Where does religious freedom meet with practical concerns? This question can be approached in many ways, for instance: as a nation that has historically put a very high value on religious freedom, why do we ban human sacrifice? This is one place where the practical concerns of running and maintaining a stable and moral pluralistic society run headlong into a commitment to religious freedom. However, while this is an important question, there’s another way to approach this question as well. Since the mass shooting in Santa Barbara that is now being widely considered a terrorist attack (and I’m not implying here that this position is incorrect, simply that there are still some outstanding questions concerning exactly how much influence any particular terrorist organization had in the attack), hostility towards the American Islamic population is on the rise. There have been numerous reports of practicing and peaceful Muslims being threatened or attacked simply for practicing their religion. For instance, reports abound of Muslim women wearing a traditional hijab being harassed, threatened, or even attacked in the street. This has, for the American Islamic population, raised an entirely new question concerning the collision between religious freedom and practicality: how far do I as an individual take my religious freedom when there are practical threats. For instance, even though it is obviously illegal to attack a woman for being Muslim, many practicing Muslim women have stopped wearing hijabs because of the negative attention (including illegal attention) that the traditional garb currently provokes. However, this is also difficult for them because, for Muslims, wearing a hijab is not simply traditional–it is moral. It is an expression of modesty, and thus this could be compared to how Christian women might feel if they were attacked in the street for wearing something other than a bikini. This isn’t a perfect analogy, of course, but it can be an effective one. Many Christian women would struggle significantly if they felt forced to choose between safety and modesty, and this is the position that many Muslims currently find themselves in. Do I live according to my beliefs? Or do I live in a way that is likely to keep me safe, even if it violates my beliefs?

This is the question that I want you to interact with today: How do we consider the collision between deeply held religious beliefs and practical concerns?

As always, submit your answer in a story of 1000 words.


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