It is astounding how many times I hear something like, “It’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion!” I can no longer abide this egregious divorce from logic and reasoning. Because the people in need of a mental “antibiotic” against this particular strain of flimsy rhetoric need to be able to understand it, I shall explain:
Freedom means you have the option – the choice – to do something or not do it. It is literally in the first definition provided by Merriam-Webster: “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” The absence of necessity means you don’t need to do it. It isn’t necessary. The absence of coercion means no one can force the thing upon you. The absence of constraint means you can pick any variation of the thing you like.
Freedom Means Having a Choice
Without a choice, there is NO FREEDOM. If you take away the choice, it becomes mandatory. Anything mandatory is the opposite of freedom. They are antithetical. They are contradictory. Yes, in the United States of America, we have the freedom to practice any religion we choose. This includes Islam, for those who need to hear it. It includes any religion. It includes NO religion, if you so desire. Thus, the freedom to practice any religion you want also means you have the option to NOT practice any religion. This is how freedom operates. You have the right to express yourself. You also have the right to remain silent. You may purchase a firearm. You may also choose not to purchase a firearm. The choice is yours, as it should be.
So far: choice = freedom. No choice = not freedom.
So how does freedom OF religion also mean freedom FROM religion?
You Have the Right to Escape Imposition From Others
It means you can’t impose your religion onto others. You have to give people the choice. It means when you impose anything religious onto others, you are taking away their choice, which means it is no longer a freedom, but a mandate. You must supply people with the option to opt out. To abstain. The freedom from.
Imposing your beliefs onto others seems all well and good until someone tries to return the favor. Notice how the same people who are so afraid of Sharia Law in America or Britain have no problem imposing Christian regulations onto people who want no part of it. People have a tendency to think that they know what’s best for others, and they come unglued when anyone else holds that same opinion with regards to them. Never mind the fact that it takes a certain type of ignorant audacity to think that one is right about everything. The truth is, people who like to be imposing are afraid of what’s different. Land of the free, home of the brave indeed.
Did you keep up? Freedom OF religion allows us to follow the religion of our choosing. Freedom FROM religion safeguards us from rule of law by religions that are not of our choosing. Both are important in that they are designed to prevent any religion from being imposed by force upon the masses, as was the most common method throughout history. Instead of letting an ideology stand on its own merit, they were (and are) spread through indoctrination and cultural supplanting. Imposition of any idea is indoctrination, and indoctrination is a tactic of the weak. Let your ideas do battle in the arena, where it can either prevail by its strength or die at the hands of a better idea.
In closing: freedom OF religion means freedom FROM religion. Otherwise it isn’t freedom anymore.