Saturday, September 06, 2014

Sharia Share

My uncle Terre shared a story to his facebook wall which I felt required more than a simple thumbs up-thumbs down or twenty-five word response to. This screed is that response. The story concerns a group who are posting bills in an East-London Borough who are attempting to enforce Sharia Law in their neighborhood.

It should be mentioned – before I go on-to why I find this story disturbing – that this story takes place in London. The UK does not have the benefit of the establishment clause that the US has enshrined as the first clause in the bill of rights:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
In fact, far from it! The first amendment is there largely because Great Brittan legally has an established state religion. This story is demonstrates one of the problems that the founding fathers were trying to quash by preventing the establishment of any state religion. This article is NOT intended to espouse any abridgment nor denigration of any religious beliefs nor their legal practice. It is simply my observations of some of the implications of the post (linked-to above).

I find this story interesting. I find it scary, to be sure, but still highly disturbing and not just for the reasons that you probably shared this item. Why do I find it scary? Because, in this story we see a lot of religious zealots who believe that through force they can enforce their religious beliefs on their neighbors – even those neighbors who do not share the particular religious beliefs they are trying to enforce.

As part of the BIG picture, it should be pointed-out that this story shows an unofficial move to codify the religious beliefs of one group and enforce them non-devotees of that religion. But there are also OFFICIAL moves to enshrine Sharia into the legal code of the UK. If this move succeeds untold numbers of people will have their rights revoked only because some bronze-age belief structure believes that they are unworthy of respect because of their gender, birth order, or circumstances.

But even THAT is not the most insidious part of this story! In my humble opinion, the most disturbing part of this story is the overwhelming likelihood that many of the people who are most offended by this story will be oblivious to the egregious irony they will be perpetrating by their righteous indignation.

You see it again and again in this country. Some of those who are most opposed to the theocracies of Muslim nations and the theocratic leaning of the adherents of Islamic ideals, are those who most vocally want to enshrine their Christian beliefs as the law of the land in the US.

Consider the band of thugs who want to prevent a woman from accessing healthcare that is legal where she lives. By attempting to enforce their bronze-age belief structure and having the hubris to believe that they know better than she what is best for her.

Here, I am no longer talking about the move to change which religion rules Walthamstow; I am talking about the religious right in the US. The right, by attempting to enshrine their beliefs as law, wish to force a woman to consider the zygote that she carries as a fully formed and self-aware entity just because the mysticism to which they personally subscribe says it is. They applaud the Supreme Court when it supports specific religious beliefs to which they subscribe (despite the fact that the science does not support the belief) and yet shudder at the thought that some other group may hold (and want to enforce) beliefs that they hold as strongly!

How, exactly, do the thugs that want to intimidate, marginalize, and on occasions kill the practitioners of a legal medical procedure from the thugs that wish to ban music from their neighborhoods? I suppose the only answer is that entirely depends on which antediluvian beliefs you happen to hold.

Before the inevitable flames start – I want to be clear. I am not denigrating any religion nor am I supporting any motion to ban its practice. I feel that choice is a personal one and so long as what a person wants to do is legal, they should be allowed to do it unimpeded. So please, believe and practice any religion that strikes your fancy – I support you for doing so. Holding a belief in the absence (and often in opposition to) any empirical evidence is not easy.

What I do take umbrage with is the attempt to enforce those beliefs on others against their will. This, among other important reasons, is the motivation that made the founding fathers specify a separation of church and state when defining what we wanted the US to be. That wall between church and state must be maintained as surely as the walls of your house must be maintained.

Once the wall is breached you’re likely to let in all manner of things you don’t necessarily want getting in. Just look at the case of the law in Louisiana a couple years ago that allowed state funding to go to private religious institutions. Apparently, they were surprised and scandalized to discover that there were religions to which they, personally, did not subscribe.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will remember that the state and the church are separate for a reason – at least, here in the US they are.

Don Bergquist – September 06, 2014 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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