"The law of liberty tends to abolish the reign of race over race, of faith over faith, of class over class." ~ Lord Acton
There can be too much influence of organised religion over civil life. The problem is not in the spirituality of religion, but in the earthly habits of the religious. My view is that, in a pluralist society, the injection of religious practice (including "faith based initiatives") into civil law constitutes a threat to liberty and democracy.
It must be understood that no one has ever elected the people (and it is people) who proclaimed religious laws.
While I value the respect for religions in their own space, and do not advance their villification, I feel that we must steadfastly uphold the principal of separation of church (I didn't say morals or values) and state if we are to aspire to live in a democratic fold. We have enough problems living in a diverse and daily smaller world of belief and custom already to take on the divisive battle of religion.
You simply cannot legislate belief, and to give any religious belief the imprimatur of civil law puts all non-believers immediately offside.
The instigation for today's rant is the following from the Sydney Morning Herald: http://smh.com.au/articles/2005/08/19/1124435144954.html
"It's not just a book of revelation and inspiration; it's a book of legislation," he said. Among these ... "laws" was capital punishment for offences including adultery, homosexuality, rape, child molestation, bestiality and murder.
"This is God's law, but the execution of those laws has to be by a government apparatus," he said.
And we also revisit the guy with the spiritual teapot in this article: http://smh.com.au/articles/2005/08/19/1124435141730.html You might remember him from a prior post. http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/08/religious-police.html
"In a country where freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution, the Sky Kingdom followers are discovering there is no freedom to reject or reinterpret Islam.
Ayah Pin, born a Muslim, has led the small multi-faith Sky Kingdom sect for 30 years, and claims to have 1000 followers in Malaysia and 10,000 abroad. He has been imprisoned for apostasy, the crime of rejecting the fundamental beliefs of Islam."
"...Malaysian lawyers refused to defend [Pin's followers] fearing a backlash from conservative Muslims and authorities, officials said." http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11905
For further reading consider: http://pewforum.org/faith-based-initiatives/
Labels: Politics of religion