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Oct 15 2014

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Women’s Rights Dependent on Religious Liberty – Take God out of America, Women Lose

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A recently published study found women have more freedom in countries that maintain religious liberty.

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Association and a scholar at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, published an analysis of the correlation.

Grim’s data was derived from the most recent Pew Research Center studies and statistics from the United Nations.

Grim says he reviewed and analyzed data on religious freedom and gender equality from both the Pew Research Center and the United Nations. He said that there is a direct correlation.

“When you have religious freedom, you have a diversity of both viewpoints and how that religion is interpreted, which allows for a greater examination of women’s role in society,” Grim said. “That means there is greater freedom for women when there is religious freedom.”

Conversely, he said, “When you try to keep religious viewpoints from being a part of the public discussion, you’re having less input on ideas and society. Societies today really need information and a variety of viewpoints in order to find solutions to take us forward. Religion is a very important part of the public discussion.

“Where religion is allowed to have a voice to give different viewpoints, it can stimulate economic ideas, social ideas,” Grim said. “The benefits of free religious expression are good for society in general, and that coincides with what you’re observing.”

American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow says he’s not surprised at the results of Grim’s research, especially in the area of women’s rights.

“When people are free to choose to believe, not believe or change what they believe, they are experiencing freedom that too few will ever truly know,” he said. “Women’s freedom, like so many other freedoms, is tied to religious freedom, and many more people need to understand and accept this key finding.”

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Grim explains the chart he created for the study shows the nations that have the most restrictive religious freedom and the most frequent violations of women’s rights in the upper right quadrant.

Asked to describe how he evaluated the information, Grim used the recent ISIS takeover in northern Syria and northern Iraq as his primary example.

“You can see that in northern Iraq and Syria where ISIS has come in, you can see they have no constraints and no respect at all for religious freedom. It’s their way or the highway. They issue ultimatums to join their perspective on religion or be executed,” he summarized. “When we [compare] their policies on the treatment of women, requiring their women to be veiled or some of the abuses that have come about, you can see the direct connection.”

It’s not only the Middle East that demonstrates the correlation.

“It’s a general pattern that works across countries, whether it’s a Muslim society or a non-Muslim society,” Grim said. “You can have some countries with high restrictions and also high gender inequality, such as India, which is not a Muslim-majority country.

“It tends to be a functional relationship between what happens when religious freedom faces a lot of restrictions. What goes into that measure are government policies that prevent a diversity of religious groups having free practice in a society, so therefore the voices for religion are minimized,” Grim said.

While Grim wouldn’t point to Islam as the major violator of religious freedom and women’s rights, he says any country that holds a religious monopoly can define everything about religion.

Terrorism analyst, author and Jihad Watch publisher Robert Spencer, however, didn’t hesitate to identify the religious affiliation of most of the countries in the chart’s upper right.

“All but two are Muslim countries, and that is no surprise. Islamic law both prohibits religious freedom and denies equality of rights to women. It institutionalizes the inequalities that are the subject of the study,” Spencer said.

Grim notes that more religious freedom also means more political and business freedom.

“What I found in looking through the data is that when governments restrict religious freedom, that’s the strongest predictor of religious violence. However, all of these things are related,” he said. “Where you have respect for freedom of speech, that means you can also preach freely. It means you can publish freely, and you can have democracy because democracy needs a variety of viewpoints to work.”

Liberty Institute CEO and President Kelly Shackelford agrees.

“The one thing that totalitarianism will never allow is citizens who hold an allegiance to one higher than the government. When totalitarianism comes in, therefore, the first flash point or attack will be religious freedom. It is the window into all a country’s freedoms. If you lose it, you will lose all your freedoms,” Shackelford said.

Grim says the bottom line is that other freedoms cannot exist without religious freedom.

“You can have freedom of speech, but if you don’t have religious freedom, that’s only a halfway measure. In the same way, you can’t really have freedom of religion and not have freedom of speech. You have to have the whole package to make all of the freedoms work,” Grim said.

Sekulow says it’s no coincidence that the First Amendment to the Constitution opens with religious freedom.

“When true religious freedom exists, all other freedoms flow naturally from that source,” he said. “With freedom of religion comes the freedom of speech and assembly. The findings of these statistical comparisons are important, but not surprising given the ACLJ’s work in constitutional, international and religious liberty law.”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/womens-rights-dependent-on-religious-liberty/#AhjqD37MmFuhiIod.99

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