The word “freedom” has been drained of any worth. There was a time when it was a foundational article of constitutional republics and democracies the world over. There was a time that young men died in the name of freedom from genuine fascist tyranny. There was a time that the fight for freedom from a genuine oppressor of some type was a cause to join or if not join at least rally to.
Those days are over.
Most demands for “freedom” are pure hypocrisy if they rise above idiocy
But the cry of freedom as a rationale or excuse is at fever pitch. Why is something ridiculous or selfish or anarchic or antisocial or… being done? Why for freedom, of course. Freedom is even invoked when it makes no sense, such as in almost every complaint in the United States that the media or private corporations are imposing on freedom of expression by disallowing some expression of mental indigestion or another.
For clarity, it’s nonsense because the 1st Amendment applies only to the government imposing on the right to express oneself. And that’s just to start. Freedom, quite unsurprisingly spelled out as “fredum” or some equally incorrect variation, is like the universal “get out of jail free” card. Until it’s not. But that’s not what this is about.
Religious people tend to be hypocrites
What this is about is a segment of the freedom claimers that belongs to any form of Judeo-Christian organized religion. This is about the rabid hypocrisy of their demands and claims for freedom. Not necessarily but certainly including religious freedom.
Before getting into this specific consideration, it’s worth putting on the table that a large proportion of religious people are raving hypocrites. Undoubtedly there are many genuine believers who abide by the tenets of their faith. In my experience though, leaving Sunday to Sunday seems to be no problem for many of the faithful, let alone for the leaders. Yes, that would be you Jerry, Jimmy, Jim, Pat, Joel… It is table stakes in many churches.
But those garden variety hypocrites are not what’s troubling and generally has nothing to do with “Freedom.” Except, freedom to keep the grift going. The religious person/freedom nexus is with all those hypocrites who chant, march, spew bile, lie, and often just generally make a nuisance of themselves for the sake of some freedom that they are claiming, demanding, justifying some kind of alleged freedom.
When they do so, it is almost guaranteed that their demand for something—let’s say the right to ignore public orders, like wearing a mask to check the spread a viral pathogen—always quickly gets to the right to freedom… to ignore that order. This could be another essay about the selfish, privately and publicly regressive attitude. But it’s not.
There is NO natural or God-given freedom; it’s certainly not a baseline
The right to freedom claim is always framed as though this freedom or right to it is some natural or God-given right. That is the baseline and so whatever is being opposed is an imposition. Of course this is idiotic on so many levels through so many centuries. Even if one believes in God, it’s idiotic. God hardly granted a right to freedom.
Or, probably more accurately, God did grant a right to freedom. One that was almost instantly taken away from the humans that proved incapable of abiding by the rules and responsibilities associated with it and too weak-minded to protect it. (Look it up. Genesis 2:16 – 3:24)
In point of fact, for those of religious bent, there is probably enough in these verses to set them on their heels regarding pretty much any order from an authority. But this isn’t theology class.
The point I have been late to making is very simple: religious adherents participating in any claim of natural or god-given freedom being imposed on by public order as a reason to defy it are hypocrites of the first order. In addition to the obvious first point just above about God having taken back that freedom, consider the following:
The 10 Commandments
Let’s say that you don’t buy my point about God-given freedom having been withdrawn at the time Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden. Let’s say that you were willing to make spurious contextual and semantic arguments. I absolutely defy you now to prove that the 10 Commandments are not massive, universal impositions on human freedom.
Fully eight of the ten are prohibitions on freedom. These are the ones that begin with or contain the words, “Thou shalt not….” The other two are positive instructions (Keep the Sabbath and Honour your parents). But, one would have to presume that God was not making an idle suggestion of these two. They are, after all, commands. So ten out of ten Commandments are impositions on freedom.
Again, it would be completely expected for you to argue that these are specific and definitive, and if the imposition were not coming from God or were of a different type, then they would be impositions on all the other freedoms (i.e., everything else). A very strict read and interpretation of an allegorical situation. Not dubious at all.
The Sermon on the Mount
Matthew recounts Jesus’ admonitions to his followers and the assembled for how to behave (Matthew 5-7). It is a formidable part of the Christian moral universe replete with guidance and the centrality of what it means to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. Again, as with the Commandments, it is not really my intention to debate the fullness of these declarations. It is, however and again, my desire to point out that the Sermon is several chapters worth of direction for how to behave if one is a Christian. Certainly the organized Churches promulgate it in their followers.
That has to be an imposition on freedom. For a Christian that wants to remain a Christian in good standing, it is kind of important to abide by these and many other rules (many of which have been appropriated by the organizations, but that’s another story). If you don’t, then, well you are at the very least a bad Christian at the worst, excommunicate. That’s a pretty fair reduction in freedoms even if they were natural or God-given.
The real point is that religious people are more than abundantly familiar with complaint to impositions on their personal freedom that come from their social leaders, or elders. Some might actually fool themselves into believing these are somehow acceptable constraints because they come from God, not from man. It’s ridiculous or if not let Him smite me now.
Moreover, it’s imposed and enforced by men even if its origination were God. The parallel, of course, is that the social freedoms or lack thereof (i.e., the impositions on freedom) tend to come from historical precedent for the social order. These are centuries old. They are codified. For all intents and purposes, they have the same origin and stature.
So, please, if you won’t stop being hypocrites, at least stop being falsely outraged when your bluff gets called. Be fearful that you will be seen naked and prepare to be cast from the Eden you’re in.
Check out some of my other extended essays and such (My Oeuvre).