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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The War on Words

            We live in an era of an advanced war on words.  The meaning of words is constantly being redefined.  We live in a world where the exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty over the meaning of words occurs daily.  
           "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. "It means just what I choose it   
           to mean - neither more or less."
          "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
          "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is master - that's all."
Common usage of words is no longer the master.  In such a world it is important to reclaim the meaning of words before they have no meaning at all.  But too often they pass by us without comment.

Ann Furedi, head of the pro-abortion British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said in a debate last year "There is nothing magical about passing through the birth canal that transforms it from a fetus into a person."  If one accepts her definition of "fetus", who knows that the definition of "baby" becomes, for it is in the actual process of birth that the fetus becomes a baby.  Such redefinitions place us on a slippery slope as to the impact of meanings.  "Pro-choice" has come to mean "anti-choice" as most of its advocates adamantly oppose allowing mothers-to-be to have all available options before them.

The biggest battle going on today is over the definition of the freedom of religion which is protected in the Bill or Rights.  Some have attempted to make the statement plural, allowing for freedom of religions.  This changes the meaning of freedom of religion to "I have the freedom to be a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Buddhist, etc."  It takes the concept of pro-choice in its true meaning, the ability to choose among competing options.

There are also many today who are attempting to redefine freedom of religion as freedom of worship, claiming that they are the same.  But there is a vast gulf between them.  Freedom of worship gives us the right to freely attend the place of worship of our choice for one hour a week.  I can express my religious vies in church, but someone else can tell me what should influence my life and beliefs the rest of the week.  It offers no protection during the remaining 167 hours of the week.  My religious values and conscientious stance can be negated once I am outside the confines of the church building.  Using the analogy of clothing for religious values, it would be like having to strip at the church doors and walk out into the parking lot naked, remaining that way until reentering the church the following Sunday.  Effectively this is what the redefinition of religious freedom to be freedom of worship does.

Freedom of religion, on the other hand, is concerned with the living of all of life based on religious convictions and moral values.  It affects all areas of our lives, day in and day out.  It allows us to make choices based upon our religious convictions without fearing consequences.

It is unfortunate that in the latter half of the twentieth century many Christians acted more as if they had freedom of worship, with their religious life having a negligible impact of their daily lives.  If we continue to live this way, the attempted redefinition will become the new definition.  Those who base their lives on religious convictions will then suffer the most.  It is time to actively pursue what we want.  Is it freedom of worship or freedom of religion?

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