A funny thing happens when freedom and religion mix. Freedom changes from a transparent substance to take on the color of whatever religious group claims it as its own.
Here in the United States, right wing Christians who insist that they be granted unrestrained liberty in the practice of their religion have spent the summer protesting against religious liberty for Muslims. They’ve demanded that Muslims be banned from constructing any place of worship, not just just in New York City, but all across the country. One group, in Florida, is attempting to start a nationwide Koran Burning Day in protest of the recognition of Muslims as equal in America.
At other times, these right wing Christians have exclaimed that freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion. They’re insisting very loudly now, however, that they be granted the freedom from Islam – even the freedom from the presence of it down the block from where they live.
Over in Indonesia, Muslims are protesting in angry response to this summer’s anti-Muslim Crusade in the USA. Are they protesting in favor of freedom? Well, yes and no. They’re protesting for freedom for American Muslims, but against the freedom of other people to protest against American Muslims. They’re calling for the U.S. government to stop the Koran burning protests from taking place, though they’re a legal form of protest, so long as they’re conducted in accordance with fire safety codes.
Two religions. Two sets of protests. Both are demanding the same thing: That they not be required to suffer the offensive consequences of other people’s freedom any longer.