Policy Analyst Explores Religious Tolerance

With religious tolerance as a hot topic in today’s society, a recent lecture, called “What Religious Freedom Is and What It Is No,t” explained the drive for religious tolerance.

More than 100 people gathered Monday night for a lecture featuring Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The lecture encompassed United States history and its ties to religion, Boston’s seven points of religious freedom and concluded with a question and answer session.

As a contributor to four major news stations, an author of three books and an assistant editor to the “Church & State” magazine, Boston said tolerance for all religions and backgrounds must be realized.

“When it comes to religious liberty in America, you get to do what you like, but you don’t get to tell me what to do,” he said. “This is the way it works. It’s very give and take.”

Boston said the primary difference between what is and what is not religious freedom is the recognition that religious freedom is for everyone.

“They’re all equal in the eyes of the law,” he said. “Religious freedom is for everyone and every group, not just the select few who seem to feel entitled.”

The lecture focused on seven points to define religious freedom, one of which is stated in the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

These discussions of religious freedom have been around since the time of the founding fathers, Boston said.

“In a free society, people are going to challenge your ideas,” Boston said. “We are required to let people speak. We do not require people to agree. You cannot look to the State to decide who is right and who is wrong when it comes to religion. Religious freedom means you have the right to speak, but you cannot force anyone to follow.”

Some students said they found the lecture insightful for their future careers.

“There are a lot of people here for extra credit for class, but I just think it’s relevant to my career,” sophomore criminal justice major Paola Trujillo said. “It’s interesting and it’s important to society.”

Sophomore hospitality major Hannah Koci said she felt she was able to relate to Boston.

“Although it may be challenging to be accepting of every religious standard or viewpoint, it is important to learn tolerance and see how people’s spiritual values shape the way they live their lives,” she said. “Religion is both a personal, and now, public, matter.  It influences the government, schools, sexuality and health when it comes to policy and decision-making.”

As the level of tolerance of those different than one another slowly increases, Boston said, he hopes the future shines brighter.

“There is not likely a theology that will be a one-size-fits-all for any faith,” he said. “That’s why we can appreciate the diverse opinion.”