The Table Briefing: Religious Liberty In A Pluralistic Society -- By: Darrell L. Bock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 172:688 (Oct 2015)
Article: The Table Briefing: Religious Liberty In A Pluralistic Society
Author: Darrell L. Bock

The Table Briefing:
Religious Liberty In A Pluralistic Society

Darrell L. Bock


Mikel Del Rosario

Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor in New Testament Studies and Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Mikel Del Rosario is cultural engagement assistant.

The value a society places on religious liberty suggests the value a society places on liberty in general. Even in a pluralistic society, it seems that the freedom to exercise one’s religious convictions and conscience must be legally valued in order to maintain a free society where a diverse population can work together for the common good.

But what is religious liberty? How does religious freedom relate to the nonreligious? Furthermore, how does the law allow citizens to live out their beliefs about matters of conscience in a pluralistic society?

At the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership, Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford and General Counsel Jeff Mateer joined Darrell Bock to discuss recent legal cases and the importance of religious liberty in a pluralistic society. This article highlights three key points made during these Table Podcast conversations: First, religious liberty is a civil right ultimately derived from God. Second, religious liberty upholds the freedom of conscience enjoyed by both religious and nonreligious people. Third, the law must find a way to balance the compelling interests of the state with the sincerely held religious beliefs of a diverse population.

What Is Religious Liberty?

Religious liberty has long been recognized as the first of all human rights, sourced in a solemn duty to the Creator. As such, religious liberty is a civil right that is not ultimately derived from the government. Indeed, the founders of the United States simply recognized the rights God had already granted human beings. In order to protect these intrinsic rights from being infringed upon by the

federal government, they wrote the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

On an episode of the Table Podcast called “Religious Liberty in a Pluralistic Society,” Jeff Mateer explains how the founders greatly valued civil rights as sourced in God:

Mateer: Our ...

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