Some people of faith believe that there should be a universal way to understand faith. These people like regulation, structure and measurements of faithfulness, and growth, while others like to define faith in purely doctrinal, or theological ways. There is nothing wrong in and of itself for a group to define its faith in a particular way, but it becomes problematic for these "faithful" to impose their views on others, impinging on another's life. Another's life is thiers to steward in the way they deem fit and for their own personal values and commitments, which may or may not fall "in line" with the afore-mentioned ways of understanding faith.
All Christians believe that life is sacred and the conservative defend to the death the "right to life" of the unborn, while excusing thier disregard to another's "right to life", as far as personal conviction or commitment. But, this is just the discussion of the private and public domains.
Some claim that one's faith is played out in life, as there is no private faith. Faith is always lived. This is true, but how these commitments of value are understood and lived are different from one person of faith to another. In a democracy, we must allow that freedom of conscience, otherwise, we are doomed to live under political or religious oppression...
For instance, China and Russia allow a "state approved" religion, while the Taliban only allow a "religiously approved" way of life. Both are unbalanced ways of coming to terms with faith. One views faith as completely personal and private, while the other views it as completely regulated. Both oppress in different ways. We must not allow this to happen in our country.
Many argue that separation of Church and State does nothing other than disadvantage religion by not allowing a "voice" to the religious, while others claim that their political freedom is disadvantaged by the imposition of that "voice". Where is the balance? What is the solution?
If faith is a playing out of one's commitment in life through action, then there is no reason to believe that whatever one does is a matter of faith. Faith should not be understood in a compartmentalized way, but at the same time, we should not demand a certain response to "prove" faith or faithfulness. Faith is about one's understanding of life and how this understanding comes to be understood.
Religious people have sacred texts that transcibe how life should be lived, according to the interpetive community. This is a sectarian view of faith and is not a universal perspective. Those who base their life on reason do not transcribe to a religious tradition necessarily, but do want reasons for their faith about one or another issue. This is the basis of our democracy and is what our public discourse, where our values are heard in the public square and defended with reasonable reasons. The political realm is where the ideological frames win or loose their power over policy. And this is the freedom of conscience that the Framer's of our Constitution allowed.
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