PaulKenealy wrote:In any disagreement I ever had with Communists they always claimed Russia was not a Communist society and that true Communism would or would not be "Whatever". Now in your theory Christianity is not what I see and hear but something else. Exactly the same defence put up by the Communists.
The Methodist church is an example of a Christian institution, not Christianity itself. The same could be said for Soviet Russia, it was a discrete example of a communist government, not communism itself.
However, there's a difference.
Ideally, Christianity would be a spiritual endeavor. practically, for life in groups, it becomes a political one as well. Communism, ideally or practically on the other hand, is necessarily a political endeavor which cannot be practiced alone.
The larger the group that intends to practice anything, the greater the set of differences of opinion within it, which fractures the group into sub-groups - denominations, sects, jurisdictions within each of which there are differences.
So, I think the individual can (as distinct from "does") practice religion with a spiritual intent but when that religion enters the public sphere it necessarily becomes political. There are small relatively isolated groups of religious people the ideological homogeneity of which is greater, In the US that might be Amish or Mennonite as opposed to Methodist or Presbyterian but there is still differences of opinion within the group.
Individuals, in order to perpetuate the institution of communal living such that they can enjoy the advantages of it, must submit to mutual understanding which is intended to 1.) set limits on how the individual handles freedom such that he does not abrogate the freedom of others and 2.) does so with the aim of preserving the integrity of the system to maintain those advantages. . . so now we're in the realm of politics, which is a necessary component of organizations. At some point you have to say that individuals must agree to respect and abide the mutual understandings or they can no longer participate fully in the group.
This does not abnegate personal spiritual or religious endeavor, it merely sets limits concerning how you can involve others.
I believe the state should be secular and allow for complete personal religious freedom as long as it doesn't abrogate any rights of others. I believe that this means you can't make laws which are binding on me based on any article of faith held by you.