RCH: Religion in the USSR

That’s the topic of my weekend column at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

4. Buddhism was also outlawed and persecuted to the fullest extent of the Soviet law. Buddhism was practiced by a few different non-Russian ethnic groups in central Asia, and these small ethnic groups were given more leniency than most, but Buddhism came to be viewed by the Soviet intelligentsia as extremely dangerous, due to the fact that many left-leaning scholars abandoned socialism for Buddhist principles. The work of Andrei Znamenski, a historian of religion and ideology at the University of Memphis, is particularly useful for finding out why this happened.

Please, read the rest. Dr Znamenski, of course, blogs here on occasion, but I do wish he’d do so more often…

Nightcap

  1. Centrists against freedom Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling
  2. Civility and Property vs. Politics Jeff Deist, Power & Market
  3. Justice Kennedy Retires, and the Legal and Political Ramifications Are Immense David French, the Corner
  4. Religious Bric-à-Brac and Tolerance of Violent Jihad Jacques Delacroix, Liberty Unbound

Nightcap

  1. How did the West get religious freedom? Mark Koyama, Defining Ideas
  2. Are asylum rights misguided? Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
  3. What Does China’s 5th Research Station Mean for Antarctic Governance? Nengye Liu, the Diplomat
  4. The forthcoming changes in capitalism? Branko Milanovic, globalinequality

Nightcap

  1. Tech platforms and the knowledge problem Frank Pasquale, American Affairs
  2. Exploring the New Science of Psychedelics Mick Brown, Literary Review
  3. A new history of Islamic mysticism Kamal Gasimov, Voices on Central Asia
  4. Within the triangle of politics, philosophy, and religion Aurelian Craiutu, Law & Liberty

The Why of Religious Freedom

The blogosphere has exploded over wedding cake. The Supreme Court has splattered the internet with fondant and rage. Baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, has achieved a modest win: human rights commissions cannot exhibit a hostility toward religion when enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

When a major religious-rights case hits the news, I’ve noticed a pattern. The outrage extends not to just the individual case but to the concept of religious freedom generally. Angry bloggers and tweeters love to insert scare quotes around the phrase “religious freedom,” as if donning latex gloves to handle toxic sludge. And the Colorado judge below certainly showed deep disdain for Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs, which is perhaps the major reason that Phillips won. This pattern of skepticism toward religious freedom writ large signals that we should perhaps retreat to first principles. Why do religious practices and beliefs receive special treatment? Continue reading