What a Russian punk band reveals about religious pluralism

Julia K. Stronks

David Hawley
August 21, 2012

When we are preoccupied with our differences rather than what we have in common, I think it is inevitable that we push for our own vision of what is good and evil when we have the strength to do so. How could we remain neutral and live with ourselves? And it seems we find so little in common in these days.
Pat Robertson was wise when he spoke about the reluctance of some to bear the burden of internationally adopted children: we should not insist others follow the law of love.

Karen Swallow Prior
August 22, 2012

Excellent post. Thank you.

Robert Joustra
August 22, 2012

Fantastic piece Julia.

Marta L.
August 24, 2012

I was more than a little surprised that you can be put in prison in Russia for blasphemy. Yes, it sounds like Pussy Riot was blasphemous to the Russian Orthodox faith, but that should in no way be a crime. I personally find it very offensive to think of a government deciding what counted as blasphemy/orthodoxy and penalizing citizens in question, whatever the faith in question is my faith or someone else's.

Aside from that, I think there is an important distinction between the PR trial and <i>some</i> acts justified in terms of religious freedom in the US. Turning blasphemy into a crime tries to force other people to follow a religion's dictates whether they accept that religion or not. That's very different from protecting the right of people to practice their freely-chosen religion.

The ACA contraception thing provides an interesting case study in this. Catholic/evangelical universities and hospitals are pushing to be exempted from it. Read one way, the ACA mandate is keeping them from following their religion since it forces them to pay for something they consider immoral. Read another, however, exempting a Catholic university means forcing its employees (Catholic or otherwise) to live according to Catholic teachings. It's not that simple, of course, because the ACA only requires payment for contraception, not the actual use of it; and conversely, the lawsuits only would mean those institutions wouldn't pay for their employees' contraception, not that those employees couldn't buy it on their own. But I think this is an interesting point to start from: does the ACA mandate ensure peoples' religious freedom if their bosses have a different religion, or does it restrict it?

Even recognizing the question I think means we have to look at our "rights" a different way. Sometimes the better part of Christian love is recognizing our rights aren't the only one we need to look at when figuring out what's <i>good</i>.

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