Saturday, September 26, 2009

Threats To Religious Freedom

Threats To Religious Freedom Image
In the U.S., a wall of separation has been established between church and state. Thus, the state and its institutions remain religiously neutral. The government promotes neither religion nor secularism. Church and state try to keep out of each others' path. This is not the situation throughout much of Europe, where most countries have a two (sometimes three) tiered religious system. Some denominations and religions are given special privileges, while others can be actively discriminated against. Many countries have a single recognized state religion which receives special status for cultural and historical reasons. A second group of religions, (e.g. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc) are recognized, but may be given a lower status. The lowest level is populated by small religious groups, which the state may not recognize as religious institutions. These may be regarded as cults or sects, and are sometimes allowed few freedoms.

European threats to freedom of religion, speech and assembly are very different from those in North America. In the U.S. and Canada, the main, concentrated attacks on new religious movements come from:
- The anti-cult movement (ACM). These groups target new religious movements, believing them to be largely criminal, mind-controlling, dangerous cults. The influence of the ACM has been in decline for a few years, partly because of. recent court rulings which have linked them to criminal activities. Law suites drove the largest ACM group, the Cult Awareness Network, into bankrupcy.
- The counter-cult movement (CCM). These groups are largely conservative Christian ministries which hold traditional, historical religious doctrines. They target fellow Christian faith groups whose theology deviates from their own. Although there are many hundreds of CCM groups, most are quite small and often target only a single non-orthodox faith group. Their influence is not great outside of the Evangelical Christianity community.

In much of Europe, there appears to a gradual improvement in religious freedom and tolerance. New religious movements are largely ignored. However the anti-cult movement appears to have taken hold in a few countries, notably: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and Russia. Governments in these countries are now spreading the ACM message. They have inspired religious hysteria, mounted economic attacks on faith groups, and spread heavily biased religious propaganda.

You also may enjoy these free books:

Andrew Lang - Myth Ritual And Religion
Aleister Crowley - Brief Introduction To The Religion Of Thelema
Irv Slauson - The Religion Of Odin