God Himself disrupts this activity as He deprives men of life (we die). Furthermore, Christ, the Apostles, and the early church did not take upon themselves the fight against secular government for depriving men of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not see merit in defending the right to life based on our being moral agents. I do, however, see some merit in men being created in the image of God.


     
  19. Wesley Briggman

    Wesley Briggman Active Member
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    Please provide scriptural support for your position the God endorses freedom of religion. Also, if it is convenient, some documentation from a Baptist publication to help me understand what, as a Baptist, I should know/believe. Thanks for your help.
     
  20. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    I'm sorry about that. I was trying to understand, but I think we are coming from such different places we are miscommunicating. I believe you mean different things by your word choices that I am understanding.

    But the words "owed" and "entitled" are not that far apart. The presupposition of both of those words is that merit is involved in our status as a moral agent.

    Since the government is not God, and God allows human authorities and organizations to provide for human flourishing, we understand that we owe both God and government ("Caesar" in New Testament terms) their proper due. But Jesus pointed out that we are to give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's. The two have authority in different spheres, with Caesar deriving his/its authority from God. Historically, when Caesar claimed to be God and demanded worship, Christians defied that demand ("Jesus is Lord"), since Caesar was not to usurp God. Christians paid a heavy penalty for choosing to be faithful to God in Jesus Christ.

    You seem to think of "rights" in the non-historical, very modern sense that "rights" are granted by human governments, and that rights are privileges or entitlements bestowed on people who are recognized by the government. But rights are actually rooted in the nature of human existence as created beings, and based upon our God-given responsibilities to serve Him, serve one another, and be caretakers of the world as revealed in the creation story of Genesis.

    (1) God gives humankind life (not Caesar)

    (2) God gives humankind the ability to act as a moral agent. They were to have dominion and exercise authority, and only had one prohibition - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As moral agents, they had the capacity to perform good works and to perform evil, but the creation was relentlessly oriented toward good except for the single opportunity to be disobedient to God. Since that disobedience, our world is relentlessly oriented toward evil, except for the Christ-empowered opportunities to be obedient to God. But whether we do good or evil, God has granted that ability to us, and the civil authorities only have the ability to deal with things in the realm of the physical - not in the internal attitudes and orientation of our souls.

    (3) The "pursuit of happiness" is an enlightenment concept that runs parallel to the biblical ideas (just described) that humankind should work to be good stewards of their life, to reach their potential, and provide for human flourishing. However, the concept often gets corrupted into blatant self-interest, although a careful reading of the thinkers of the era and the founders of the United States would demonstrate that a government based on blatant self-interest could not endure for long.

    Based on these three insights and the hard lessons of human history, we understand that the power of the state (Caesar) is limited. While the state could use the power of the sword to demand conformity of expression and outward worship, it is powerless to change how people really think and to create sincere, faithful and loving disciples of Jesus (or any other religious system). Therefore, Baptists - from the very beginning - have demanded that the government not use the power of the sword to coerce expression of ideas, force conformity to religious practices (such as infant baptism) or stated beliefs. Historically, the Roman Catholic Church became entangled with the governments of Europe and violated the consciences of Europeans by forcing infant baptism if a child was going to have any sort of citizenship on earth or heaven, and persecuting reformers who called out the corruption in the system. As a result, Baptists called for complete religious liberty through the separation of the church and the state. Roger Williams (a Baptist) was the first person to inaugurate a government with separation of church and state in the colony of Rhode Island, and discovered that religious life flourished. Through a long series of events, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison introduced a bill for religious liberty in the Virginia colony, and then (through the urging of Baptists and other Christians) wrote and argued for the First Amendment to the Constitution (the leading right of the Bill of Rights) to be adopted as part of the new nation's constitution.

    It is God's prerogative to determine whether we live or die. For those who die, they die because they have followed in Adam's sin. For those who are in Christ, they possess eternal life and will be resurrected at the end of the age.

    You are correct, they did not. They worked for the Kingdom of God. As citizens of a REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, we find ourselves in the historically unusual position of being both a subject of Caesar as well as a part of Caesar. Since we have a voice in government, shouldn't we be advocates for everyone's God-given natures, responsibilities and rights? That is part of the gospel calling to love our neighbor, and even our enemies.
     
    #20 Baptist Believer, Feb 7, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
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