03 April 2012

When Religious Freedom Isn't, part II

The last  post I wrote on the topic of some people's egocentric views on religious freedom focused mostly on how women's rights are being stripped away by religious nutbars in America. I feel it is time to address the concept of religious freedom in a wider context. Although I do not hold any religious beliefs myself, I support people's rights to believe in whatever they want; it's called freedom for a reason. What I do not, and cannot, support, is the idea that believing in a religion should afford you the right to impose your beliefs, religious morality or dogmatic rules on others. I think that using the notion of religious freedom as a 'get out of jail free' card for persecuting others is not only reprehensible and illegal, it is the worst form of hypocrisy. Religious freedom means that you and everybody else on the planet get to believe, or not believe, in anything they want, as long as they don't push it on others or break the law. Period. Everybody.

I'm not sure why this is such a hard concept to grasp, but apparently some people are stupid. Some people like these religious extremists in Kansas, who are trying to pass a bill which actively supports people's rights to discriminate, if it comes from a 'religious belief'. It is summed up nicely by this phrase:
"According to this bill, not only would municipalities be inhibited from protecting against anti-LGBT discrimination, but those who do discriminate would become protected and entitled to do so."
This is so wrong, I don't even know where to begin. A) Discrimination should not be 'allowable' under any circumstance. B) Discrimination should not be condoned, let alone supported by a government, especially one that claims everyone is equal. C) This is in no way, shape or form classifiable as 'religious freedom'; it is theocratic oppression, plain and simple. Let's move on.

Other stupid people include this radical religious group filmed in Luton, U.K., who seem to believe that several things are violating their religious rights, and don't seem to notice, care, or acknowledge that what they want would violate other people's rights. Participants in the 'protest' are universally unwilling to open up a
reasonable dialogue, and several state outright that they do not view the law as worthy of obeying, because it is not islamic law. Things they seem to want include:

  •  The U.K. police to never arrest a woman, even if her husband is a terrorist, & she is a valid suspect.
  •  The U.K. to operate under shariah law instead of its long-standing secular code of laws.
  • The U.K. to go to Hell (personally confusing to me, based on my knowledge of islam)
  • The U.K police to burn in Hell (see above)
  • British women to wear burkhas (okay, that was just one woman's comment, not a chanted slogan)
  • To not have to obey British laws, which they do not recognize as valid.
My main question is: Why the frak are they in the U.K. at all? If they want to live in an islamic theocracy, there are several countries to choose from. What could possibly make them think that forcing tens of millions of people to live by their radical interpretation of islamic law is in any way their religious right?

To put things in perspective, the U.K. has almost 63 million residents. Of those, 2.7 %, or about 1.7 million identify as muslim, most of whom are not extremists, and many of whom came to the U.K. to escape exactly the kind of persecution that these radicals are supporting. So, in essence, a few thousand people seem to believe that 62.8 million people's freedoms should be violated to 'protect' theirs. I'm not sure I can actually think of anything more egocentrically delusional than that.

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