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  Wednesday November 26th, 2014    

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Freedom of speech (12/06/2009)
From: John Rupkey

It was recently reported that Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to require countries to “limit free speech if it risks seriously offending religious believers.”

The executive director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said he opposes such a treaty. He stated that in Egypt, where such laws exist, they have been used to suppress dissidents and to target reformists who reinterpret traditional Islamic texts.

Sweden’s ambassador to the UN indicated that trying to “protect religions from criticism would weaken the whole notion of human rights.”

Fortunately, here in the United States, we have a long and honored tradition that holds that freedom to criticize religions is more sacred than are efforts to protect religion from criticism. Because of this, we have been able to make significant advances beyond beliefs once supported by many religions, such as slavery, racism, and sexism.

President Obama indicated he is against efforts by Islamic nations to protect religion by restricting freedom of speech. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated she strongly disagrees with the claim that the best way to protect religion is to implement “policies that would restrict freedom of expression.”

It is easy enough for us here in the Christian part of the world to see clearly that it is wrong and counterproductive to restrict criticism of Islam.

But I wonder if we are equally clear about the importance of protecting each person’s right to criticize Christianity when some denominations continue to promote beliefs and encourage behavior that is seen by many as hurtful, unjust, and immoral?

Or are we sometimes willing to look the other way and tacitly support restrictions on criticizing Christianity if those restrictions are placed only on one or two, here and there? 

 

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