the alans

I have been watching Alan Dershowitz and Alan Keyes debate the issue: What is the future of the role of religion in America. I am so grateful that views so diametrically opposed can be aired in opposition to each other. It is only in this kind of forum that we can discover the character of American freedom. That we can think freely, behave freely, talk freely; freely come to the marketplace of ideas with views not synchronized with with our neighbors makes me in an instant marvel at the success of our democracy and weep with a tangible sense of thankfulness to God for our liberty.

However even thinking about our liberty makes me think how the state is systematically making it difficult for people to actually exercise their liberty. It is easy in a time of threat to accept the necessity of giving up our liberty for safety. However it is very difficult to retrieve our liberty from the jaws of the machine that has swallowed it.

I am concerned with political liberty, but my greatest concern is the loss of religious liberty, not from a political perspective, but as an insider from those in the church who hold in their hand the power to restrict the liberty of the individual believer.

This happens in a number of ways, but chiefly from the behavior that scripture does not prohibit, yet recommends prudence in any use. The prime example is alcohol but in our age can be extended without contradiction or compromise to all the panoply of drugs and psychoactive substances available to the modern man.

At the risk of placing myself in a defensive position, I have to put myself in a position to protect those people who are enslaved to these substances. I would like any use of psychoactive substances to be moderate and controlled, without the depredations of addictive behavior. However reality speaks to the impossibility of saving a large minority of users from addiction. This is a travesty of justice and a break from the principle of compassion.

October 2004

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