Saturday, September 26 2020 - 12:49 AM
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Freedom of Conscience

The motivation I have to defend another person’s religious and political beliefs, even when I don’t agree with their position, is strong. Perhaps it’s in my DNA and has something to do with what my distant relatives went through.

The French side of my ancestry has been traced by my dad and brother to a young Huguenot couple named Isaac and Suzanne du Bosc who migrated to Charleston, South Carolina in the 1680s to escape religious persecution in France. Somehow along the way our name was changed to DuBose. Our name change was traced through a company that uses DNA to verify matches.

They understood what it meant to be free and struggled to keep the flame of religious tolerance alive.

Interestingly enough, they were driven from their homeland by religious people—fanatics—church people who insisted that everyone must believe alike—so much so that they were willing to kill everyone who didn’t agree.

I think we as a country are headed toward a time when every aspect of freedom will be challenged and possibly redefined.

As a nation, we are not where we were 50 years ago, or even less. And those of us who value truth (scientific, historical and religious) must view ourselves as pilgrims passing through an ethereal landscape of fables, arrogance and revered ignorance. Embracing truth can get you killed! If you don’t think so, read the story of Jesus.

I am grateful to my immigrant relatives who stepped into the unknown to try and better their lives and protect their inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience.

Now is a good time to defend the freedoms you have, as well as those of your neighbors. But they must be “rights” that do not threaten the health, or well-being of others, or impinge upon their freedoms. There is no such thing as “unlimited freedom.” You don’t have the right to randomly kill people who are not threatening your life. I don’t have the right to force someone else to cabbage (yes, this is a laughable analogy). Or, I don’t don’t have the right to tell a person how to pray or who they must pray to.

The Golden Rule spells out how we should exercise our individual freedoms, in relation to the freedoms of those around us. Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12, NLT).

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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