Freedom of speech is the liberty granted to individuals to express themselves freely without any censorship. However, the very rights are subjected to certain limitations such as slander, libel, incitement, obscenity and an intention to commit crime. The discussion on Phoenix pastor who is wishing that President Obama would be dead provides a concise example on the practicality of religious tolerance and freedom of speech.
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It is profound to underscore the fact that both the Phoenix pastor and President Obama have express right to freedom of expression as stipulated in Universal Declaration of Human Rights in article 19. Therefore, the pastor has the right to freely express himself and he should not be censored on the same ground.
As stipulated in Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, the pastor has the right to share ideas and information of all kinds regardless of the periphery involved and in this case, he should not be criticized on the basis that he made the remark against the president of United States of America. On the other hand, the pastor had no right to censor Obama bearing in mind that every individual has the right to exercise his or her freedom of expression.
However, due to the fact that the pastor used discriminatory remarks that could result into incitement and hate speech, it can be argued that he was not justified at all by wishing for the death of Obama. As a matter of fact, even though freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed to all individual, it may not be good taste to openly make such remarks in public both from religious and political points of view.
Furthermore, it is prudent to observe that no single religious code of ethics or principles would permit such utterances at any given time largely due to the fact that it does not promote peaceful co-existence among people, the latter being a core value in religion. Therefore, the Phoenix pastor is unjustified. We can also argue that to some extent, he abused the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and religious tolerance as laid down in the United States constitution (Ontario consultants on religious tolerance par. 1).
In a more critical analysis, the pastor is wrong because there should be a sensible balance when exercising freedom of speech, freedom of religion bearing in mind that religious tolerance should be firmly in place regardless of faith one professes to. In addition, religious freedom of an individual has no impact on the freedom of speech of another person.
Therefore, even though the pastor has the right to exercise his religious freedom, he has no right to interfere with the freedom of Obama in any way. The pastor had no authority or constitutional right to incite his congregation against the United States President even though the latter had commented and apparently gave a nod to contentious debate surrounding abortion.
Moreover, there is need to censor speech on religious issues because individuals have different faiths and hold varying views on certain religious aspects. As a result, the comment made by the pastor was wrong on the basis that he did not merge his religious difference with that of Obama in a tolerant manner but instead tried to suppress the discourse of the speaker. Hence, it was erroneous for him to condemn Obama and wish for his death because he too has the right to speech and religious freedom (Anon par 4).
In a more vivid way, it is also prudent to mention that the very constitution protects the rights of every individual regardless of their political or economic backgrounds. As a president, Obama is also protected by the very constitution irrespective of his religious affiliation or personal take on some matters. If such level of condemnation is permitted in our society and especially at the level of religion, then it may be a real recipe for religious conflicts.
The former United States President, Bill Clinton, once asserted that the best way to practice religious freedom is to use legal mechanisms to protect individuals against hate crimes and discriminations. Hence, on this basis, the pastor was wrong even though he has the right to exercise both freedom of speech and religion, he has failed to observe religious tolerance by spreading hate crimes against Obama and other individuals who may want to express themselves freely.
Furthermore, the pastor did not observe the freedom of religion when he criticized and wished Obama’s death since he abused the anti-defamation policy. Moreover, his criticism was merely as a result of discrimination on the basis that he believed certain religious group support abortion and for Obama, it was not an exception.
Worse still, the pastor failed to put into consideration that religious freedom is the founding principle in United States of America. Hence, he was wrong to remark that president Obama was abusing Christian faith and therefore deserve death. He further failed to honor religious tolerance in the United States of America when he made his speech (Ontario consultants on religious tolerance par 7).
Consequently, the pastor failed to use religion accordingly when he criticized Obama publicly. Religious freedom and freedom of speech should be used for purposes of uniting a nation, securing basic human rights and cultivating prosperity. In addition, the pastor demonstrated his authoritative regime by repressing the members of his congregation and their general ideas in the pretext of creating an environment that will deny them the freedom of speech and religion.
Additionally, his arbitrary and coercive interference in peaceful Christian religion could possibly result into Christians or specifically members of his congregation becoming more resistant towards Obama’s government. His remarks could possibly result into insurgency and separatism of certain religions from the state.
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Furthermore, his remark could highly likely result into negative worsening international relations because he linked extremism with certain religious groups. His remark against Obama was a clear indication that he was trying to widen up the existing divide among religious organizations or groups. Moreover, his speech failed to put into consideration the importance of building common concerns and shared values of religious faith to establish foundations of everlasting peace instead of spreading hate speech against certain individuals.
In summing up, it is vital to reiterate that every individual has the right to speech and no religion should be constitutionally supersede the others.
The fact that President Obama did not use his belief system and freedom of speech to cross into immorality by justifying hatred and intolerance, the pastor had no right or moral standing to spread hate speech against him since anyone who supports religious intolerance becomes a minor among the believers and clergymen. The protests against the Phoenix pastor are a clear indication that he was indeed wrong in his assertion.
Anon. Phoenix Pastor Draws Protests after Telling Church He Prays for Obama’s Death. 2009. Web.
Ontario consultants on religious tolerance. Religious tolerance: Abortions access all sides of the issue. 15 May, 2010. 24 Aug, 2011. Web <http://www.religioustolerance.org/abortion.htm>