Our Readers' Opinions
April 27, 2012
Freedom does not imply a free-for-all

Fri, Apr 27. 2012

Editor: The following is in response to a recent essay by Anesia O. Baptiste.

No Pope has ever made himself out to be God, and what is more to the point, no mentally fit Catholic has ever believed any Pope to be God. Statements that suggest the above misrepresent the Catholic Church. One must realize that the church does not consist solely of the Pope.{{more}} The Pope is the chief pastor of the church and together with the Bishops and Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters and the Laity, we form one Church. I defy anyone to quote an official document from teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church that supports the claims made by Ms Baptiste and Mr Ballantyne. For ease of reference, the quote should come from a document presented in the late 20th or 21st centuries. If these beliefs are as blatant and consistent as has been suggested, it should be an easy task. It should also be easy to present current examples of mentally fit, adult Catholics who believe that the Pope is God.

Many people mistakenly equate freedom of speech and religious liberty with license. This is an unfortunate interpretation of these hallowed tenets of democracy. Freedom must go hand in hand with responsibility, vigilance, and honesty, lest serious abuses and harm to public morality, as well as harm to groups and individuals result. Freedom has never meant that it was acceptable to persist in publicly misrepresenting another group’s beliefs on radio and in print; this constitutes slander and libel, and it is simply downright dishonest and irresponsible.

Anyone who presents herself for public office should know the difference between unduly curtailing religious liberty and prudently protecting citizens. A government has a responsibility to scrutinize any new religion within its borders and if it is deemed necessary, to discourage its practice. Contact with new religions may lead to the compromise of public morality; in the young and susceptible individuals it may lead mental instability. There may even be the direct contravention of some of the countries’ laws, leading to physical or financial harm to individuals or groups. A government must make a determination as to whether its citizens face any dangers from a new religion and act accordingly. Let us all recall the Jim Jones and Charles Manson sagas, and be well advised by them.

Contrary to what Ms Baptiste and Mr Ballantyne believe, freedom does not imply a free-for-all; freedom is the ability to act as we should, as opposed to acting as we feel like. We live together in a society, and we have responsibilities to each other.

We can’t simply go around doing and saying as we please, what would happen if we all acted in this way?