August 10, 2002 – Edited: December 30, 2008
Basic Freedoms – Religion, Speech, Conscience
As with some other subjects, I plan to discuss religion and cultism in terms of ethical judgments made independently of government and laws, except in extreme cases where there is criminal activity.
Criticism of some religious teachings doesn’t change the fact that freedom of religion and conscience are essential freedoms 1. Liberty – meaning laws that restrain governments, so that people are left alone in peace – is an ancient hope, value and right.
Freedom of speech is essential also, and private citizens, while respecting the rights of others, should exercise this freedom, and not abandon their human responsibility for truth to “ministries of truth” 2. Ordinary people should speak their minds when they think a person, organization or set of beliefs is potentially harmful to a family member or friend.
More generally, people ought to assert their well-founded ethical beliefs, whether privately or publicly. Instead of leaving a vacuum, we should speak up for objective values and what we know to be true, and not just let the power-hungry ideologies and cults do all the talking.
Standing up for the basic political rights of others – for example, by expressing your opinion to your Member of Parliament 3 – is the same as standing up for your own rights. Respecting the life of others is the same as respecting your own. 4
I am just trying to be clear about this. To me, there are some ideas that need to be criticized – but not suppressed by government. If I describe a religious teaching or practice as “cultic”, it may mean that I am criticizing it more severely than other religious or non-religious ideas, but I believe very strongly that religious freedom should always be respected. (This doesn’t apply when the police need to be called in to protect someone’s rights). Since it would be harmful if the government should interfere in religion and ideas, this is all the more reason why private citizens should deal with these issues through free expression.
Because I could have been excluded because of past religious beliefs (in reality, my beliefs caused me to exclude myself from activities I should have been more involved in), I’m not interested in excluding opinions just because of labels. I am sure many religious writers and thinkers have been defenders of liberties and values, so I expect that positive opinions from such people will be represented at this site. People deserve credit whenever they are right about certain issues – whether they are labelled as believers, atheists, mystics, deists, agnostics, cult members, left-wingers, right-wingers, or whatever else.
 http://www.laurentia.com/ccrf/ccrf.htm, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association. ”
 Reference to 1984, by George Orwell. Some commentary at http://www.orwelltoday.com/truth.shtml
 “Members of the House of Commons” can be found at Canada’s Parliament: http://www.parl.gc.ca/
 http://BibleGateway.com Principle in Matthew 7:12