Religion or Harmless Folly?

So, too, today, as it has often been throughout history, as long as all you seek is “freedom of worship,” you don’t have much to fear from most governments. You can do whatever elaborate rituals you want inside the walls of your private temple or church. It’s when what you do starts to spill out into the public square, like a fountain of water overflowing its basin, that the overlords get concerned. As long as one’s “religion” is purely otherworldly, most people don’t care whether you worship Zeus or Yahweh or the god of balloon animals.

Modern newspapers that speak out against the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and exhort the government to keep firm the “wall of separation between church and state” have no trouble publishing daily horoscopes, even though belief in astrology is a distinct religious belief, because they know what we all sense: namely, that people who read horoscopes and even those who take them seriously pose no threat at all to the government. Horoscopes have no moral content, which is why they can’t possibly be a threat to anyone in power, no matter how evil. This is also why rarely does anyone ever get persecuted for engaging in astrology. It’s considered “safe.” It’s harmless foolishness.

A religion that says that all laws and executive actions of the government must be judged against a higher standard or authority; that any laws found wanting in this regard are to be resisted; and that “faithful citizenship” is to be judged precisely by one’s resisting the government in this way, now that is dangerous. Such religions rarely escape persecution for long.

(source: Martyrdom Then and Now)