What Are Freedoms of Expression and Freedom of Religion?

Freedom means being able to be or do whatever you think or feel as long as your nation doesn’t interfere. This obviously can mean living your own life your own way. An obvious example of freedom would be a free bird being allowed to fly out of a prison cell. An obvious example of freedom however is a woman reclaiming her independence after an abusive marriage is complete.

What exactly is meant by freedom? By definition, the right to be responsible for one’s own actions is freedom. But just what is the “freedom” to do? Well, to begin with, we must ask ourselves what exactly freedom means. It is easy to see that political freedom is the ability to make choices and be responsible for those choices, as is individual freedom which includes being the master of ones own actions. These are the only two forms of freedom.

Now, all these freedoms have different meaning. For example, freedom of speech and religion is commonly used interchangeably. The first freedom protects the right to express and promote ideas and opinions. The second protects the right to practice religion. Freedom of the press also falls under this same definition of freedom. Yet, the first two mentioned here are different and narrower freedoms than the other two.

Public education is yet another narrower freedom. Although it is guaranteed by law in most states, this is still not all. Moreover, some argue that one could have both political and personal freedom while practicing public education, but this is still a controversial issue. It should be noted though that some human rights organizations such as the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights refer to educational freedom as a right.

Political freedom, press freedom, religion, etc., are broader than religious freedom. Although all are freedoms, they are all used interchangeably. Freedom of speech and religion, while broad, refers more to the government regulation of what people say and do rather than the freedom of others to speak or do whatever they please. Political freedom on the other hand, refers to the freedom of an individual to participate in politics. Of course, all these freedoms are needed for a functioning society which requires freedom to select leaders and economic policies.

All these freedoms however, are not unlimited. They are, like all other human rights, subject to restrictions and limitations. For example, there is a right to freedom of speech but there is also a prohibition against hate speech. Freedom of religion can be limited by a government policy. Religious intolerance is also considered as a form of intolerance and is illegal.