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0 votes
Is it possible to reconcile Anarchism's fundamental opposition to hierarchy, oppression and coercion, with the seemingly desirable concept of religious freedom and respect for people's personal beliefs?
by (740 points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
My immediate impression is that "religious freedom" is a lot like certain imaginings of "freedom of speech" in that it sounds okay as an abstract concept in a vacuum but tends to cause problems when it turns into real action.

There's no reason to respect hierarchy, oppression, and coercion under the guise of "showing tolerance for people's beliefs". This reminds me of the kind of logic used to argue in favor of allowing white supremacists to organize in public.

(I think there are some deeper ideas I might want to bring up but I'm tired and not going to do that right now.)
by (8.7k points)
+1 vote
"religious freedom" sounds inseparable from the concept of "rights", which has been tackled fairly well in other questions/answers here.

from this anarchist's perspective, "respect" for the personal beliefs of others is largely irrelevant. what seems more relevant is how the personal beliefs of others - or more accurately the actions/behaviors that come out of those beliefs - impact me. if i am impacted negatively, i will not tolerate it. punto.

so i guess i am saying that "beliefs" are too intangible for me to care about (except perhaps - to some extent - in those i am close to and care deeply about), but behavior is where the rubber meets the road.

i once worked with a deeply devout catholic dude, who had 9 kids by the time he was 32 years old. they lived in a church basement, made all their own clothes, home-schooled the kids, etc. most importantly, that guy never once imposed his "beliefs" on me (in fact he never spoke of them), and his behavior never imposed on me either. so i had no problem whatsoever with him. yet i had no "respect" for his "beliefs", they were completely irrelevant to me.
by (13.4k points)