Social Question

artemis5200's avatar

If this country(USA) is not a country of religious freedom or freedom from religion where would someone move to find such freedoms?

Asked by artemis5200 (139points) April 30th, 2010

I like the idea of being free to follow most any religion of not to have to follow a religion at all, however, some argue that this country was founded on judeo-christian beliefs and that it was never intended to house all these different religions. I am not sure I would agree with that as a fact (would think that Ben Franklin might have something to say on that). But iI was wondering if there is any country in the world where religious freedom or freedom from religion is better than here in the USA?

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50 Answers

Fyrius's avatar

You’ll have to specify which country is “this country”. There are more nationalities than one on this site.

Edit: Never mind, I see you mentioned the USA.
Still, I think it would be nice if you’d not pretend the rest of us aren’t here.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

For me, this country is the USA and we have that freedom.
Except for AZ, they’ll kick you out at gunpoint if you’re not a christian citizen.

Akiora's avatar

It depends how you define religious freedom. Take France for example – there, separation of church and state is upheld rather strictly. Though you have freedom in which, if any, religious views you hold, you are often barred from expressing this publicly. To some, that resitriction is ‘freedom,’ but for others, it is ‘limitation.’

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Last time I checked Estonia had 14% of people that listed religion as important to them – I was very surprised but there you go, you can go there.

Parrappa's avatar

Being that I don’t give a fuck about religion, I would just join whatever religion I needed to so I could stay in my favorite country, America.

talljasperman's avatar

Antartica…future space colonies

earthduzt's avatar

Here you go, perfect place :) This

I would love one by the way

artemis5200's avatar

@earthduzt and at just 9million what a deal!!

JLeslie's avatar

This will be interesting. I don’t have an answer since I live in America and am not very aware of religious freedom in other countries. I guess we would also need to know as @Akiora stated what exactly is religious freedom? The government perserving it? The people in the country actually being religiously tolerant? My sister-in-law, who is Mexican once said to me how wonderful she thinks it is that our president says, “God bless the United States of America,” at the end of speeches, that in her country it would never be allowed because of separation of church and state. Yet, Mexico is very Catholic, and being a religious minority, you really feel it in that country.

I think America does a pretty good job of protecting religious freedom, even though I complain about religion in our country all of the time. I would think a place like Denmark must be very good along these lines, just a guess. They seemed to be one of the more civilized countries from what I can tell.

Fyrius's avatar

Well, I think there are plenty of places where freedom of religion is lived up to more seriously than in the USA. Europe has several of them, even though most nations there actually do have a centuries-old Christianity-or-the-stake history.

For example, the Netherlands are ruled by democratically elected politicians of various religions.

The countries of Scandinavia seem to be particularly secular.

In France, it’s a hot topic whether or not Muslim girls should be allowed to wear head scarves in school, and I believe Denmark has a similar issue about the construction of minarets. In both cases, the fact that it’s an issue shows the people aren’t entirely tolerant of the Islamic religion, but meanwhile, the fact that it’s an issue also shows they do value freedom of religion.

But from what I hear, stay away from Italy. Not even just the Vatican.
@Thammuz could tell you all about it.

cazzie's avatar

I felt pretty free and happy in New Zealand. They are quite liberal, supportive… tolerant. There was some prejudice against the Maori and other Pacific Islanders that was hard to hear at times… a few people I should have slapped, probably…. but as far as religion… it was quite free, accepting….

Norway has no separation of church and state…. it’s a whole other discussion. If you want to hear about that, let me know….I’ll write a bit of what I know.

CMaz's avatar

We have it hear. But, you just have to follow the rules of the club.

xxii's avatar

I’d say Singapore allows for an exceptionally large degree of religious freedom. I think the only restriction is on Jehovah’s Witnesses, because they refuse to salute the flag or carry out mandatory national service.

JLeslie's avatar

@xxii Does restriction mean they do now allow that religion in the country?

artemis5200's avatar

@cazzie New Zealand was a place I have thought to move to. The only problem is the difficulty of bring pets into the country from the US. Quarantine is not quite as long as the UK or Ireland, I believe. (and I wouldn’t have to learn too much of a new language lol)

xxii's avatar

@JLeslie Yes. The government banned the Singapore Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying that their religion was prejudicial to public welfare because they refused on religious grounds to perform military service, swear allegiance to the state or salute the flag. The official provision is that “every citizen or person in the country has a constitutional right to profess, practice, or propagate his or her religious belief so long as such activities do not breach any other laws relating to public order, public health, or morality.”

JLeslie's avatar

@xxii Interesting. I think Scientology is illegal in Germany? I might be wrong. Maybe it is that they don’t recognize it as a religion, which might be slightly different.

Berserker's avatar

You could try Canada, where people just don’t give a fuck about it lol.

cazzie's avatar

@artemis5200 Yeah… I’d consider it an insult if you brought a cat into New Zealand. Try Canada.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I know that freedom of religion is limited here in the United States. Native American people get persecuted regularly for practicing their religious beliefs. Protections for us are limited. I do not know if any other country has a better system, all I am saying is that we can certainly use some improvement.

CMaz's avatar

That damn conflict of interest.

xxii's avatar

@JLeslie – I don’t believe Scientology has a significant amount of influence in Singapore. Most probably have not heard of it. It’ll be interesting to see what Singapore makes of it.

Vincentt's avatar

As long as your not Islamic then you’ll find yourself pretty free to be religious or not in the Netherlands ;-)

From what I’ve heard, Turkey, though having a very large percentage of Muslims, has quite a strict separation from church and state, if that’s what you’re inquiring after.

slick44's avatar

@talljasperman… You read my mind. antartica

Coloma's avatar

Freedom like happiness is an inside job, a ‘state’ of mind.

Practice whatever you want, however you want, you need no permission other than your own.

Why would you need to practice in the public eye anyway, you can access your spiritual side anywhere at anytime.

It seems to me that either you are true to your beliefs privately, or, it’s more of an ego thing, to force others to accept you in whatever you choose.

jazmina88's avatar

I want to go to africa, stand on top of a mountain, happening to see a ton of animals and I’d yell out “Chuuuurch”.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Coloma Most spiritual beliefs have some sort of ceremonial aspect that is practiced with others. There are many many reasons for said ceremonies but they are often subject to the public even if you don’t want them to be. Sometimes that spirituality is about community so practicing alone would not fulfill your spiritual need.

susanc's avatar

Agree strongly with what @RedPowerLady just wrote. Some of us – me too, @Coloma – practice a kind of quiet religion out in the woods and the wind, but many traditions are more community-based, more ritual-based. If I felt I belonged to one of those, I’d be terrified if I thought the government was going to suppress those acts. Those are holy acts.

susanc's avatar

and actually, I’m already not terrified but impatient and despairing, when I know the government’s suppressing anyone else’s holy acts. I know the government has been confused a number of times by the uses of ingested substances, confusing ritual magic with high times. Fools that they are. Fearful idiotic vote counters that they are. Sigh.

Coloma's avatar

I understand whats being said. I was simply pointing out, that ultimately, regardless of public freedoms ones spiritual connection just is, it cannot be rendered moot or defiled just because one is kept from participating in the public throng.

Yep, I’m the zen girl in my forest retreat, do not feel any need to gain acceptance or meditate under public scrutiny.

I was in Taiwan last month, quite diverse. Mostly different sectors of Buddhism, but a % of Christian and Catholic as well. I was suprised to see a catholic church in downtown Taipei city, it did feel out of place with all the temples and monks and wish burning and tai chi in the parks. lol

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Coloma it cannot be rendered moot or defiled just because one is kept from participating in the public throng

But one’s spirituality can be negatively affected by persecution and that happens to many people who practice their spiritual beliefs communally. Not to mention, like I said before, that for some people their spirituality is formed within a community so yes it can be mute without it.

Coloma's avatar

It’s an age old dilemma.

I have no answers.

lillycoyote's avatar

@artemis5200 Yeah, but check this one out. It’s only $34,000 for your own effing island. 6.25 acres. That’s a hell of a deal or else there’s something wrong with it. Crazed serial killers roaming the woods, smoke monsters, who knows.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The erosion of protection for human rights in the USA is becoming increasingly clear. The more influence political parties confer on the increasingly vocal and politically active religious right, the more xenophobic and religiously intolerant the climate in the USA will become.

It is an odd turnabout for a country founded by pilgrims seeking to AVOID religious persecution. America has come to accept and tolerate expression of the most outrageous hateful opinions about Muslims and history should have taught all of us that in a climate where one religious group can be subjected to religious persecution and marginalization, other groups define by religion, language, gender identification or political perspective have no justification to feel safe.

For a country whose constitution promotes a separation of church and state, the USA has become polarized along lines of religious extremism as severe as Iran after the Islamic revolution. No one should rely on outdated notions that the USA is a haven of tolerance and a place open to newcomers from around the world.

People run off at the mouth about how Mexicans in the USA are taking away jobs from legal American residents.

The jobs these foreigners do offer low pay, no job security or benefits and are the kind of work those who complain so bitterly would NEVER do even if they were on the verge of starvation.

Truth has so little to do with their intolerance. These hateful lowlifes get pleasure blaming people who are the easiest and most convenient targets.

In Fascist regimes leading up to World War too, the general populace was told that all their economic troubles were the fault of an identifiable group arbitrarily selected based on irrational hatred and prejudice. When such lies are repeated over and over, the ignorant hordes adopt these beliefs because it is easier than thinking for themselves or taking responsibility for fixing what is really wrong with their country.

The economic corruption on Wall Street that crushed the US economy has nothing to do will illegal immigration. It had to do with total deregulation perpetrated by Republican politicians who advocated that the market could and should police itself. This opened the door to the sub-prime mortgage disaster. The shameless profiteering of financial institutions who lied about their financial status wiped out peoples personal savings and the pension plans of employee groups. Mexicans did not cause this messes!

The loss of jobs in the auto manufacturing industry was also not cause by Mexicans!

The loss of high paying jobs in the financial sector were not their fault either.

When the economy is bad, people affected by those problems look for some group on whom to blame all the problems. The rise in widespread intolerance against identifiable groups is compounded by the hysterical and false proclamations of the false prophets of the extreme-right media.

The Glenn Becks and the Bill O’Reilleys and the Rush Limbaughs tell you who is to blame and who you are supposed to hate and distrust.

People looking for countries where religious tolerance is well established can look to Canada, and several of the Scandinavian countries.

The USA has ceased to live up to its ideals and founding principles. What a pity!

Coloma's avatar


I was going to buy an island a few years ago, one catch, a lot of them disappear at high tide.
I was looking at one off the coast of Tonga. lol

Coloma's avatar


I think it all boils down to the one other certainty besides death & taxes.


Things change, nothing to blame the vast majority of the time.

Not absolving the criminal faction.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Coloma Here’s another cheap one, in Panama. Here’s one of the selling points: “The island used to have a little house built on it, the only thing that remains from that is the septic tank and the toilet bowl, a throne at the highest point of the island.” LOL!

Coloma's avatar


Haha, yep..I can just see myself standing on my little sinking island!

I figured I could swim to the big island for a nice plate of steamed grubs during high tide. lolol

Thammuz's avatar

To corroborate what @Fyrius said: yes, stay away from Italy for pete’s sake.

The concept of separation of church and state here is nonexistent, the catholic majority doesn’t give a shit about the minorities, the church meddels with politics on a daily basis (and when it gets called out on it it hides behind the fact that they only give directions to the catholics) and the people on average are far more close minded, brainwashed, apathetic and xenophobic than the rest of europe. AVOID.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Although I agree that we have some pretty loud mouths in the media who seem to be hateful in the US, and do not seem to understand religious freedom and tolerance, I also see that we have Amish communities that are not interferred with, and more houses of worship than other countries. Religion is a live and well in the USA. I agree Canada seems to be even more religiously tolerant, more inclusive. Scandanavian and other European countries are simply less religious I think, and so religion is less of an issue from what I can tell. I have heard that the Scandanavian countries are having trouble with Muslims though. It almost seems to me they were naive in their understanding of some of the complications that can arise when a group that is very different culturally and religiously come into a country in significant numbers. But, maybe my undersatnding of what is happening in Scandanavia is not accurate. I still agree that they and Canada seem very religiously tolerant, but there are some problems I think.

Fyrius's avatar

Most of western Europe seems to be having trouble with Muslims. I know France and the Netherlands do.
It’s to be expected. A lot of Muslims migrate to western-European countries, but strongly hold on to their Islamic values and principles, which include a number of things western European culture is glad to have left behind (e.g. misogyny, homophobia, scriptural literalism), as well as the notion that the whole world should become Muslim. The indigenous people worry about cultural assimilation, and want to make it clear that they’re not going to be a pushover.
I don’t think this is a matter of religious tolerance, as much as a matter of socio-politics. If it were only for their religion, the Muslims wouldn’t be an issue. There are people with weirder beliefs who are left alone.

JLeslie's avatar

@Fyrius It makes sense. That is why I added cultural differences to my statement. I think to the radical Muslim maybe there is no difference between culture and religion (same with any religion when they are extremists). To us it is two different things. I think people who are less religious see it as perfectly logical to keep religion a private matter, and that we can all get along in society, because everyone who is not religious, or even moderately religious, in the industrialized nations agree overall on what is rational acceptable behavior. Where do you live?

Fyrius's avatar

Well, that is a good point. Let me rephrase, then: the one part of their religion that is problematic is the part that could have serious socio-cultural ramifications. The intolerance that does happen, is not because it’s a religion, it’s because of its influence on the future. And thus to the people who oppose the Muslims, it’s not about religion.

I live in the Netherlands. We have Geert Wilders as the main voice of anti-Islamic sentiments here.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Coloma You’re going to stand? You’re not going to survey your sinking kingdom from the “porcelain throne?” :)

JLeslie's avatar

@Fyrius All I can say is I hope the Netherlands holds steady. I am all for the law of the land being the final word, even though I believe in religious freedom. In the end they came to your country. Why did they come if they did not embrace the culture? These are not minor cultural differences we are speaking of, if I understand correctly, but fundamental beliefs of right and wrong. I am very ignorant to much of what is going on in your country regarding this issue. Do their children go to public school? Does the next generation seem to be assimilating?

Fyrius's avatar

I went to a public high school with a lot of Muslim kids. I think a lot of them integrate well. I never got to know any of them except the three in my own class, but that’s to blame on my own loner habits. I never was very good at assimilating, myself. :P

Of course, you get Muslim subcultures and whatnot, but I think serious cultural isolation into islands of Middle East inside the Netherlands is a relatively rare thing. Thankfully.

The clashing beliefs are the indigenous ideas of egalitarian tolerance and freedom of speech and a number of traditional Islamic beliefs that don’t match with that. Thus, Muslims who want to integrate here will have to let go of some of their beliefs, or become very moderate about them. And of course, that’s difficult for them.

As for what brought them here in the first place, I believe somewhere in the second half of the last century, the Dutch basically invited a lot of them over to come work here. Maybe to help with rebuilding everything after the war. My history is a bit poor.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, France wasn’t in the past and many French Huguenots moved to find such freedom, e.g. in areas what is now called Germany.

GODincenter's avatar

Are you sure we are free from religion? Think!!!!
We are manipulated by religious right..using political influence.
Those influences are not free. Policies when they are designed by religious influences, they religion is not free, and nation preaching freedom is also not true.
What counts is honest and pure truth.

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