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On Minority Rights and on Beliefs

by Katrin Sat Feb 1st, 2014 at 04:33:31 PM EST

There seems to be some confusion about the term minority rights. It is used for the rights of national or ethnic minorities. In Europe these only exist for recognised minorities, so nation states largely are free to decide on their own if (and to which groups) they want to concede minority rights. Gives a new meaning to the term 'rights'... In the case of national or ethnic minorities there are some collective rights: without some rights to language and culture the group's existence as a group would be at risk. Secondly, the term is used for the protection of persons against discrimination for their race, religion, etc. Important difference: this protection starts with the individual. There is even a third use: the rights of the opposition in a parliamentary system, especially a weak one as currently in Germany, are sometimes formulated in terms of "minority rights". I wonder how much this confusion contributes to the fear minority rights apparently cause. There are widespread fears of a minority having more influence than their size would suggest, and this fantasised influence is damaging society as a whole. It doesn't matter much which minority we are talking about, because enmity of different groups is related anyway.

We tend to think that these fears and prejudices are the playground of the right wing, but this is not true as surveys taken before and after the economic: Islamophobia on the right wing is already high and stagnating, it increases in the middle and in the left.
http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/ikg/projekte/GMF/AI.html


There are some recurrent topics in debates on the human rights of minorities, and in our discussion we clashed over Muslim women's veils and headscarves, immigrants not assimilating, and religious freedom. In other words, human rights as specified in the ECHR: the rights a majority in a democracy cannot take away from us--much to the anger of the right wing and how many more besides them?

I won't attempt to sum up the thread objectively, because I am absolutely not inclined to be objective: This is about human rights. The human rights of the most vulnerable among us, and then of all of us, and soon we will need these rights badly. How anyone can call it progressive to abolish any of our human rights is beyond me. There are these intentions though.

First, the veil or headscarf. For women who choose to wear it, it may be an expression of their religious feeling. Compliance with what their religion demands. Often it is simply tradition, and leaving the house without a headscarf is simply and uncomplicatedly unthinkable. The act of choosing a scarf, whose patterns and colours can be a statement on the wearer's personal circumstances like marital status and even her mood, can become a point in daily routine that a person values. The last thing these women need is forcible liberation.

The movement to ban women from choosing their own clothes has very recognisable roots in colonialism.

Katharine Viner: Feminism as imperialism | World news | The Guardian

The classic example of such a coloniser was Lord Cromer, British consul general in Egypt from 1883 to 1907, as described in Leila Ahmed's seminal Women and Gender in Islam. Cromer was convinced of the inferiority of Islamic religion and society, and had many critical things to say on the "mind of the Oriental". But his condemnation was most thunderous on the subject of how Islam treated women. It was Islam's degradation of women, its insistence on veiling and seclusion, which was the "fatal obstacle" to the Egyptian's "attainment of that elevation of thought and character which should accompany the introduction of Western civilisation," he said. The Egyptians should be "persuaded or forced" to become "civilised" by disposing of the veil.

And what did this forward-thinking, feminist-sounding veil-burner do when he got home to Britain? He founded and presided over the Men's League for Opposing Women's Suffrage, which tried, by any means possible, to stop women getting the vote.

France and the veil - the dark side of the law | openDemocracy

During the Algerian war, a ceremony where women took off their veils was even staged by the French occupier to show they were liberating Algerian women." The veil, Ramdani adds, wasn't considered a problem when women - some of them veiled - joined their husbands who had emigrated to France to work in the 1960's and the 70's. "This generation was a silent one," she says. "They would work and keep their mouth shut. It was only after the descendants of immigrants marched against racism and stood up for their rights in the 1980's, that problems appeared." Among the new generation that had grown up in France but was still not perceived as French, many started questioning what being Arab meant - and some of them looked for answers in religion, says Ramdani.

The attempts to force Muslim women in Europe out of their clothes--a form of forced nudity--remind me of rape as a weapon of war: the junction of ethnic and gender humiliation, the "use" of women's bodies in the name of nation. This is why I show a visceral reaction when I see bans on whatever piece of women's clothing. The war on The Other in the first place targets women and it is at best naïve to claim one only participates in order to free women who they say wouldn't free themselves. At least not in the prescribed way and to the normed end state.

So while there is sexism showing in the bans on veils and headscarves, and anti-religion especially anti-Muslim, it can't be separated from plain racism and xenophobia. This is where they all merge. Women's clothes is one item in the demand that immigrants have to adopt "our culture", whatever that is. I am shocked that these ideas find sympathy on ET, and that I have to deal with people who don't like to see veils, because they interpret the veil in their own way and think it a a statement on society they don't agree with AND they think their opinion has to trump the woman's. Or with people who issue demands that immigrants to the UK have to make sure their children learn English, because otherwise the job of teachers becomes harder. Sure, it is the immigrants' fault if we can't pay enough teachers. There are TWO official languages in the UK, not only one, by the way. But it's a very nice way to ethnicise what in reality is a social problem. nobody, including immigrant parents, denies that having a good command of English is important in the UK. Despite this insight there will always for a variety of reasons be some children whose English isn't good enough when they start school and they will need some extra help, not normation and blame. Is all this really new to ET'ers? I thought it was common knowledge how the "debate" of immigration and integration is in reality the ethnisation of social conflict, a strategy to prevent solidarity.

I firmly believe in justice and equal rights of all humans. I am using "believe" with a reason: there is core belief underlying all political convictions. Our (rational) political choices have a foundation in such sets of beliefs. Making it a matter of principle to stand with the vulnerable, to defend human rights, to fight for justice is NOT equal to playing games in the woodlands.

JakeS:

You of course have a right to practice a religion. You also have a right to go to the local woodlands and LARP on the weekends.

When those two rights have roughly the same status, you have religious freedom.

When "but my religion says" is an argument that carries more weight than "but the rules of our LARP are," then you have religious privilege.

Is that consensus here, that our beliefs and ethical norms carry the same weight than the rules of games? Or is that only the case when these beliefs are informed by religion? Do ET'ers demand an atheist privilege?

Display:
I would argue that the fight against ethnisation of social conflict is ill served by attempting to counterbalance white, male and class privilege with a countervailing religious privilege.

It's unlikely to work, and if it does work then you have accomplished only an expansion of the group of privileged to include those who happen to read from a recognized hymn sheet.

I'm not OK with empowering a priest caste For The Greater Good. Particularly when there are perfectly excellent arguments for (resp. against) all the policies you want to use religious privilege to bolster or oppose: You could have written out all references to religion in this diary and still have a perfectly sound argument. And it would have been a universal and inclusive argument, instead of a segregationist one.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 03:24:40 AM EST
Jake, I am not arguing "religious privilege". I am not arguing "empowering a priest caste", either. What makes you think I am?
by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 07:33:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er - actually you are. All of your arguments are about the 'rights' of religious people not to follow the same rules or meet the same social expectations as non-religious people.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 08:20:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where have I ever demanded that? All I do is demand that religious people--or adherents of particular religions--aren't stripped of rights everyone else enjoys.
by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 09:23:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless the stripping is done by the religions themselves - for example, by the indoctrination and brainwashing of children before they have any ability to think critically or question what they're being told.

Which, as it happens, is pretty much the only way religions propagate themselves.

Perhaps I'm unusual in this, but I consider indoctrinating children for political, social, and financial gain an odd definition of personal freedom.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 10:25:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't you shifting your argument a bit too abruptly? Here is the claim you started with:

ThatBritGuy:

All of your arguments are about the 'rights' of religious people not to follow the same rules or meet the same social expectations as non-religious people.

You are unable to back up that I ever argued that, let alone that it was "all of my argument". So instead of apologising for your unfounded accusation you switch to the  

ThatBritGuy:

indoctrinating children for political, social, and financial gain

What on earth are you talking about and how is a ban on veils a remedy against the indoctrination of children or political, social, or financial gain?

You are obviously freely fantasising about my posts. And that from the guy who accused me of trolling. Incredible.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 10:47:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say "my religion requires X, therefore I am permitted to do X," then you are claiming a special status for your religion that you are not extending to people who do not share your religion. When you say "X is a human right that everyone enjoys, so you don't get to ban it just because it happens to have religious significance," then you are claiming a universal human right.

This is the key point of difference between "my religion requires me to wear a veil" and "I have a right to decide what and how much of my body to clothe," and the reason the former argument ruffles feathers even though the conclusion "I get to wear a veil if I damn well want to" is the same.

There are two reasons this distinction is important. The first is that turning universal rights into privileges of particular interest groups is anti-solidarity at its worst.

Solidarity is about strength through unity: "I have your back, you have my back." That naturally means that the strong should have the weak's back more often than the weak should have the strong's back, for the obvious reason that the strong more often has something to contribute and the weak more often has need of aid.

But solidarity is not charity, it is not unconditional, it is not noblesse oblige. If someone's attitude is "you must support me in getting mine, and once I have mine you can feel free to fuck off," then I'm perfectly willing to throw him (or her) under the bus. And that is precisely the attitude on display whenever someone says "you must respect my religious privilege to do A, but I will not support your right to do Ã."

I will support our rights. But I don't give two shits about your privileges.

The second reason is that it serves to set fair and reasonable circumscriptions to those rights. For instance, I do not care how much your religion requires it, you do not get to block the metro doors during rush hour peddling the Watchtower or giving a Hare Krishna song-and-dance number. That makes you an asshole who deliberately obstructs traffic, and assholes who deliberately obstruct traffic get removed from the premises.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 03:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is becoming tedious. How much longer will you attack and refute what I happened to not say?
JakeS:
When you say "my religion requires X, therefore I am permitted to do X,"
 

If I had ever said such a thing, I would remember. It is something that comes out of your brain, not mine. Weird behaviour. Can you explain why you are doing that?

JakeS:

This is the key point of difference between "my religion requires me to wear a veil" and "I have a right to decide what and how much of my body to clothe,"

And have you seen what I have written in the diary above? What else have I argued? But there is authoritarianism all over Europe banning women to choose their clothes, because white men fantasise veils were a symbol of oppression, or blahblah.

JakeS:

And that is precisely the attitude on display whenever someone says "you must respect my religious privilege to do A, but I will not support your right to do Ã."

Nice strawman: nobody says so.

JakeS:

I will support our rights. But I don't give two shits about your privileges

That shows how different our attitudes on shared humanity are. I would even support your rights. Just to teach the authoritarians a lesson about human rights. But I will fight your privileges.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 04:20:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you say "my religion requires X, therefore I am permitted to do X,"

If I had ever said such a thing, I would remember.

Shall I go dig out quotes where you defend the right to religious practice specifically because it is religious practice (and not because it is a form of behavior that is generally permissible in any free society)? Shall I go dig out the places where you argue that religious groups must have the right to self-define what constitutes harassment against them (and then go and find you examples of where mainline Catholics and Creationists self-define "not able to spew vile lies in public schools" as harassment, just to drive the point home)? Shall I go find the posts where you argue that religious groups have a right to ban behavior which is generally accepted in any free society just because it bothers their sense of sacrilege?

Because we can play that game if you want.

And have you seen what I have written in the diary above? What else have I argued?

You have argued that religion has something to do with that question.

When you segue seamlessly from arguing that veil-bans are oppressive and racist (which they are) into special pleading for religious idiosyncrasies to have a higher status than secular hobbies (which they shouldn't), what else are we supposed to conclude? That you just felt like tacking on a complete non sequitur onto your diary at the point where stylistic convention normally has a conclusion?

When you fly off the handle any time someone calls bullshit on people saying "I must be allowed to express my religion," full stop, no qualifications, what am I supposed to believe that you are arguing, other than "people must be free to express their religion," full stop, no qualifications?

And that is precisely the attitude on display whenever someone says "you must respect my religious privilege to do A, but I will not support your right to do Ã."

Nice strawman: nobody says so.

Actually, we had a BBC clip with a deranged fundie fruitcake saying precisely that not so very long ago. You objected quite strenuously to people who pointed out that she was insane, and never took issue with the fact that she was saying precisely what you now claim to not support.

If we are supposed to grant you that opposition to allowing some people to do something not generally permitted solely on the grounds that it is their religious practice (e.g. religious exemptions from vaccination programs or general education) is implicit in every post you make, will you also grant me that opposition to denying religious people the right to something solely because it is a religious symbol or ritual is implicit in every post I make?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 05:41:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, go and dig. You won't find any quotes where I said what you put into my mouth. As I said: I would remember. The whole thing that you put into my mouth there is so alien to anything I said (and completely unrelated to any of the fields where people are not permitted to do what their religion requires).

JakeS:

When you segue seamlessly from arguing that veil-bans are oppressive and racist (which they are) into special pleading for religious idiosyncrasies to have a higher status than secular hobbies (which they shouldn't), what else are we supposed to conclude?

Your creativity in finding derogatory terms when talking about religion gets into the way of transporting meaning. I understand you have to set your priorities. What is "religious idiosyncrasies" meant to be?

Here is from my diary: I firmly believe in justice and equal rights of all humans. I am using "believe" with a reason: there is core belief underlying all political convictions. Our (rational) political choices have a foundation in such sets of beliefs. Making it a matter of principle to stand with the vulnerable, to defend human rights, to fight for justice is NOT equal to playing games in the woodlands.

Are you talking about the ethics that underlie a persons decisions, or the ways to arrive at these ethics? They are really the same for you as the rules of a fucking game? Well, not for me.

JakeS:

Actually, we had a BBC clip with a deranged fundie fruitcake saying precisely that not so very long ago. You objected quite strenuously to people who pointed out that she was insane, and never took issue with the fact that she was saying precisely what you now claim to not support

Nope. I said that the insinuation that the guy's right to wear clothes of his choice was in any danger was idiotic, and that it was irrelevant if the woman was defending her freedom or her religion or whatever: what is in danger is the rights of her minority, especially of women. It doesn't matter if she is insane (but the BBC wouldn't have invited her if she had been likely to raise only reasonable stuff): the question if she would grant the guy freedom if she had to decide on it in exchange for the freedom to wear a veil is outrageous.  

It's the first time that I hear of the existence of "religious exemptions from vaccination programs". I have never expressed any sympathy for religious or other exemptions from general education, in the contrary. What are you talking about then? Vaccinations are voluntary, only smallpox used to be compulsory. There are some parents who don't want their children to be vaccinated. I find that stupid of them, even dangerous, but they are free to do so. It's the law. Do you want the law altered? It might be a good idea. What has that to do with religion?

JakeS:

will you also grant me that opposition to denying religious people the right to something solely because it is a religious symbol or ritual is implicit in every post I make?

I lost track of the negations in that question. Try again.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 06:35:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On second thoughts: stop that digging and looking backwards. You apparently misunderstood me, and that's why you misrepresent my posts. I have no intention to attack you, what I want is that you stop your attacks on me. It is false and very off-putting to be told that everyone with a religious belief belongs in the same corner as reactionary fundies with an illiberal political agenda. It has often made me think of quitting here.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 02:31:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you both missed what question the women on BBC was responding to. So did I, until someone posted a link here to a text written by the guy posing the question. (If anyone finds link, please post.)

His question refered to the specific t-shirt he was wearing, that was apparently part of a Jesus and Mo controversy. This makes the womans reply intelligable. And it also brings print into the question. Because clothes being opposed as clothes is imho a bit (but not completly) differrent from clothes as speach. For example, a t-shirt with text that is libel (or is it slander when it is not printed on paper?) can be de-facto banned without this being perceived as a ban on t-shirts as clothes.

Other cases are less clear. If I remember 90ies court cases correctly nazi uniforms are de facto banned from at least schools, if they are perceived as serious. That is if they are perceived as hate speach. They are not banned if they are for the school play, or a costume party. So they are not banned as clothes, but as speach.

I am not sure where this leaves the burka debate, guess both cases can be argued, but I think it is a distinction that should be made. And at least it makes the BBC debate a bit less weird.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:59:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
white men fantasise veils were a symbol of oppression

I think you damage your argument by not acknowledging that some women do get beat up for not wearing veils, or wear them to avoid that or social exclusion in their communities, and not acknowledging that the origin of the tradition wasn't women's free choice. The way I see burqa/veil bans, (1) you won't lift oppression by persecuting the oppressed, (2) while you will also oppress the non-oppressed, (3) all the while you put a minority under general suspicion, and (4) a lot of white male and female ban supporters are deluded about the previous points.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:09:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Completely agree with the last part. On my damaging my own argument by leaving out (for once!) the matter of coercion: I am fed up with repeating myself there. You forget: some women/girls wear pleated skirts and it is not their free choice. I don't get to hear what a symbol of oppression pleated skirts are. Funny that. Any explanation? And where is a debate to ban them? No, white men have other problems:

eurogreen:

I'm afraid I have a visceral reaction when I see a fully-veiled woman : it's as if I were seeing a slave with a neck ring and chain attached.

You see it is not about if some women do get beat up for not wearing veils, or wear them to avoid that or social exclusion in their communities, and not acknowledging that the origin of the tradition wasn't women's free choice. It is about what white men fantasise when they see a veil. No need to even let the woman speak.

And yes, I know there are male and female ban supporters. Did you read my link on white feminism?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:17:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin, I also saw the cartoon in the diary. So I wonder why you have to single out the men among those fantasising.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if women are capable of being as stupid as men--at least some women and sometimes ;)--, power still is distributed unequally. That's why.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 02:47:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - On Minority Rights and on Beliefs

Is that consensus here, that our beliefs and ethical norms carry the same weight than the rules of games?

any religion worth its salt would have nothing to lose by this.

if religion uses coercion of any kind to keep its followers in line it's a bad religion.

the fact that good people have let themselves be inveigled into it is not their fault, as their intentions may have been fine.

but when they start coercing others for whatever imagined reason to give up their natural right to think critically, the line is crossed and they are complicit in the theft of someone's soul.

headscarves are the least of it...

games like football and predator capitalism don't promise life after death, though both are de facto religions today. their headscarves are boots and jockstraps, suits and ties, all symbols with as little or much meaning as we freely care to invest in them.

both imbued with the racism you decry. me thinks these are the upriver problems that immiserate minorities more than petty conformist sartorial issues that have dogged all religions since god was young.

both also institutionalised fetishism of faulty testosterone management. (aka unthinking worship of the male principle)

power to the people, especially women (who have had the short end of the stick for centuries).

counter the thuggery of hypermasculisation directly by namimg it, hiding womens' beauty behind scarves because of its supposed uncontrollably inflammatory effects on males perpetuates this stupid myth and kowtows to it.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 09:42:03 AM EST
On coercion we agree. It is not true that practising a religion is incompatible with thinking critically, or that critical thinking thrives where practising religion is banned.

melo:

counter the thuggery of hypermasculisation directly by namimg it, hiding womens' beauty behind scarves because of its supposed uncontrollably inflammatory effects on males perpetuates this stupid myth and kowtows to it

That's not the reason for scarves (or for clothes generally). More importantly, I am not talking about somebody [men or a male dominated society, probably] hiding women's beauty. I am talking about women choosing veils or scarves. Apparently you don't like admitting that women can choose them.

Even if you believe that women would not choose them without some pressure, well, why is that pressure worse than pressure to wear other clothes? High heels? I was not allowed to wear trousers when I was a child, and I wanted Jeans. I wonder why the people who ostensibly care so much about the rights of girls make such a fuss about headscarves, not skirts...

by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 11:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
It is not true that practising a religion is incompatible with thinking critically, or that critical thinking thrives where practising religion is banned.

i assume this reply is your own opinion, as i have averred neither of those claims.

personally i have met enough stupid atheists to make me wish religion did a better job of creating better codes of conduct, and enough intelligent religious people to make me wonder why religions are not more intelligent about whom they embrace and why.

the more male-dominated religions oppress women, the less i respect them.

i have met enough intelligent atheists to believe people can be born without a religious impulse and be equally admirable for it, no more, no less.

and i have met enough stupid religious folks to make me wish why mankind invented religions in the first place.

fundamentally i support your position that the state has no right to ban headscarves, but still haven't decided whether there is a case to be made for banning the burkha, still leaning to letting it be and looking to learn from this discussion more points of view to evaluate.

realistically as soon as we decided to make nudity illegal we have been arguing ever since how much real estate a bikini/burkha has to cover to remain 'decent'.

on the great scale of issues we face as a species i feel it ranks pretty low, and am somewhat surprised that you keep hammering away at it like you do.

your right and privilege...

it sure would be nice if we trusted each others' common sense so not to make any sartorial rules at all, (like the rest of the animal kingdom) though at this present evolutionary rate that is probably a millenium away still. :(

though nudism is more popular in germany than anywhere else in europe, i've heard say...

(they should have let you wear jeans, btw!)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
i assume this reply is your own opinion, as i have averred neither of those claims.

Actually it is in reply to this:
melo:
but when they start coercing others for whatever imagined reason to give up their natural right to think critically, the line is crossed and they are complicit in the theft of someone's soul.

melo:

but still haven't decided whether there is a case to be made for banning the burkha,

Why on earth? To save women or girls from being coerced? Ban coercion (it is banned). To save them from ordinary non-criminal pressure? Ban pleated skirts. Why are girls forces to wear veils more worthy of liberation than girls being forced to wear skirts?

By the way, nudity isn't illegal in Germany. We aren't naked all the time, though, so there are some rules of conformity at work beyond outright laws. I guess that without the fuss about veil bans only half of them would be worn.

melo:

(they should have let you wear jeans, btw!)

Oh well. Unintentionally they did a lot for my fighting spirit to grow. :)

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:54:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Actually it is in reply to this:
melo:
but when they start coercing others for whatever imagined reason to give up their natural right to think critically, the line is crossed and they are complicit in the theft of someone's soul.

saying that is not the same as:

Katrin:

It is not true that practising a religion is incompatible with thinking critically,

you have twisted what i said into an absolute statement while mine was relative.

a habit that subtracts clarity from a discussion.

a religion that allows people to come freely to their own conclusions about said religion's tenets is a 'white crow' event, would you agree?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 01:10:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I would not agree with that. And I still find remarkable that "but when they start coercing others for whatever imagined reason to give up their natural right to think critically" is what springs to your mind in a debate of religious freedom.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 02:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
actually i was thinking about every time a kid is told to 'believe' even when his mind questions the canonised view, such as do animals have souls for example.

or that if allah had wanted women to cover their hair he would have had them born veiled.

or why it was ok for jesus to kick the moneylenders off the temple steps but we have to treat banksters with kid gloves.

or that liberation theology perhaps wasn't a commie plot.

etc...

that you find it remarkable is what i find remarkable!

religion should encourage love, not be used to hold women back in the middle ages.

i am sure we can agree on that.

much more important than a piece of cloth perhaps.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
actually i was thinking about every time a kid is told to 'believe' even when his mind questions the canonised view, such as do animals have souls for example

Well, I don't do "canonised view". I am searching my memory, but I can't think of any people who would treat children like that, and I guess if they did, it would have the opposite result from what they intended. It is very disturbing to see that this is the default religious education for you.

melo:

religion should encourage love, not be used to hold women back in the middle ages.

i am sure we can agree on that

Yes, indeed.

melo:

much more important than a piece of cloth perhaps

Definitely. BUT: as important as the fight against the injustice of taking a woman's freedom to choose whatever cloth she wants.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
here's the crazy part... i agree with you, jake, migeru, tbg, dodo, eurogreen and everyone who has contributed valid opinions in this thread.

yet i don't sense any common ground that's well articulated. put the segments together and there's a whole orange of progressivism here.

the need for aggression mystifies me...  

i am grateful to you and the commenters for the attention to details i had not thought of, but we need unity to be effective, and hope we realise all these opinions can meet in the middle quite unpolemically if we remember what our common goals are, instead of playing into the PTB's hands by harping on our differences.

it seems that the mere mention of religion gets too many hackles up to stay civil, and that's not only sad but unnecessary, as without diversity-in-unity we fail against the wingnut idiocracy, every time.

their solidarity unites fine under 'greed-for-profit'... in hatred of minorities and the fomentation of division between us.

gays, jews, rom, women, immigrants, believers. why is it so easy to set us at each others' throats?

ET is a magnificent microcosm.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
it seems that the mere mention of religion gets too many hackles up to stay civil, and that's not only sad but unnecessary, as without diversity-in-unity we fail against the wingnut idiocracy, every time.

Good point and pointed observation. I think it is to a large extent about identity (and as I have argued previously, a heavier part of identity then hobbies, but lighter then race or gender). And as identities are largely defined by their opposite (can't have left without right, can't have germans without the french) the self-identification as anything on the religious scale demands a definition of the other. And there is where it gets tricky, because one groups definition of the other rarely matches that groups definition of itself.

Me, I have grown up in a non-religious household in a pretty non-religious society. I was tought the christian myths, but there was no problem with me accepting them as just stories. School was sometimes in church (good place for singing), but it was like being in a museum or other odd, old place. I have never been forced into performing religious rituals, though I could if I wanted. I was however brought up in beliving that you don't mock the religious kids. (Because you don't mock the other kids. (Because mom said so.))

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
It is very disturbing to see that this is the default religious education for you.

ha, that's the tip of the iceberg. what's far more disturbing is seeing chaplains preparing soldiers to get ready to 'do their duty' on the battlefield, or seeing how much suffering the catholics cause with their blockheaded refusal to acknowledge birth control, condemning women to AIDS and millions to misery.

add the centuries of false god-endorsed crusades and inquisitions and surely it becomes obvious why there are so many who come out in hives at the very idea of religion.

and thankfully a few who acknowledge how important the different churches have been in the anti-nuke movement, amongst other important issues like racial equality.

in the face of what we are staring down right now we need everyone we can get pulling for a better world, the more the merrier. it makes baby jesus cry to see how much friction and dissent are hardwired into our quarrelsome DNA.

i know because i deal with it in my own self every day, and others on this blog have seen me act out around religious/spiritual issues, so i am preaching above all to myself here!

...actually i hope i am not preaching at all, just pointing out the obvious.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of any people who would treat children like that

Unfortunately, most religious people I knew were like that (and I emphasize I mean 'normal' people; I had very little to do with pastors and priests). Stressing that humans have souls while other animals lack them was a particular point of confrontation I remember from childhood.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 07:31:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My own anti-epiphany happened in my first year at school when the - really quite avuncular, kindly and civilised - teacher assured us with a straight face that 'Thou shalt not kill' didn't apply if god had ordered you to defend your country.

I'm beginning to wonder what kind of religious ghetto Katrin lives in, because it so clearly has almost nothing in common with the majority experience of religion.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:26:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "religious ghetto" is the Lutheran Church. As mainstream as you can get here. I am not saying that the intolerant or overzealous weren't there somewhere--but in my experience they aren't dominant to the exclusion of diversity of views or the abuse of children's independence of thought. All differences and conflicts considered: it is no way like what you describe as your experience.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 10:13:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I am allowed to start yet another sidetrack: do you have an explanation for the fact that the German Lutheran Church is losing (tax-paying) members even faster than the Catholics? This was always a mystery to me: IMHO the main reason for the dwindling of the Catholics in almost all Catholic-majority areas of Europe is the ugliness and viciousness of the clergy, while the German Lutheran clergy is quite the opposite. The only explanation I could come up with was that modern German Lutheranism makes ditching religion too easy by voiding all the compulsion (including the threat of social expulsion). That is, with only a little exaggeration: it became too tolerant to sustain itself.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that is it. You really have no disadvantage for not being a member.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:35:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same with Church of Sweden. Pretty much all publicity is bad publicity for them as it reminds people to leave. They had a campaign for people to vote in the Church election which reached many, prompting people to leave. Not that the campaign was bad or that there was not voting options for every taste, but just by reminding people that they are members.

Similar with the Swedish royalties. As long as they just do some ritual ribbon cutting they are popular, but when they do stuff that puts them in the spotlight - even positive things like weddings or kids - their popularity goes down as people are reminded of what a strange institution it is.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Voting rights (but most people don't vote anyway), and of the two godparents of a child at least one must be a member (but one is enought), and in order to get married in church one of the partners must be a church member (but you don't marry that often in your life). I think that's it with the list of disadvantages.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 05:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now now. I already wrote about this in the other sub-threads. She comes from the "ghetto" of northern Germany, where mostly Lutheran and to a great part grass-roots Christian groups participated in underground movements against the Third Reich, more recently participated heavily in the peace and anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s and 1980s, also played a major role in East German pro-democracy protests before Reunification, still form a major part of protests against neo-Nazi gatherings (often alongside communists), and are a loud voice on the side of refugees against xenophobes. The acrimony in the debate in this diary is because you in Britain and France and elsewhere have no local experience of such Christian public activism and are ignorant of it elsewhere (beyond Germany, I recall some similar examples in Italy and the USA), while Katrin seems ignorant of the fact that this type of Christian activism is not that typical elsewhere in Europe.

To add another regional flavour: in my region, there was also some contribution to pro-democracy movements around 1989 (more from the Catholic Church in Poland and more from small Protestant groups in Hungary for example), but since then, religion-based political activism is mostly several times uglier than in France, and even the social activism – that is, charity work, mostly with the homeless – doesn't go along with a social agenda but a didain for those helped. (I know Calvinist charity workers who took an overseas holiday on charity money and consider the needy whom they help sinners.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For Italy, see cattocomunismo.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for welcome context, DoDo.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 06:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He could have just told you that it was a mistranslation, and that it really should be something like "Thou shalt not commit manslaughter". And there are plenty of verses telling you the opposite (see Psalm 137:9 for one of the most notorious).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:48:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The freedom to practice discriminatory religious beliefs is gradually having more traction, alas.

Here is a recent Lithuanian interview with a catholic scholar:
Catholics today show respect for democracy,
but democrats do not show respect for Catholicism

The whole political discourse stands on the same footing as a religion thus. The interviewed discusses mostly "Political Liberalism" of John Rawls, denying that Rawls required religious people to speak the language of public reason (only a common a language to everyone), and that Rawls did not understand the religious  mystical experience. That mystical experience cannot be purged from the public life... even to no-believers?

What does this mystical element mean politically?

Politically, it means nothing, but only today and to atheists and agnostics...

Only today?... I guess, political domination must be a mystical experience indeed.  

Other remarkable quotes, shortly:

We can forget Habermas, just as Voltaire is forgotten...

Differently than constitutional rights, God's blessing does not extend to everyone...

Political liberalism relies on influential cultural allies - science, economics, law, public administration...

Devil's dismissal implies strong [dangerous] optimism that people can destroy evil themselves and create sweeping harmony...

Mutual understanding [between believers and non-believers] ends at some point... That's a tragic element of this world...

Mystically experienced God becomes a source of social order...

Religion is the last serious authority shelter...

Will recent social history in Eastern Europe remain just as a scantly acknowledged memory, reminiscent to this:

by das monde on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 12:40:42 PM EST
das monde:
The freedom to practice discriminatory religious beliefs is gradually having more traction, alas

Is there such a thing as a "freedom to practice discriminatory beliefs"? I am not sure that discrimination by religious people is increasing or not (but it is there, of course). So is discrimination by non-religious people, and actually I don't see that it makes much sense to fight the practice of religion instead of fighting discrimination.

The Kabul photos are a nice reminder of how the Cold War was fought. Although, to be fair, the many freedoms for Afghan women of the time of the Soviet backed era only existed in Kabul, never in the countryside.

Your point seems to be that religion has to lead to discrimination and oppression. It can be used for that. It can be used for opposition against oppression, too. Bans on religious practice on the other hand can only be discriminatory and oppressive, especially since the ban hits the religion of a despised and vulnerable minority, and there mainly the women.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 04:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The original article behind Das Monde's link provides some interesting talking points. It bemoans a perceived loss of religious privilege :

The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life?

I believe that religious liberty is mean­ingless if religious subcultures do not have the right to practise and preach according to their beliefs. These views - for example, on abortion, adoption, divorce, marriage, promiscuity and euthanasia - may be unfashionable. They certainly will strike many liberal-minded outsiders as harsh, impractical, outmoded, and irrelevant.

But that is not the point. Adherents of these beliefs should not face life-ruining disadvantages. They should not have to close their businesses, as happened to the Christian couple who said only married heterosexual couples could stay at their bed and breakfast. They should not lose their jobs, which was the case of the registrar who refused to marry gays.

I find these two examples clearcut : no, people should not be allowed exceptions to anti-discrimination laws based on their religious beliefs. Neither in business (I once turned down a job staffing a London bed-and-breakfast place because the owner wanted someone who would turn away English, Irish and Arab clients), nor in civil service.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:54:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
The original article behind Das Monde's link provides some interesting talking points.

It provides the talking point that homophobia and illiberalism had something to do with religion and religiously informed ethics. It is remarkably quiet about the contribution of the religious to the peace movement, to environmentalism, to civil rights movements, and many more progressive movements. What is interesting in so defamatory talking points? That they reiterate your own prejudice?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It provides the talking point that homophobia and illiberalism had something to do with religion and religiously informed ethics.
That's nonsense, they have to do with authoritarian personality, which correlates with religiosity but was also present in irreligious but authoritarian "real existing socialism".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't get me started on the slave traders who named their slave transport ships "Nossa Senhora da Esperança" and "Le Contrat Social" and "Liberté".
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:37:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. As usual Katrin simply has no answer to the empirically observable point that religious morality means whatever some group of followers want it to mean.

If you want to hate on gays - god agrees with you. If you want to accept gays into the church - oh, look, god also agrees with you.

If you happen to be gay - well, you can probably guess.

(No wonder the Vatican is so confused.)

Given this is true, debates about oppression over choice of clothing are meaningless.

The whole point of religion is rhetorical - it's simply a ploy to make some argument about some moral position stickier and more persuasive.

And that's exactly why religions should be purely a private affair, and not a political or social one - because the mere act of claiming supernatural authority is inherently abusive and oppressive, irrespective of the position being argued.

When you do this you can no longer have a debate among human equals, because one party is claiming that their point of view is super-human, and you, as a mere human, have no valid opinion on it. (Who are you to argue with god, or the markets?)

Not only is this clearly nonsense, it's corrosive and poisonous nonsense, and an easy breeding ground for authoritarian thinking - which, by a remarkable coincidence, is something religions seem to gravitate to with depressing predictability.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Exactly. As usual Katrin simply has no answer to the empirically observable point that religious morality means whatever some group of followers want it to mean.

If you want to hate on gays - god agrees with you. If you want to accept gays into the church - oh, look, god also agrees with you.

Positions of the churches evolve. Churches have that in common with parties, trade unions, the law, etc., even with most individuals. If you don't like that, Stalinism might be the answer.

ThatBritGuy:

When you do this you can no longer have a debate among human equals, because one party is claiming that their point of view is super-human, and you, as a mere human, have no valid opinion on it. (Who are you to argue with god, or the markets?)

Er, you have just complained that churches' positions on gay marriage and the like evolve, sometimes in very very fierce debates. Now you complain of the opposite. Can't make up your mind, eh?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, well, those very fierce debates are still based on claims of super-human positions, no? You feel something is right, and to support it, you for example look for passages in the Bible that can be interpreted along the lines of your view, or look to re-interpret passages used by reactionaries.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 07:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Positions of the churches evolve.

So much for revealed wisdom, eh?

Can't make up your mind, eh?

No, I'm perfectly happy with the idea that religion is the intellectual, philosophical, emotional and spiritual equivalent of genital mutilation, and that if you're looking for a consistently positive moral position, religion is the last place you're going to find one.

But then you've just agreed to that last point yourself, so I have no idea why we're even debating the social value of arbitrary inconsistent ethics that pretend to be divinely revealed.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:35:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. If you look for a ready made ethics that you can be spoon fed with without an effort of your own, Christian ethics must be disappointing for you. If you look for a framework or ethical foundation that must be filled with life, that's more what I mean. It adds one angle more to left and emancipatory politics. I have absolutely no missionary zeal, if that is what you are afraid of, and what makes you aggressive. I just don't see why ET must be a place that excludes positions of progressive politics with a religious background and treats all religion as reactionary.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 10:38:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You perhaps didn't realise that I was talking about (and linking, and quoting) the original article (the article linked by Das Monde was a commentary on that article).

Did you read it? I found it more interesting than the meta-commentary. Here is a woman who can be presumed to be progressive, at least on some issues (she is a former deputy editor of the New Statesman), who is claiming that illegal manifestations of homophobia and illiberalism are justified and respectable when backed by religious belief. I thought you might have an opinion on that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:18:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
she is a former deputy editor of the New Statesman

But currently writes for The Telegraph.....

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I read it and I am referring to the same article.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you weren't.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:56:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What madness is this? Now you tell me what I have read? What next?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:48:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I charitably assumed that you weren't commenting the article I quoted, because your post made absolutely no sense in that context.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:58:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article claims that homophobia was prescribed by Christianity and that it was a violation of religious freedom to force people who run a hotel not to discriminate against gays. It transports the same image of religion that you (from a different angle) have too. This attitude allows you to project all sorts of illiberalism on religion. Unfortunately the premise the author started with is wrong, and there goes your argument.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:45:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the premise the author started with is wrong

This would be a No True Scotsman argument. I'd say her version of Christianity is different from your religion. You protest being put in the same corner with discriminating religionists, but it's the other extreme to claim that the religion of those religionists whose views you dislike isn't a proper religion (but merely the mis-interpretation of a proper religion).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not saying it is not "proper religion". I am saying that there are two opinions inside religion, and that both religious right-wingers and atheist leftists deny that.  
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:38:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm quite aware that many religions have diversity of opinion. I have had many left-wing Christian friends, and left-wing Moslem friends too.

Personally, I grew up with religious diversity, and intuitively accept it as the norm : in New Zealand, all of the British Protestant denominations, plus catholicism, were represented, with Anglicanism being the mainstream but by no means hegemonic (other than a handful of Jews, I knew no non-Christians until Buddhism, Baha'i, Hari Krishna and other such hippy shit became fashionable in the 70s). It was undoubtedly a "Christian" nation, but not dogmatically so.

For my own part, I was brought up without religious indoctrination from my parents, which led to me being defined by others, to my amusement, as an "atheist".

As an adult, I discovered that most countries have a hegemonic religion with centralised doctrine that has, or has recently had, strong influence over professed moral standards and laws. This is unconscionable to me, and my considered conclusion is that it is necessary to put a muzzle on religious influence in the public sphere.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 04:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently you are seeing how successful that exclusionary policy was in France.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:02:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm no cheerleader for the Jacobin state. It strikes me as not quite having broken free of the undercurrent of militarism, authoritarianism and paranoia that most successful revolutionary movements bring with them when they seize power. But facts must be respected: It does have a better democratic record than most. Including the German tradition of Christian Democrats.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:39:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're not actually denying it's a religious point of view?

Well - that's progress, I guess.

Now, for extra credit, tell us which religious point of view is more common - the repressive one, or the liberal one?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:16:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not say "religious point of view". I said "two opinions inside religion". What is unclear in my words? There is a fundamental change going on in our societies how partnerships and families are to be defined. This is happening inside the churches too, of course. What is surprising in that? In urban centres this development has progressed farther, in rural areas the development is slower. Does that really surprise you?

And what do you think is the position of the majority in our societies? The more liberal or the more repressive one?

And that's the time where several of you agreed to abolish the human rights of Muslim women, because you are no Muslim women and you are so very sure that your rights will survive.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:13:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not say "religious point of view". I said "two opinions inside religion". What is unclear in my words?

Er - what? So there are two religious points of view instead of one? Or five? Or fifteen million?

And that changes the argument how?

you are so very sure that your rights will survive.

It's precisely because I'd like some vestige of my remaining rights to survive that I want to keep authoritarianisms of all kinds as far away from politics as possible.

Because when that doesn't happen, that always works out so well for everyone.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Now, for extra credit, tell us which religious point of view is more common - the repressive one, or the liberal one?

The Swedish church (formerly state-church, now formally independent but very much dominant) has at least the last ten years been slightly less liberal on social issues then the state and a fair bit more socialistic on economic isues. The new top dog is even female, which the state has not for almost 300 years.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:40:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But would this have happened if the state hadn't been (somewhat) progressive to start with?

I'm finding it hard to think of any situation from history where an established church has acted progressively in opposition to the state without prior prompting from secular philosophies.

There have been occasional contributions from radical dissenters (e.g. Quaker abolitionists). But even then, there's state precedence - in that instance from Spanish law in the 16th century.

 

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 01:25:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find Katrin's example, the establishment of the legal status of conscientious objector, also had a lot to do with Quakers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is also Liberation Theology. You may say that it was inspired by the rise of communism, but I don't think that that should deter from the point that it makes for a substantial contribution to any progressive movement in Latin America.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:09:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would argue that the current generation of Latin American left-wing movements (in Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.) owe their historical debts to the communists and anti-colonial indigenous movements. In fact, the comparative absence of Liberation Theology in their core legitimizing narratives is a quite remarkable testament to the effectiveness and viciousness with which Liberation Theology was wiped out as an effective organizing force for political emancipation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you underrate how fundamental the influence of the movement was. It is not dead. The roots are in the ground and waiting.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That remains to be seen.

But it doesn't really matter to my point: It is not an active and important part of the current left-wing renaissance in Latin America. The core legitimizing narratives of the current movements pay very little if any homage to it, and the demographics include far more indigenous movements (someone like Evo Morales is completely out of character as a figurehead for a Liberation Theology dominated political movement).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
State and church, they go together like a horse and carriage. With the Christian churches having roots in roman state power, and being power players the whole time, it is hard to come up with examples where they are relatively unaffected.

Well, for most of the 20th century smaller churches in Sweden were allied with the liberals against the privileges of the state church.

But for the Church of Sweden I think the formative thing is that it has been run for a long time as a civil service in a secular society. Church councils are elected in proportional elections with most of the main parties represented. The church has a higher percentage of visible nutters then the rest of society, but dominated by pretty reasonable people who have chosen a people-oriented career in a non-profit organisation.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:37:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How can it be defamatory? Are you claiming the author is defaming herself? Or is she defaming her religion? Shouldn't you be talking to her about it rather than to me, if you know her religion better than she does?

I am not intending to project "all sorts of illiberalism on religion"; I am content to let religious people speak for themselves, in all their diversity. And then combat the illiberal ones (see also the article I posted below).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
Shouldn't you be talking to her about it rather than to me, if you know her religion better than she does?

Well, the debate is on, of course. After all, while she claims homophobia was a Christian rule, elsewhere gays are accepted in the church. So, how come that you assume I wouldn't talk to her or her ilk?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 01:24:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the "talking points" eurogreen spoke about are the authors', in favour of her position endorsing the freedom to discriminate on a religious basis. And the quote answered your question ("Is there such a thing as a "freedom to practice discriminatory beliefs"?").

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay. But then, according to her, there still isn't the freedom to practice discriminatory beliefs. She deplores that, I don't.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:44:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Problem 1 - fifty years ago the beliefs would have been considered mundane and self-evident, and not discriminatory at all.

What do you think is the modern equivalent - the beliefs that religious type consider self-evident today, but will be seen to be discriminatory after another fifty years of progress?

Problem 2 - to atheists, the forced use of public prayer in primary schools in the UK is discriminatory, especially if you have children and don't want them indoctrinated with religion.

Do you consider that discriminatory too? If not, why not?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:21:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm quite shocked to learn that the UK still has compulsory prayer in primary schools! Yes, that is discriminatory.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:50:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And as I, and many others happily attest, the way x-tianism is used in schools is one of the main drivers of atheism in the UK.

Observance is presented as ritual devoid of content, the educational aspect of classroom "religious education" ended up unavoidably as an examination of the multitude of contradictions and obvious fabrications within the smorgasbord of myths and ideologies present in the bible. Or at least it was when I was in school.

Religious belief based on the Bible is laughable. I thank the British education system for that and wouldn't remove that bit at all

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:04:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Problem 1 - fifty years ago the beliefs would have been considered mundane and self-evident, and not discriminatory at all

No, of course not. 50 years ago gay sex was banned by law. In Germany the last bit of that law was only scrapped in 1994, so you needn't go back 50 years. Can you really expect that new ideas are adopted perfectly synchronously by law and churches, or what exactly is the problem as you say?

ThatBritGuy:

Do you consider that discriminatory too?

Yes.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you really expect that new ideas are adopted perfectly synchronously by law and churches, or what exactly is the problem as you say?

The problem is that churches are, on average, lagging rather than leading adopters of progressive ideas.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"on average" is not very enlightening. I find that churches in urban centres are much quicker adapting to a shift in social mores while churches in rural areas lag behind. And surprise surprise--so does the general population.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been following this, and I've decided it's time to chime in from across The Pond.

First:

I am searching my memory, but I can't think of any people who would treat children like that....

It is my experience that indoctrination of the youth is exactly how religions perpetuate themselves.  I don't think it's any coincidence that if you're born in Israel you will probably be Jewish, in Saudi Arabia a Muslim, in India a Hindu, in Italy a Catholic, etc.  Here in the US even a moderate denomination such as the ELCA (our equivalent of Germany's Evangelische Kirche) practices this, and the less tolerant Lutheran branches, such as the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, run their own schools to keep their children from being tainted by public school educations.  The Catholic Church maintains a parochial school system that it established in the 1800s so Catholic children would not be subjected to the Protestant education that was the core of the public schools at the time.

Second:

I am not sure that discrimination by religious people is increasing or not....

It is.  Every year a significant bloc of Christians proclaim that the rest of us have declared a "War on Christmas," and then they declare war on us.  People who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" are assaulted.  Stores whose personnel say "Happy Holidays" are picketed and boycotted.  And now we have scores of legislative proposals (some of which have already passed) making it "legal" to practice discrimination in housing, accommodation, and services if your religious beliefs tell you to.  What these laws in fact say is, "Your right to practice your religion to the detriment of other citizens is more important than those citizens' rights to buy or rent a home, travel, receive medical care, marry, raise children, or anything else."  Anyone who doesn't see a problem with this isn't bothering to look.

Third, I read the New Statesman and New Republic articles.  I wholly agree with Chotiner, and I go on to say Odone is unequivocally full of crap.  I love how she magically morphs not being allowed to use public facilities to promote discrimination into the allegation that religious people "are no longer free to express any belief."  Such compelling logic.  The rest of that article is no better, and when she starts writing about people closing their businesses and losing their jobs, she truly lets her ignorance fly.  We don't let businesses discriminate because we've been down that road, and it isn't good.  Before the civil rights statutes, non-whites effectively could not travel in much of the US.  They couldn't get a room, or a meal, or medical attention, or much of anything else in the way of services and accommodations.  So we passed laws that say, "If you want to discriminate, you'd better get into a business other than serving the general public."  As for the registrar being fired, is Odone really that stupid (I do not equate ignorance and stupidity per se, but I do consider willful ignorance to be stupid.)?  A registrar is a public official.  Why should a public official remain in office will discriminating against citizens contrary to law?  What's next, the Grand Dragon of the KKK gets to be head of the Human Rights Commission even though he believes in discrimination against non-whites and non-Protestants?  Lunacy.

One more point on Odone.  She asks, "Can the decline in the social and intellectual standing of faith be checked, or even reversed?"  Let me give you a tip, Cristina.  People who want to be considered intellectually significant do not end discussions and debates, implicitly or explicitly, with, "You may not agree with me now, but you will when God condemns you to Hell for eternity."

by rifek on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 02:24:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So your experience is different from mine. Unsurprising. And I don't usually hang out with people who disrespect children and their rights and indoctrinate them. I hope that is unsurprising here too.

rifek:

I don't think it's any coincidence that if you're born in Israel you will probably be Jewish, in Saudi Arabia a Muslim, in India a Hindu, in Italy a Catholic, etc.

I don't think either it is coincidence. Likely it is education. Children see the religion their parents practise and learn first behaviour and then the content of their religion. Unless you think that learning things you don't approve of is the same as indoctrination, I don't think you have made your point. As to schools, surely that depends on the curriculum the public (the law) sets and enforces by regularly inspecting private schools, doesn't it?

In your parts you observe an increase of discrimination by religious people. In other regions it is decreasing. Setting out to prove that generally it is increasing (or decreasing) is next to impossible, I should think. And statements that you have no evidence beyond the anecdotal for should be marked as conjecture. Is that controversial?

rifek:

And now we have scores of legislative proposals (some of which have already passed) making it "legal" to practice discrimination in housing, accommodation, and services if your religious beliefs tell you to.

See how important the human rights are that I always harp on? What you need, on your side of the pond, is a human rights court where you can sue your country if it does not protect you from discrimination. Rifek, I have used the European situation in my diary for a reason. I agree with you that Odone's article is crap, and that a ban on discrimination against gays is not an anti-religious discrimination. I note though that reactionaries like Odone take for granted that religious people should be homophobes (that's the unsurprising part), and that the majority on ET agrees with her. I find that hard to put up with. I am constantly told that the views I hold (and that may be exotic in your neighbourhood, but aren't in mine) don't exist, and I find that weird and quite discriminatory.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 04:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless you think that learning things you don't approve of is the same as indoctrination, I don't think you have made your point.

Glib, but inaccurate.

Firstly, religion is never about learning 'things' (i.e. facts) in the same way that other education should be - it's primarily about  accepting the concept of revealed authority as politically, personally, and socially valid, and about an externally imposed (and - in fact - completely arbitrary) definition of identity and affiliation.

If you happen to think that revealed authority is an immensely damaging idea there is nothing good happening here, and indoctrination is hardly the wrong word.

Secondly - how do these tribal affiliations benefit those who self-identify with them? Considering the amount of violence which is a direct consequence of them, the idea that they're beneficial at all is highly debatable.

Thirdly, there will always be individuals who get to adulthood and decide that they would rather not have been through that kind of indoctrination.

You have a very selective interpretation of personal freedom and self-determination if you claim that under-age individuals are only allowed social self-determination when it runs with the grain of their indoctrination, not when it runs against it.

Anyone who truly valued human rights would have no problem with the idea that religion should be a matter of informed adult consent, and not something forced on children.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 06:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Firstly, religion is never about learning 'things' (i.e. facts) in the same way that other education should be

Yes, it is. (And I know that this is not arguing, only arguing as you do.) And things are more than facts, they are values too. You are making my pointrather strongly that a sense for freedom of religion does not exist on ET. Surely raising one's children in a religion is an important part of the freedom to practise religion. What do you expect of me, that I tell my children lies, that is things that I don't believe in? Or do you want to introduce laws against the religious freedom of parents? Do elaborate, this is becoming interesting.

ThatBritGuy:

it's primarily about  accepting the concept of revealed authority as politically, personally, and socially valid, and about an externally imposed (and - in fact - completely arbitrary) definition of identity and affiliation.

This is obviously your experience, but can you tell me why your experience should be more relevant for me than my own? What has your "revealed authority" stuff to do with anything I said?

ThatBritGuy:

You have a very selective interpretation of personal freedom and self-determination if you claim that under-age individuals are only allowed social self-determination when it runs with the grain of their indoctrination, not when it runs against it.

You must be aware how offensive your constant attempts to put things into my mouth are. Why are you doing it?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you expect of me, that I tell my children lies, that is things that I don't believe in?

I don't expect you to tell your children anything. I expect you to leave them to make their own decisions about your beliefs until they're mature enough to be able to make a personal choice about them.

I expect that for the same reasons I don't believe reasonable parents should force their children into any other activity that may not be appropriate for them, or which doesn't match their interests or aptitudes.

Do you really not understand the fundamental contradiction between being a flag-bearer for 'human rights', and denying kids catch-free no-pressure freedom of religious choice - not 'make them agree with me now and hope they follow later', but genuinely free?

What has your "revealed authority" stuff to do with anything I said?

Because you're acting on the basis of a moral authority which is somewhere between arbitrary and subject-to-change-without-notice-as-churches-evolve, and non-existent.

It's one thing to make moral points on the basis of humane morality. It's quite another to imply to kids that your (and their) morals are ultimately favoured by religion and/or god.

You must be aware how offensive your constant attempts to put things into my mouth are. Why are you doing it?

I'm not. You keep claiming that I - and everyone - is putting words into your mouth, but at least 90% of the time we're simply repeating your own words back to you.

You don't seem to have considered the consequences of your beliefs as they apply to the people around you.

Now that you are considering them, you appear not to like those consequences - which is something I quite understand, because I don't think they're reasonable.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 07:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Do you really not understand the fundamental contradiction between being a flag-bearer for 'human rights', and denying kids catch-free no-pressure freedom of religious choice - not 'make them agree with me now and hope they follow later', but genuinely free?

'Genuinely free' means teaching what you believe, while teaching what I believe is 'forcing' them. I understand. You are projecting all sorts of nonsense on me. Disgusting.

ThatBritGuy:

It's quite another to imply to kids that your (and their) morals are ultimately favoured by religion and/or god.

More nonsense that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I have ever said. You are making up your stuff freely. Do you feel very much better when you are throwing with dirt?

ThatBritGuy:

I'm not. You keep claiming that I - and everyone - is putting words into your mouth, but at least 90% of the time we're simply repeating your own words back to you.

Oh no, not everyone. Don't hide. Tell me why you are projecting your shit on me.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 09:46:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Genuinely free' means teaching what you believe, while teaching what I believe is 'forcing' them.

No. I'm quite sure I didn't say that, or imply it in any way.

What I did say is that kids should be allowed to make up their own minds about the beliefs of their parents - because, you know, that's what freedom of belief is [1] .

If you genuinely believe that's 'disgusting' there's hardly any point in continuing this.

[1]Not to be confused with freedom of religion, which seems to be something rather different.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 03:47:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
No. I'm quite sure I didn't say that, or imply it in any way

Well, it is there, for everybody to see.

ThatBritGuy:

I don't expect you to tell your children anything.

So speaking with my children about my belief is illegitimate in your view. I can't believe that you have the same standard for non-religious parents. There, I expect, you have no objections if the parents explain the world.

ThatBritGuy:

What I did say is that kids should be allowed to make up their own minds about the beliefs of their parents - because, you know, that's what freedom of belief is

No, what you did say is that I wasn't expected to even tell my children anything about my beliefs. If you had your way they would not even KNOW them. How can they make up their minds about what they don't know, eh?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Raising children in a religion" is a lot more than telling them what is yours. It is telling them what theirs should be, and making them practice it, and hindering them if they want to opt out or would like to practice some alternative.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. And my point is what is raising children without religion? Not telling them that they should be without religion, and making them practice none, and hindering them if they want to opt out or would like to practice some alternative?  I assume TBG would clap his hands and dance with joy if one of his children wished baptism, because the non-religious have a totally different style of education from what the religious do. May God preserve the sense of superiority of all atheists!
by Katrin on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 08:42:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably no more delighted than you would be if one of your kids told you to stop pestering with that religion stuff because they wanted to become atheists.

Actually I'd wonder which adult had been evangelising in their general direction. If it turned out it was a free choice based on spontaneous interest from books/reading/TV and not on unsolicited pressure from an adult, I'd be perplexed but supportive - which is not, I suspect, what you would be.

In practice the difference is that most churches baptise children before they can have any possible idea what the symbolism of baptism means, and also before they have any possible way of expressing dissent.

Obviously it's nonsensical to claim that's an expression of free choice for the kids, for reasons that are surely obvious.

May God preserve the sense of superiority of all atheists!

Enough with the weasel words, insinuations, and victim plays already.

Your 'freedom of religion' clearly extends only as far as the 'rights' of the religious to evangelise their beliefs.

When confronted with the possibility of actual freedom of belief you're dead set against it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 09:13:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And here I thought Freethought had made some progress since 1600... Apparently the battle for it is still on.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 09:42:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what is raising children without religion? Not telling them that they should be without religion, and making them practice none, and hindering them if they want to opt out or would like to practice some alternative?

Katrin, this is hilarious. You are trying to equate the enforcement of a specific dogmatic system with the lack of enforcement of a whole class of dogmatic systems. Even an atheist parent actively railing against religions to her six-year-old child is not a parallel to religious indoctrination (it would be a parallel to a religious parent railing against all atheists, or all polytheists). But "raising people without religion" is just that: raising them with things not including any religion. You can't "make them practice none" if they don't have one and don't first know the practices of any one. The parent doesn't even have to make any reference to religions, though the child may force her to say something if asked. (BTW this is pretty much my case; I knew religion as something from history but knew almost nothing about contemporary religion until my parents forced me to pretend to be a good Catholic boy in front of my grandparents.)

And I insist: raising children in a religion (or any other coherent system of dogmas) means pre-empting them in making up their own minds and denying them choices, and that based on a coherent set of dogmas held by a wider community rather than one of several individuals influencing the child's education.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 04:14:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
And I insist: raising children in a religion (or any other coherent system of dogmas) means pre-empting them in making up their own minds and denying them choices, and that based on a coherent set of dogmas held by a wider community rather than one of several individuals influencing the child's education.

We don't agree on your definition of religion, Dodo. For me it is more basic: acknowledging the existence of God. The rest is secondary. And that makes it a dichotomy of belief in the existence of God or belief that there is no God. Religious freedom for me means that neither is enforced.

DoDo:

But "raising people without religion" is just that: raising them with things not including any religion. You can't "make them practice none" if they don't have one and don't first know the practices of any one. The parent doesn't even have to make any reference to religions, though the child may force her to say something if asked.

Which child would not ask? Very theoretically you are right, but practically not: children in a certain age are little machines emitting at high speed questions that are hard to answer. So realistically you will make statements about your position on religion. It's inevitable. And if you are an important attachment figure for the child, your answer will carry weight. And if the child knows you as someone who practises rites OR as someone who does not practise the rites it sees other people practise, that is more information about your position that you can't avoid giving, but which will lead to more questions. And all the answers you give can be sorted along the dichotomy if there is a God or not.

I am curious: why was it important for your parents to pretend religion?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:21:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
acknowledging the existence of God

Wait, the existence of God is a fact?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does "acknowledge" necessarily imply fact, not belief?
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:34:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can acknowledge that you believe in God.

You're not going to get me to acknowledge that God exists.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:48:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you see a difference between "know" and "believe"?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. I am not wondering about the difference between fact and belief (indeed I am insisting on it). I am wondering about the meaning of "acknowledge", and you are right. I should have chosen another word.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:42:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience of religion closely parallels that of Dodo, so perhaps I can answer that.

My parents were both brought up with religion, but grew out of it as thinking people in the 1940s. I don't think either parent "came out" for their parents, with respect to their non-religion. It was easier, less confrontational, to simply obey the minimal rites. Of their six children, all were baptised either Presbyterian or Anglican (depending, as far as I understand, on which grandparents were more likely to cough up some money at the time).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 11:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This discussion has become unwieldy and unproductive, but there are two things worth to comment here.

For me it is more basic: acknowledging the existence of God. The rest is secondary.

From my viewpoint, this notion is a common ignorance among monotheists. You use the word "God" as if its meaning were something singular and self-explanatory, but it is actually laden with unspoken assumptions about what "God" means, a lack of recognition that there are several different and incompatible "Gods" if one looks at the beliefs of different people (compare, say, the Prime Mover God of an Enlightement philosopher to the talkative personal God of an Irish drunkard), not to mention religions that have no God but multiple small-case gods. People's religious outlook is most certainly not a dichotomy, there are literally millions of different views on the existence of gods.

I am curious: why was it important for your parents to pretend religion?

Because, like eurogreen's parents, my parents never told my grandparents about their apostasy, and didn't want me to blow their cover. It was also part of keeping that cover up that we didn't opt out of religion class at school when in West Germany (an experience which felt much less oppressive for me, BTW, than prayer before sleep and Sunday church when on holiday with my grandparents).

The reason my parents didn't tell about their apostasy is that they feared my grandparents (three Catholics, one of them converted from a Lutheran as a youth along with family, and a Calvinist) would both get emotionally distressed and angrily start to keep a distance, things that happened in other families. Both of those reactions are the consequences of the coercive nature of religious instruction: in their traditional way of religion, you are made to feel guilt for any omission of religious practice, and a child's apostasy is the child's moral failure and eternal damnation and the parent's failure at education.

(Actually, my grandmother was aware that my mother doesn't go to church every Sunday, but she suppressed suspicions by believing that it's because my mother has no time besides her job and home chores. Still, a few years before her death, her suspicions about us must have solidified, as once she levelled a cryptic accusation of "apostasy" at me.)

And, again, if you didn't have experience with such religious instruction, you were the lucky exemption.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 20th, 2014 at 05:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
People's religious outlook is most certainly not a dichotomy, there are literally millions of different views on the existence of gods.

And my point was religious freedom, and that no religious or a-religious view is to be privileged. Surely, with notions around that religion has no place in the public sphere, there is a dichotomy of a public sphere without any reference to religion and one that includes the freedom to public references to religion, whichever religion that may be. I see signs of a reversal of the religious coercion (with all the consequences of "guilt" and so) that you describe, instead of a disappearance of coercion which I wish for.

DoDo:

And, again, if you didn't have experience with such religious instruction, you were the lucky exemption.

I have no idea whose experience is more representative of a majority, yours or mine. Is it important? Though probably I shouldn't complain: for the first time in this thread someone acknowledges that my experience exists, and does not tell me that religion automatically is something coercive and oppressive.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 21st, 2014 at 06:07:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I shouldn't have lost my temper, but then: why do you do it? You have sprinkled the entire thread with really disgusting things which you put into my mouth. Your posts have nothing to do with what I say. It is not "my words". It is a damn lie to say that it was.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 10:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely raising one's children in a religion is an important part of the freedom to practise religion.

This is not an uncontroversial position. Or rather, it is a position which implicitly postulates a level of parental prerogative which is not uncontroversial.

Proselytizing to people you hold power over is not generally held to be an important part of freedom of religion (except by fundie nutcases). In fact, I would go so far as to say that proselytizing to people you hold power over is generally not considered to fall within the purview of freedom of religion.

So why are your own children different from, say, schoolchildren with whom you have been entrusted? Or adults over whom you have authority, e.g. as their boss, or their doctor, or the warden of their prison?

When parents teach their children stuff like Creationism and actively misinform them about matters of reproductive health, it is generally accepted that society has not only a legitimate interest but an outright obligation to disabuse the children of the harmful nonsense which has been impressed upon them.

So, in short: No, that is not obvious, and reasonable people may disagree.

Personally, I consider parents to be overstepping their bounds when they induct pre-pubescent children into their (or any) religion. I also, however, consider that it's largely unavoidable: Detection and intervention by society would require invasions of privacy to which the original offense stands in no reasonable proportion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:23:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
When parents teach their children stuff like Creationism and actively misinform them about matters of reproductive health, it is generally accepted that society has not only a legitimate interest but an outright obligation to disabuse the children of the harmful nonsense which has been impressed upon them.

Right, that IS generally accepted. I wonder of course why you bring it up since it is generally accepted that parents have no right to misinform their children. There is no dispute about that, the dispute is exclusively about matters of belief.

We are back at atheist privilege. I reject the notion that atheists are free to teach their beliefs and believers are not.

So to make it even plainer, and since you brought it up: there is no disagreement between us on physics or biology. On facts that can be proved right or wrong. We KNOW how the world came into existence and life developed. We do not know why, against all odds, this process resulted in such awe inspiring, breath taking, joyful beauty. The reason of this beauty is a matter of BELIEF, not of knowledge. I call the source of this indefinite amount of joy God.

If you have never felt this awe and joy, I would really pity you. I find that unimaginable though. Whatever your beliefs are (and you must have beliefs on the source of beauty), they don't take precedence over mine.

And you bet I tell my children about it.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 07:17:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder of course why you bring it up since it is generally accepted that parents have no right to misinform their children.

I reject the notion that atheists are free to teach their beliefs and believers are not.

And good luck squaring that circle. Because by a remarkable quirk of psychology, no believer in anything ever believes they're misinforming anyone.

This fact seems oddly detached from the content of the beliefs.

So who gets to decide whether or not parents are misleading their kids?

Of course if by believers you really mean 'Katrin and religious people with the same value system as Katrin' and not 'those people over there whose weird superstitions I have no time for because they're obviously nonsense and dangerous to boot' then - wait, what was your point again?

You really don't see the obvious contradiction in this, do you?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 10:35:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can anyone tell me if they can see a difference between TBG's behaviour in this discussion, and plain unabashed trolling?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 11:02:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm downrating that because there was absolutely no justification for it.

I'd appreciate it if you answered specific points in future without name calling.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am pointing at the difference between FACTS, that can be true ("inform") or false ("misinform"), and BELIEFS, and you accuse me (AGAIN!) that I wanted privileges for my beliefs compared to other beliefs blah blah.

If you tell your children that 2+2=3, you are MISINFORMING them. If you tell them that you do or don't believe in God, you are talking about belief, which can't be true or false, only present or absent.

And now I wonder how you will distort this post.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 05:38:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying that the bad dogmas of Creationists and other literalists or anti-contraception Catholics are factual errors and not beliefs? I don't think facts and beliefs can be separated that nicely.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think facts and beliefs are separate well enough, only our ability to understand facts and tell them apart from beliefs is the problem. If you use your fingers to count you can get easily enough what 2+2 is. For more complex facts you need trust in scientific methods, and trust is a distant relative of belief. That's why people talk of "belief in climate change" and the like. It is not belief. It is trust in the verified findings of scientists (such as :( the amount of iron contained in spinach).
by Katrin on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 08:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The above was on literalism. Anti-contraception Catholics are different, because they start with a norm, that sex is only permitted with a wish to procreate, and conclude with a ban on contraceptives. Logically they can't do anything else as long as they don't abolish the norm. Nothing to do with belief clashing with facts, though. It's about enforcing norms.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 08:55:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where, in this scheme, would you place a belief that is not a fact-claim per se, but so obviously insane that it can only be sustained by systematically lying about related fact-claims?

For example, the doctrinal Catholic attitude to sex?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 06:45:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The doctrinal Catholic attitude to sex is prescriptive, not a belief. I wouldn't agree that it is "insane", although it clashes with basic psychological human needs (but that is intentional) and perpetuates an image of humanity that I don't share. But still, it is prescriptive, not descriptive, and the question of fact vs belief doesn't arise.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The doctrinal Catholic attitude to sex is prescriptive, not a belief.

Whereas belief is descriptive? What?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Catholic sexual morals are about required behaviour and condemned behaviour, not a description of behaviour (or "fact-claim").
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because there's no theory of human nature (i.e., statement of "fact") in Catholic morals. Right.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:27:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a non-factual (and therefore, according to you, not amenable to being repressed as misinformation) religious doctrine (which parents according to you must therefore be free to impress upon their children), which requires systematic lying about fact-claims to support.

I'm curious how you propose to square that circle, because suppressing factual misinformation will in this case quite clearly also suppress a particular religious doctrine as collateral damage. Or collateral advantage, for those who, like I, find it a loathsome doctrine which does not have any place in civilized society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 01:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure that the official Catholic sexual moral requires systematic lying about fact-claims to support. It is a condemnation of many forms of human sexual behaviour. That is not so much a fact claim as setting the rule that the behaviour is undesirable. I am very much in favour of involving the Catholic church in debate about it, from the outside and from the inside, because we agree that in reality the undesirable behaviour is that of the church issuing these ratings and rules. I criticise parents who tell their children to behave according to this dogma, but I don't think their behaviour is necessarily abusive. I wouldn't remove the children or so. Their behaviour falls neither in the category of what I approve of nor in the category of what I want banned. There are several loathsome doctrines around which do not have any place in civilized society as I want it, but one must tolerate that people adhere to them.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Catholic Church implicitly disagrees with your assessment that its sexual doctrines can be supported without systematically lying about factual matters.

(Assuming, that is, that the Catholic Church prefers not-lying over lying when possible. Which is, of course, a claim one might challenge.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:57:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Fact : God gave us naughty bits in order to procreate within the bounds of holy wedlock. Any other utilisation of said naughty bits is expressly prohibited : this is written in the book of rules. That is all."

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 03:51:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
...this is written in the book of rules. That is all.

"Rules", exactly.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 12:55:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now speaking as someone with a science education.
  • In science, the closest thing to common-sense "facts" are proofs within an axiomatic system, of which 2+2 = 4 would be an example. Even there, you can run into problems, for example conflict between axioms which may or may not be resolved by modifying the axioms.
  • In science, things get more vague if you include reality, that is, observations. What you do is creating hypotheses to create hypotheses describing past observations and predicting the outcome of future observations, and then decide which hypotheses are useful and which among the useful is best based on those future observations. Such a hypothesis is an axiomatic system itself, but you don't just judge it for internal consistency but also its relation to reality and to rival hypotheses. The adoption of a hypothesis that survived some tests may be considered akin to "fact", but one with inherent uncertainty. Due to that uncertainty, it could also be considered to be akin to "belief" (except a superseded scientific theory can still be useful: see Newton vs. Einstein), though the intuition of a researcher that this or that hypothesis is worth to be pursued is closer to common notions of "belief".

This is a weaker distinction of "fact" and "belief" than in common sense, but I find it even more difficult to do the opposite and apply the above two to religion. Very little prediction and verification and little competition is involved in the establishment of religious belief. Meanwhile, while theological debates are pretty much constrained to dogma and/or scripture and thus an axiomatic system, religious dogma and especially scripture is very elaborate as axiomatic systems come, and interpretation has a lot of room: is a certain passage allegory or history? Is a particular group of evil people denounced for apostasy, rape or homosexuality? What to make of slavery in the Bible? And so on. The relationship to reality is usually in the form of behaviour prescriptions derived from the axiomatic system, rather than the feedback of observations.

Now what you seem to be thinking of is collisions between scientific "facts" and religious belief. Like creationists seeing the Flood where geologists see processes like erosion over hundreds of millions of years, most other Christians believing that their God played an active role in the emergence of both life and humans while science is looking into hypotheses of abiogenesis and sees man as just one of the apes, Muslim literalists believing that children originate from their father's seed only with the mother only modifying the foetus while science says that the mother's ovum and the father's sperm fuse (with the former bringing in more genetic info), Hindu fundies saying that all species exist forever while science says that they evolve and branch out and go extinct all the time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 06:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think - and Katrin can correct me if I am wrong - that Katrin is thinking of the answers to typical childrens questions where there isn't much of a scientific answer. What was before the universe? What will come after? What happens after death? Where was I when grandma was a child? Does God exist? Does Santa Claus?

A parent might answer to the best of their capabilities, and hopefully not troll to much, but in the end the answers are bound to reflect both their knowledge of facts and their spiritual beliefs. While god-in-the-holes (of knowledge) is a weak (and shrinking) argument for the existence of god, that is different form the existence of holes and these are filled up by extrapolation/belief.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This sub-thread started because Katrin expressed the view that teaching "stuff like Creationism" and active misinformation "about matters of reproductive health" is about facts not belief, whereas I contended that there isn't such a clear distinction. That is, the debate focuses on issues where there can be a conflict with science.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A parent might answer to the best of their capabilities, and hopefully not troll to much, but in the end the answers are bound to reflect both their knowledge of facts and their spiritual beliefs.

Or they can just say 'I don't know.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:07:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be the most unsatisfactory option.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if you'd rather pretend you have answers to questions you can't possibly know the answer to.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:00:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why you're not a scientist.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:16:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, what? Why would that be unsatisfactory? Better to make some stuff up rather than tell the truth?

I'd much rather tell the kids "I don't know, let's go find out" or "I don't know, and neither does anyone else" than make some stuff up. I'll go along with Santa, but the moral I'll use it to teach later on is not one I suspect you're going to like ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 11:00:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are giving the answer to your own question there: I would answer to these questions either "I know" or "one can't know, but I believe" or "I know how we can find that out". I would not simply answer "I don't know" and leave the child alone with that answer. That would be highly unsatisfactory and kill the child's curiosity.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 11:04:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's wrong with "One can't know"? What you need to tack "I believe" on for?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because although (undisputedly) one can't know where grandpa is now that he is dead, I would find it unsatisfactory and even cruel to break off the conversation at this point. I wish to have the option to tell a child what I believe where Grandpa is. This option what is in dispute, though.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course that option is not in dispute.

What is disputed is the propriety of presenting only your belief on the matter. What is wrong with saying. "Nobody knows. Some people believe such-and-such. Some people believe so-and-so." With or without appending "I believe this-and-that."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:52:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes, this option is exactly what is in dispute. It is exactly this behaviour which constantly gets called "indoctrination" or "forcing one's kids".

You would apparently wish that when I speak about my beliefs I mention the fact that other people have other beliefs. I am not averse to that, in fact that is what my children always used to ask in a certain age. And then I answered that. They used to ask about certain persons and soon detected patterns of orthodoxy and unorthodoxy.

Why is it important that I add the information unasked?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 01:15:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please bear in mind that the problem is notyou, a non-authoritarian parent who is happy to expose her children to different viewpoints. [without wishing to speak for everyone, I'm pretty sure nobody would accuse you of brainwashing or mind control]

The issue is the average religious parent [and if you think that's the same thing, you haven't been around].

If the authoritarian parent delivers the official religious viewpoint about a particular question, you may be sure that she will not offer alternative views, or encourage the child to think about them. And that is a problem, as I'm sure you will agree.

And I'm also sure you will answer "but the problem is not religion, it's authoritarianism". Which is true.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 01:38:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
And I'm also sure you will answer "but the problem is not religion, it's authoritarianism". Which is true

But it is so much more fun to harp on "The issue is the average religious parent" instead of "The issue is the average authoritarian  parent" I assume. For, why else should you do so, if you already know that the problem is not religion, it's authoritarianism.

By the way, I have never said I had an issue with atheism. The problem is not atheism, it is intolerance.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:00:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as authoritarian behavior justified (or excused) on religious grounds is given more deference than authoritarian behavior in general, then the unmerited respect society holds religion in is a part of the problem.

As long as authoritarians can use religious rhetoric to rally people who really ought to know better into defending their abuses, then sorry, but religion really is a problem.

And as long as religious rhetoric is inseparably laced with a number of malicious social engineering tricks, it will always be under suspicion by people who don't like to be brain-hacked.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a thought experiment for you, then :

A non-religious authoritarian group ordains that all its members must wear a distinctive hat at all times in order to symbolize their obeissance to their Great Leader.

Parents belonging to this group insist that their children should wear these hats at all times. The children are not allowed to take their hats off at any other time (except in the bath or in bed).

Should schools allow the hats to be worn?

(I'm guessing that you're going to find this upsetting and insulting?)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 03:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
(I'm guessing that you're going to find this upsetting and insulting?)

No, but I find it so unrealistc that it is boringly easy to answer. And is it really so unclear what I find upsetting and insulting in this debate, and why? (That's a question. If I get a "yes" for an answer, I can clarify)

You are back at reducing the headscarf (which lurks behind your ominous hat) to a symbol of obeisance to authoritarianism, and the act wearing them as unvoluntary and enforced, and all the the girls who do as victims without agency. We have been here before. First of all, Islam (and religion in general) is not authoritarian. Some practices are. In those cases where compulsion plays a role, the ban on headscarves doesn't solve the problem. In the better case of compulsion you haven't altered the situation, in the worse case you harden positions of parents and girls. Some girls consent to wearing headscarves in order to achieve more freedom in other fields, and a ban on this strategy increases their problems. In many other cases there is no compulsion, and you are banning girls from wearing a piece of clothing that is important or even essential for practising their religion (if you want to harp on your non-religious group: for a social network they attach importance to), or that is important for them for other reasons. One motivation for wearing a headscarf which you consistently ignore or ridicule is setting a counterpoint to the compulsion to objectifying clothing, by the way.

So much for your thought experiment. You can't claim it was realistical, can you? If you have a phobia against hats, do something about it. If you can't see that there are many reasons to wear a headscarf or a hat, you are blind to reality. And if you want to do something against authoritarianism, fight authoritarianism.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 12:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it interesting that you decide to quote that particular paragraph, rather than the one immediately preceding it, or the one before that. Particularly since you have been quite vocal in your objections to being quoted uncharitably yourself.

It is generally accepted that there are limits to parents' prerogatives. It is also generally accepted that there are limits to what caretakers may impose upon those society has for whatever reason judged incompetent (children among them). It is not by any means obvious, then, that religious indoctrination (or political - did I forget to clarify that I find it equally inappropriate to enroll children in a political party?) should fall on one side of that boundary or the other.

Reasonable people may disagree, both on which side of the line religious or political indoctrination falls, and on what constitutes indoctrination.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 01:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
I find it interesting that you decide to quote that particular paragraph, rather than the one immediately preceding it, or the one before that.

Do you find I quoted you uncharitably or worse, misrepresentingly?

JakeS:

It is generally accepted that there are limits to parents' prerogatives. It is also generally accepted that there are limits to what caretakers may impose upon those society has for whatever reason judged incompetent (children among them).

True.

JakeS:

It is not by any means obvious, then, that religious indoctrination (or political - did I forget to clarify that I find it equally inappropriate to enroll children in a political party?) should fall on one side of that boundary or the other.

It is by no means obvious that the presence of religion has to be treated differently from the absence of religion! That is our point of disagreement here. You cannot live in a parent-child-relationship without showing and teaching (by being a model, for instance) your value system and what it is based in. It would be child abuse if you tried. So, the presence or absence of religion naturally is at the core of parents' rights to determine their children's education. Teachers (in the public education system) have a duty to neutrality, for reasons of separation of state and church.

All this is not really contested in un-exotic places, I think. There is a wider debate on headscarf-bans and the like. There is another debate on circumcision for religious reasons. But a debate about the right of parents to raise their children in a religion (as opposed to raising them without religion, which you find okay) is something unusual. I don't think it is a topic outside ET. (It is not even a topic of conflict between my non-religious husband and me, by the way.) ET is a very weird place...

JakeS:

Reasonable people may disagree, both on which side of the line religious or political indoctrination falls, and on what constitutes indoctrination.

I note that you failed to list non-religious indoctrination, and I don't think you merely forgot it. Remarkable prejudice, I must say.

By the way, when I went to a demonstration for the first time, I was 12 years old.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 04:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you find I quoted you uncharitably or worse, misrepresentingly?

In this case I think the quoted selection misrepresents the comment, yes. Whether that was the intent or not, I leave to the resident mind-readers to divine, but that was the outcome.

It is by no means obvious that the presence of religion has to be treated differently from the absence of religion!

No reason other than freedom of religion: If I am not free from your religion, then I am not free to practice my own.

So, the presence or absence of religion naturally is at the core of parents' rights to determine their children's education.

That right is also not uncontroversial. The Jacobin position, for instance, disputes it outright. I would disagree with the Jacobin stance on this, but I would still argue that it is a prerogative which comes with certain limitations. Precisely where those limitations are drawn is a matter on which reasonable people can disagree.

I note that you failed to list non-religious indoctrination, and I don't think you merely forgot it.

I'm not clear on how you'd go about indoctrinating people to not-believe something, except by indoctrinating them to believe something mutually exclusive. There are certain explicitly atheist philosophical schools that I suppose someone could be indoctrinated into, but I would class that under political indoctrination.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay. I still don't see in what way I distorted your view by focusing on that one paragraph, but I can try to say something on the other paragraphs as well.

JakeS:

Proselytizing to people you hold power over is not generally held to be an important part of freedom of religion

I don't see the position of parents towards their children as a position of power in the first place. It is complicated in what ways parents exercise power even in families where biological parenthood, legal guardianship, and social parentship are the same (which in my family is not the case, because my children are foster children--with whom I am entrusted by the public child welfare). Let's look at the places where you see power relations at work which would preclude attempts at proselytising. The school system is neutral for reasons of separation of church and state, so the question doesn't arise here, I think. The same is true for the prison system. Work relations? I wonder where that would arise: probably only in the most exploitative work places (where it wouldn't be the most urgent problem by comparison) anyway, because elsewhere people aren't quite defenceless. That leaves of your examples the doctor. Yes, I remember a particularly nasty and painful treatment during which the doctor started talking extremely reactionary politics. I resented that a lot of course, and I find that behaviour highly unethical, but I fail to see how efficient proselytising in such a position of power can take place.

So, in short, I fail to see the relevance of the power argument, unless in connection with your paragraph on misinformation, which I answered. What's more, I would find an education style abusive that tries to hide such an important part of one's personality: education by the parents is education by the entire personality of the parents.

Was this really so central to your argument that my leaving it out amounted to a distortion of what you said? I still don't see it.

Where would you draw the line anyway? Would you ban parents from practising a religion? Or only from explaining what they are doing? And are you really saying that the Jacobin stance on religion is less controversial than the right of parents to determine their children's religion?

JakeS:

I'm not clear on how you'd go about indoctrinating people to not-believe something, except by indoctrinating them to believe something mutually exclusive.

I assume that you believe there is no God. You can't know though. You are free to believe that, and to teach it to your children. That's what I mean when I want the presence of religion treated in the same way as the absence of religion. It doesn't contradict your statement at all:
JakeS:

No reason other than freedom of religion: If I am not free from your religion, then I am not free to practice my own.

Right. Agree completely. And if I am not free from your a-religion, then I am not free to practice my religion. Do you agree?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:34:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. Agree completely. And if I am not free from your a-religion, then I am not free to practice my religion. Do you agree?

That depends whether you believe 'practice' automatically includes the right to force your religion on your kids in ways that will cripple their ability to make free adult choices about spirituality later in life.

Look - this isn't hard. The Jesuits know how this works. Francis Xavier said 'Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.'

Considering how tolerant the Jesuits were, it's unlikely he meant '...Because my tender care is the best way to promote free spiritual choice for adults.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:33:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice, it may mean that they could mould his personality, not necessarily make him a believer: See Fidel Castro, James Joyce, and Alfred Hitchcock for examples.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:12:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
That depends whether you believe 'practice' automatically includes the right to force your religion on your kids in ways that will cripple their ability to make free adult choices about spirituality later in life.

I haven't given you the slightest reason to assume I wanted to force or cripple children or their abilities, and I resent that you insinuate I did.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:59:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's true you've claimed that isn't your intent. And I think that's likely true.

Unfortunately that doesn't alter the fact that you're promoting systems of belief that can have that effect in practice, while heroically ignoring all the arguments and evidence that they do.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 07:32:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you're promoting systems of belief that can have that effect in practice

while you are representing the totally unblemished record of atheist movements. I see.

by Katrin on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 03:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see the position of parents towards their children as a position of power in the first place.

Then you are using an extremely non-standard version of the English language.

It is complicated in what ways parents exercise power

No, that's actually quite straightforward. If somebody decides where your bed is, what you eat, when you sleep, how much money you have to spend, what you can spend it on, where you spend the majority of your waking hours, and even to some extent who you am allowed to socialize with in your free time, then they wield power over you.

Power is not a bad thing per se, but it does come with certain responsibilities, which is why it is extremely worrisome when people who hold power over others pretend that they do not.

The school system is neutral for reasons of separation of church and state,

No, the school and penal systems should be neutral because they wield power over its inmates. The fact that they are state institutions (in most of the first world) is neither here nor there - the fixation on protecting citizens from the state, rather than from abuse of asymmetric power relationships in general - is a pernicious Libertarian obsession.

Work relations? I wonder where that would arise: probably only in the most exploitative work places (where it wouldn't be the most urgent problem by comparison) anyway, because elsewhere people aren't quite defenceless.

That is not true for sexual or racial harassment. Why should we expect it to be for religious?

That leaves of your examples the doctor. Yes, I remember a particularly nasty and painful treatment during which the doctor started talking extremely reactionary politics. I resented that a lot of course, and I find that behaviour highly unethical, but I fail to see how efficient proselytising in such a position of power can take place.

Orac put it best:
Does Dr. Schroder really believe he's being non-coercive? I mean, seriously. Think about it. Let's say you're an atheist. You're about to go under the knife for, let's say, a cholecystectomy. Your surgeon, after explaining once again the risks and benefits of surgery, asks you if you want to pray with him? Do you refuse? Or are you intimidated because you don't want to piss off the man who is about to cut into your body in order to forcibly rearrange your anatomy for therapeutic effect?

[...]

It's one thing if the patient asks the surgeon if he wants to pray with him, completely unprompted. In that case, I don't see a problem. In fact, even I would probably join in (after trying to beg off once perhaps), because in the end to me it's all about the patient and I'm not about to do anything that makes the patient feel uncomfortable or lose confidence in me, my heathen tendencies notwithstanding. But that's not what Dr. Schroder is talking about.


And in answer to the obvious objection: No, people generally do internalize beliefs they are coerced to outwardly ape.

Where would you draw the line anyway? Would you ban parents from practising a religion? Or only from explaining what they are doing?

In terms of legality, I draw the line at physical harm or the use of social control techniques (enforced isolation, pervasive and arbitrary invasions of privacy, extreme in-group/out-group identification, infantilizaton, etc.).

In terms of propriety, I draw the line at actively initiating. As with the doctor-patient relationship, it is one thing for the party in power to answer honestly (or even to answer what they believe the other party needs to hear). It is quite another to start pushing answers in search of questions.

And are you really saying that the Jacobin stance on religion is less controversial than the right of parents to determine their children's religion?

No, I am saying that reasonable people can disagree with the level of parental prerogative implied by a right to induct your children into a religion.

I assume that you believe there is no God. You can't know though. You are free to believe that, and to teach it to your children. That's what I mean when I want the presence of religion treated in the same way as the absence of religion.

I would find that inappropriate. I would want to teach any children of mine about the wide variety of things people believe, and that belief in any or all of these things is completely optional, and let them work things out on their own, at their own pace.

But then, I never had a problem with "nobody really knows the answer to that question." And, when they get a bit older, "nobody really knows if there is an answer to that question."

And if I am not free from your a-religion, then I am not free to practice my religion. Do you agree?

In principle. In practice, I am having some difficulty coming up with a realistic example of not-belief imposing on believers.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:02:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
No, that's actually quite straightforward. If somebody decides where your bed is, what you eat, when you sleep, how much money you have to spend, what you can spend it on, where you spend the majority of your waking hours, and even to some extent who you am allowed to socialize with in your free time, then they wield power over you

If, yes. In reality children aren't THAT weak-willed, and your parental options to enforce all that are limited, with good reason. And these limits enforce a more democratic education style than what was usual when I was a child. So, parental power depends to a certain extent on negotiation skills on both sides.

JakeS:

No, the school and penal systems should be neutral because they wield power over its inmates. The fact that they are state institutions (in most of the first world) is neither here nor there - the fixation on protecting citizens from the state, rather than from abuse of asymmetric power relationships in general - is a pernicious Libertarian obsession.

Ha, THAT can of worms probably deserves a better place than somewhere in this long thread. You probably don't deny how quickly democratic control of a state can break down, and how totalitarian the immense power of the state then becomes. I am quite fixated on protecting citizens from the state, and not shy about it.

No, institutions of the state should be neutral, because they are for all citizens, not only the religious ones. In a (theoretical) state of 100% voluntary adherents of the same religion it wouldn't matter.

JakeS:

That is not true for sexual or racial harassment. Why should we expect it to be for religious?

Because efficient proselytising implies persuasion, not harassment. I find it unlikely (or extremely rare), not impossible. But I really find the example of the doctor is where you can illustrate your point best, and I agree that the abuse of power is a problem. You cited this as an argument to limit parents' right to raise their children in a religion though. You asked how to deal with the combination of position of power and proselytising.

This is from the text you quote:

in the end to me it's all about the patient and I'm not about to do anything that makes the patient feel uncomfortable or lose confidence in me,

Indeed. That is the ethical position we expect from a doctor, and have a right to expect. And we can enforce it by sanctioning behaviour that disregards these responsibilities.

If you want an analogy to parents raising their children, you must look at what we expect as responsible behaviour there. I have no issue with rules to prevent abuse of power under the heading of what is (ir-)responsible behaviour for a defined group. I object to rules under the heading of limiting freedom of religion. This difference sounds perhaps academic, but I think it enables drawing the border between tolerable and intolerable behaviour accurately. The rules (and sanctions!) for a doctor must be different from those for parents.  

I am afraid, I have an issue with your differentiation between legality and propriety. Propriety or moral are not political. Do you want to legally ban and sanction a certain behaviour? Or do you want to ape the politicians who lamented the use of "financial instruments" as improper that they had legalised? Well, if next they declare bicycle theft legal but improper, everyone is free to steal bicycles and that is all that counts. So the only question is what parents can do before you send out child welfare officers.

JakeS:

In principle. In practice, I am having some difficulty coming up with a realistic example of not-belief imposing on believers

At last. I am quite content with "in principle" and I have no issue with your lack of imagination. ;)  I guess any thoughts what you are going to teach your own children are a bit premature, right? Only then you need to determine what is proper more than what is legal, of course.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 12:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If, yes. In reality children aren't THAT weak-willed, and your parental options to enforce all that are limited,

No, they really are not.

Pre-teen children have no formal voice on where they go to school (nevermind whether...).
Pre-teen children have no formal voice on where they live (unless their biological parents happen to have divorced and they live in one of the world's more progressive jurisdictions).
Pre-teen children have no personal finances, nor any legal means of obtaining a regular income. Which in an urbanized society means that they have no independent legal means of obtaining food and shelter.

Pretending that those barriers to self-determination can be overcome by sufficient application of willpower is nothing short of delusional.

Of course there are excellent reasons for society to recognize certain parental prerogatives and deny certain choices to pre-teen children. But the fact that there are good reasons for the asymmetric power relationship to be tolerated doesn't change the fact that you are talking about an asymmetric power relationship.

Because efficient proselytising implies persuasion, not harassment.

You seem to have a very rosy view of both how durable the human mind is under sustained harassment and how the currently dominant religions became the dominant religions.

Indeed. That is the ethical position we expect from a doctor, and have a right to expect. And we can enforce it by sanctioning behaviour that disregards these responsibilities.

I sincerely wish that your experiences with the healthcare system continue to be so positive as to permit you to maintain that outlook.

In practice, it's hard enough to even nail doctors for sexually abusing their patients, nevermind emotionally abusing them.

I object to rules under the heading of limiting freedom of religion.

So if the dude who decides whether you get to eat tonight - or any night at all for the next six to twelve years - insists that you say grace over the food before you get to eat it, then that's not a problem for your religious freedom?

Or is it that children have no religious freedom?

Or is it just that you don't understand how freedom from religion is an indispensable part of freedom of religion?

I am afraid, I have an issue with your differentiation between legality and propriety. Propriety or moral are not political. Do you want to legally ban and sanction a certain behaviour? Or do you want to ape the politicians who lamented the use of "financial instruments" as improper that they had legalised? Well, if next they declare bicycle theft legal but improper, everyone is free to steal bicycles and that is all that counts. So the only question is what parents can do before you send out child welfare officers.

I disagree with the idea that society has no escalation points between cheap talk and sending in child protection.

The difference between banks and parents is that where parents enjoy the presumption that they are reasonable and responsible, banks should be regulated under the presumption that they are Ponzi merchants and three-card monte dealers.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 10:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mountebanks?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 07:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
So if the dude who decides whether you get to eat tonight - or any night at all for the next six to twelve years - insists that you say grace over the food before you get to eat it, then that's not a problem for your religious freedom?

Believe me, parents have no choice, they are obligated to feed their children. Actually the power of parents is limited--which really was what I have tried to convey. To shorten this part a bit: you are talking about relationships where people might be able to force persons into a religion. I don't advocate force or abuse of power or the like.

What you don't accept, I think, is the following: parents have a system of values which they pass on to their children. Religion is only one part of this, but, it IS part of what parents do by right. When you teach your children what your values and ethics and beliefs are (by conversations, setting an example or whatever) they have no real choice either. They are confronted with their parents' values and can only develop their own priorities when they are growing up. So, there is no real freedom from religion for the children of the religious or freedom to adopt religion for the children of atheists as long as they are children.

JakeS:

I disagree with the idea that society has no escalation points between cheap talk and sending in child protection.

I don't want to depend on somebody's opinion of what is proper or not. I have really strong views on arbitrariness and so. If society wants to set a norm, that's called a law, but you were talking about additional norms set by propriety. Say what behaviour you want to outlaw, and what interventions you dream of if the banned behaviour occurs. And if you want to limit any fundamental rights, kindly point out why your proposal is a proportionate measure of maintaining a conflicting fundamental right.

by Katrin on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 10:21:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What you don't accept, I think, is the following: parents have a system of values which they pass on to their children. Religion is only one part of this, but, it IS part of what parents do by right. When you teach your children what your values and ethics and beliefs are (by conversations, setting an example or whatever) they have no real choice either. They are confronted with their parents' values and can only develop their own priorities when they are growing up. So, there is no real freedom from religion for the children of the religious or freedom to adopt religion for the children of atheists as long as they are children.

That is perfectly fair, and even if it were not it is obviously unavoidable.

It also falls quite far short of what is commonly understood by the purported parental "right" to induct children into a religion, or a political orientation. And even farther short of what is commonly justified by appeal to that "right."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 01:21:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
It also falls quite far short of what is commonly understood by the purported parental "right" to induct children into a religion, or a political orientation.

Does it? I wonder what "commonly understood" means for you? I really should ask you for evidence for that statement...

by Katrin on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 03:08:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think either it is coincidence. Likely it is education. Children see the religion their parents practise and learn first behaviour and then the content of their religion. Unless you think that learning things you don't approve of is the same as indoctrination, I don't think you have made your point.

Preschoolers are in no position to decide what they theologically approve of, and that's when the "education" starts.  Consequently, I think I have made my point.

In your parts you observe an increase of discrimination by religious people. In other regions it is decreasing. Setting out to prove that generally it is increasing (or decreasing) is next to impossible, I should think. And statements that you have no evidence beyond the anecdotal for should be marked as conjecture.

I think there is far more than anecdotal evidence.  It's everywhere here in the US.  The Russian Orthodox Church had no small hand in Putin's new legislation.  And the arch-conservative African Anglican bishops are leading the charge in the Anglican Communion against the ECUSA for its efforts promoting gay rights.  More on that later.

What you need, on your side of the pond, is a human rights court where you can sue your country if it does not protect you from discrimination.

Well, the regime just isn't set up for that.  In fact it's the other way around: The government isn't obligated to protect you from discrimination, but it is obligated not to discriminate against you, and you can sue it if it does.

I note though that reactionaries like Odone take for granted that religious people should be homophobes (that's the unsurprising part), and that the majority on ET agrees with her.

Then I must be in a minority.  We have two traditions in this family, Unitarian-Universalist and Episcopalian, both of which are staunch advocates of human rights, so I know that religious people can be human rights advocates.  In fact most civil rights movements in my lifetime have had religious people heavily involved.  Unfortunately, most movements against civil rights in my lifetime have also had religious people heavily involved, recent examples being the LDS Church's sponsorship of Proposition 8 against gay rights in California and the Anglican Communion's civil war against the ECUSA over its gay rights work.
by rifek on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 07:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rifek:
Preschoolers are in no position to decide what they theologically approve of, and that's when the "education" starts.

Wait, you say they can theologically approve of the absence of religion, but not of the presence of it? Teaching them your beliefs is education, teaching them my beliefs is indoctrination?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 09:03:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You referred to "learning things you don't approve of," hence my comment.  I hold certain political and social philosophies that my children frequently disagree with, and when they do, I don't threaten them with eternal damnation.
by rifek on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 10:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how do you get the idea I would threaten my children with eternal damnation? Are you now saying that your children rejected your political and social philosophies when in pre-school age?

My children ask me questions, and they have started that when very young. What happens when we are dead, where do we come from, how came beauty into existence? What children want to know. Am I to tell them what I believe in or must I tell them what I hold to be false? In other words, must I lie? By the way, I wouldn't find it fair if I told them "I know" when in reality "I believe", for the same reason: I don't lie. With what right do you want to make me either lie or else refuse an answer? Because how else can I refrain from what you call indoctrination?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 10:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I was laying any of that behavior at your doorstep.  You've chosen to misinterpret it that way.  Given that we've never met, I'd never presume to make any assertion on how you have raised your children.  I, like you, don't claim to know things I don't.
by rifek on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 01:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it WAS you who brought up "threaten with eternal damnation". If I misinterpreted that, could you perhaps point me how I should have interpreted it?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 06:39:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This discussion started with an observation about the overwhelming majority of all religious people, not about you personally. Even if you personally don't indoctrinate your children in your own religion, and even if there are millions like you, that's pretty much what the parents (and more distant relatives and teachers etc.) of the majority of religious people around the world did, and threatening with eternal damnation is just one popular tool in the hands of the indoctrinators.

I always compare this to party allegiance. There is a correlation between people's party allegiance and that of their parents, too, but no one speaks about 12-year-old, 6-year-old or even newborn Social Democrats or Tories, the way people routinely talk about such Christians or Muslims. And there is a reason there is such a thing as voting age, but for whatever reason, there is no similar thing for religion.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
I always compare this to party allegiance. There is a correlation between people's party allegiance and that of their parents, too, but no one speaks about 12-year-old, 6-year-old or even newborn Social Democrats or Tories, the way people routinely talk about such Christians or Muslims.

I am still waiting that someone compares it to the teachings of atheists, Dodo. We have discussed religionists who in their majority indoctrinate their children (but you know some exceptions who do not), Muslims who oppress girls (even though perhaps some do not), and there is always the unspoken reverse: non-religious do not indoctrinate their children, non-Muslims are model feminists. And the utmost level of rightousness, that is ET. And now I am throwing with spanners. I was aware that it wouldn't go unpunished to disturb processes of externalisation, but I didn't expect it would hurt so much.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 08:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For indoctrination of children, you need (1) a coherent system of doctrines, (2) a strong group identity of those holding the doctrines, and (3) customs or doctrines about the infusion of these from the youngest ages. The only significant non-religious belief systems I can think of which fit the bill are nationalisms and Marxist-Leninist communism – and indeed people do or did speak about 12-year-old, six-year-old or even newborn Germans and Americans or Communists, and indeed I resent both. Now, the first of the above is not incompatible with religion while the second is practically dead. In the 21st century so far, salad-bar-type theists get ever more numerous in the West but are still a small minority world-wide, while lack of ideological organisation is typical for the non-religious. Both may change in the future, but as things stand, you won't find many equivalents of Sunday schools, prayers, crucifixes on the wall, symbolic cloth items or the fear of the devil among six-year-old children of non-religious parents. A further issue you don't seem to be taking into account is that a lot of personal views expressed here aren't inspired by the viewpoint of an atheist teacher but the viewpoint of a one-time child who suffered through the 'teaching' of theist parents or school teachers.

Now, what is your opinion about the political parallel? Would you approve of Free Democrat schools, Sunday instruction of six-year-olds in the basic tenets of Social Democracy at the local party headquarters, and the same children wearing party insignia to school? Should voting age be eliminated? Why should parties be more constrained than religion?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 03:45:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only significant non-religious belief systems I can think of which fit the bill are nationalisms and Marxist-Leninist communism

I'd add mock-heroic free-market capitalism to that. I suspect a lot of the hatred of 'socialism' you see in the US is exactly from an equivalent level of indoctrination.

In fact free-market capitalism is the state ideology of the west, and increasingly also other parts of the world. Instead of a catechism, you have advertising and state propaganda. Instead of priests, you have talking heads and dumb headlines.

Even so - it's all-pervasive, and it's almost impossible to shield a child from it. (I suspect in the UK it actually is impossible, and parents who try will have their children removed by our Social Services.)

The older religions are largely misdirections which keep people distracted an unaware of the extent of official indoctrination.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:03:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
In fact free-market capitalism is the state ideology of the west, and increasingly also other parts of the world. Instead of a catechism, you have advertising and state propaganda. Instead of priests, you have talking heads and dumb headlines.

this is the real state religion, in its way more destructive than any monotheistic killing spree.

as regards parents'belief systems and how they interface with growing childrens' credulity, there are good values and bad ones, and both can be taught/modeled with or without religion.

being raised by religious assholes would be the worst!

it'd be interesting to know how many atheists were raised in a faith, by non-assholes, to then reject it.

likewise religious people raised by non-assholes who were atheists...

personally i think this is the nub of the discussion, and headscarves are just a somewhat distractive step on the way to that realisation.

2c

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kids always model unconscious attitudes more than conscious platitudes.

That's why any kind of authoritarianism is dangerous - it's not the specific beliefs, it's the process, and the fact that it sets the emotional template for relationships in later life.

One of the biggest issues in the west is that after three hundred years of secularism the political power of the churches has been substantially diminished.

But aside from the partial efforts of Marx, who was basically a frustrated industrialist, there has been no equivalent on-the-nail critique of industrial capitalism.

It's not that one isn't possible (probably), it's that it's so easy to distract progressives into minor side oppressions, and lose focus on the bigger picture.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:48:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
One of the biggest issues in the west is that after three hundred years of secularism the political power of the churches has been substantially diminished.

but much of the social good churches do still goes on, re feeding the poor, rallying after tragedies etc.

good that their political power is in decline, as long as their value is acknowledged as much as any other form of do-goodership.

religion encapsulates our first fumbling attempts to comprehend our cosmos, and for some it still serves that purpose, not the medieval trivia of angels on pins but how to conceptualise eternity, infinity, the void and such, the inneffable, the unmeasureable.

while doing so it untapped great poetry, painting, sculpture and music, as it (however errantly) does look beyond the veils, both inside and outside ourselves.

to the rational materialist that might seem like time and energy wasted, (better spent seeking cancer cures or perpetual motion) but to the seeker this the opposite, seeking meaning in the often crushing banality of modern existence is the only thing that makes life bearable!

religion becomes problematic when it conflates with politics.

.... but state atheism has a equally ruthless track record.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:03:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not the medieval trivia of angels on pins

Sorry, but you seem to have fallen for an Enlightenment slander (like the belief that educated people used to believe in a flat earth). I once wondered what were the numbers that they suggested, but they seem only to have discussed whether they had corporeal bodies (and hence the number would have been finite), or whether not (in which case the number could be infinite).

Rather disappointingly, they seemed to think that the number being infinite settled it, where I was hoping they would try to work out the cardinality: for example, if they could argue (no idea how, but presumably from Scripture) that the angels all had names, taken from a finite alphabet, then the number would be recursively enumerable, but they didn't even go that far.

Physicists have come up with a different answer:

According to Thomas Aquinas, it is impossible for two distinct causes to each be the immediate cause of one and the same thing. An angel is a good example of such a cause. Thus two angels cannot occupy the same space. This can be seen as an early statement of the Pauli exclusion principle. (The Pauli exclusion principle is a pillar of modern physics. It was first stated in the twentieth century, by Pauli.)

[...]

We have derived quantum gravity bounds on the number of angels that can dance on the tip of a needle as a function of the mass of the angels. The maximal number of angels -- 8.6766*10exp49 -- is achieved near the critical mass mcrit>1/kD �3.8807*10-34 kg, corresponding to the transition from the information-limited to the mass-limited regime. It is interesting to note that this is of the same order of magnitude as the Schewe bound.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:44:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is interesting to note that this is of the same order of magnitude as the Schewe bound.

Proof of the existence of God!!!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 01:41:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
A further issue you don't seem to be taking into account is that a lot of personal views expressed here aren't inspired by the viewpoint of an atheist teacher but the viewpoint of a one-time child who suffered through the 'teaching' of theist parents or school teachers.

"Inspired" is beautifully put. How am I to deal with views expressed on religion that in reality are views on abuse? Is it really asked too much of the authors to make clear what statement is inspired by what? I reject the notion that religion, not persons enforcing dogma or exploiting positions of trust, is abusive. And I reject the notion that embracing religion is the same (or related to) child abuse, forcing children, and what other insiuations have been made.

DoDo:

Now, what is your opinion about the political parallel? Would you approve of Free Democrat schools, Sunday instruction of six-year-olds in the basic tenets of Social Democracy at the local party headquarters, and the same children wearing party insignia to school? Should voting age be eliminated? Why should parties be more constrained than religion?

I think beliefs can be sorted by how close they are to the core of one's personality. Some political beliefs are overarching mere party politics, for instance the importance human rights have (or property rights). We all probably radiate our deeply held political beliefs anyway. I would recommend a bit of restraint in the case of party politics, but I don't think it is vital or should be enforced. Can you really object if some members of a party meet in order to organise something and take their little children? Probably not, but where is (realistically!) the difference between that and "Sunday instruction of six-year-olds in the basic tenets of Social Democracy at the local party headquarters"? By the way, I used to wear a SPD jacket (gift of my mother) to school, although there was (and is) a ban on party insignia in school. They couldn't very well undress me, so they rang up my parents who promised to remind me not to wear the thing to school. Which they did, and I ignored. The more hysterical the reactions became, the more I enjoyed it. And the sky did not fall down. I would even have joined the SPD if they had allowed under 16 year olds. By the time I was sixteen I had acquired enough political wisdom and no longer wanted to, so perhaps having such a minimum age makes sense (but not much).

When Merkel wanted to get out of the exit from nuclear power (before Fukushima), I took part in many protests. My daughter, then 10, asked me to explain what I did and why and then declared she wanted to accompany me. What would you have told her?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 10:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As an aside, the Swedish Greens does not have an age limit. This was recently questioned - by other members that lost a vote or some such - after a party meeting where they youngest voting member was eight (I think).

Thinking about it, I don't know if any of the Pirate parties has age limits, but I have met an outspoken and convinced thirteen year old activist. If anyone is worrying about parental indoctrination, rest assured that the parents rarely agrees with their kids pirate views.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 10:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
teaching them your beliefs is not identical to teaching them to adopt your beliefs uncritically.

modeling is not indoctrination, attachment to them emulating your religious beliefs may be a good definition of it though.

not too many kids hold a grudge about their parents 'lying' to them about santa.

i imagine a child who chooses to move on from parents' belief-systems would be similarly untraumatised unless the modeling became indoctrination along the line. the world has many in the latter category, filling countless websites with the traumas they endure...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 11:34:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Elsewhere you say that beliefs are not a private matter for you. That is congruous with the threatening position of that Catholic scholar. Do you agree with him that religious groups may (if they can) force their "language" onto everyone rather than agreeing to some "public reason"?

We are really talking about discriminatory practices. Religious persons tend to take verbal heat (or just a non-believer stance) soon as offensive, while closing eyes to proportions of bullying practices. It does not matter much if those practices are officially institutionalized. That bullying is widespread reality, consistent religious sensitivity if you like. Eager equivalence with USSR is not excusing, nor even impressive.

By the way, burqa absence in Kabul is not to the credit of the Communist regime (established in 1978). The movie Kite Runner plays on the liberal/fundamentalist contrast of Afghanistan as well.    

by das monde on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:29:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When Katrin insists on belief as a public matter, she means cases like religious groups participating in peace, anti-nuclear or anti-fascist or pro-democracy protests, promoting conscientious objection or disarmament. While you may ask how this can be separated from advocacy of bans on abortion and gay marriage and so on, the same can also be said of parties and non-religious NGOs.

On the other hand, as I indicated downthread, I do have the impression that across Europe, religious activism in public life is overwhelmingly, almost exclusively of the anti-liberal, reactionary kind. (Even in Germany, Bavaria is not the same as the northern plains.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder where we would be if the churches didn't oppose cloning humans or manipulating human genes for "optimisation" and the like. I for one am grateful about that. The downside is (not necessarily, but in reality) an anti-liberal stance on abortion and reproductive health of women. I can put up with that, because I value the possibility to find a consensus and not to have deep antagonism.

No, I really wouldn't say "almost exclusively of the anti-liberal, reactionary kind". There are always facets even of the most anti-liberal and reactionary stance that are useful and important.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 11:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
There are always facets even of the most anti-liberal and reactionary stance that are useful and important.

<racks brain>

such as, bitte?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 11:50:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Take abortion, for example. Nobody is for abortion, so there is no real conflict. Reactionaries tend to be against freedom of choice though. They are (in most countries) in a minority position with that, so that's no way for them to reduce the number of abortions. They can--if they want to be taken seriously--join us in making sure that abortions don't happen for material reasons or reasons of discrimination. So, create a society that cares for children, all of them. With financial support and with a culture of warm welcome for every child, including the most despised ones, the mentally disabled. Shouldn't our activist against abortion join us in embracing all humanity? I have met very conservative persons who are prepared to go this way. Organisations advocating rights of the disabled are full of them. The others have at least egg in their faces. One cannot really lose that way.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, good points.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder where we would be if the churches didn't oppose cloning humans or manipulating human genes for "optimisation" and the like.

Indeed. There are subjects where a bit of conservatism is a good thing.

I wonder why the churches didn't oppose genetic engineering in general? Oh, I guess that animals, having no souls, and plants, only exist in order to meet the needs of Man, who is of divine essence. So it's OK to play god with them.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 12:12:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, had to go and search for religious leaders and opinions.

Jubilee of the Agricultural World

4. The Church obviously has no "technical" solutions to offer. Her contribution is at the level of Gospel witness and is expressed in proposing the spiritual values that give meaning to life and guidance for practical decisions, including at the level of work and the economy.

Without doubt, the most important value at stake when we look at the earth and at those who work is the principle that brings the earth back to her Creator:  the earth belongs to God! It must therefore be treated according to his law. If, with regard to natural resources, especially under the pressure of industrialization, an irresponsible culture of "dominion" has been reinforced with devastating ecological consequences, this certainly does not correspond to God's plan. "Fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air" (Gn 1: 28). These famous words of Genesis entrust the earth to man's use, not abuse. They do not make man the absolute arbiter of the earth's governance, but the Creator's "co-worker":  a stupendous mission, but one which is also marked by precise boundaries that can never be transgressed with impunity.

This is a principle to be remembered in agricultural production itself, whenever there is a question of its advance through the application of biotechnologies, which cannot be evaluated solely on the basis of immediate economic interests. They must be submitted beforehand to rigorous scientific and ethical examination, to prevent them from becoming disastrous for human health and the future of the earth.

So, popes precautionary principle?

Oh, and I found this one that appears to have done the search for me:

BMC International Health and Human Rights | Full text | The three main monotheistic religions and gm food technology: an overview of perspectives

The article establishes that there is no overarching consensus within the three religions. Overall, however, it appears that mainstream theology in all three religions increasingly tends towards acceptance of GM technology per se, on performing GM research, and on consumption of GM foods. These more liberal approaches, however, are predicated on there being rigorous scientific, ethical and regulatory scrutiny of research and development of such products, and that these products are properly labeled.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 12:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware it was the churches opposing those things, so much as the medical profession and a sceptical public.

Big pharma knows that if it tries to engineer human emrbyos and something goes wrong - which it probably will - the public's instinct for disgust would never forgive them.

As for GM - it's hardly as important as gay sex or dress codes, now is it?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 01:32:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you sure you are aware of religious stances on gay sex or on dress codes?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the UK the Anglican Church, which is positively fluffy compared to the Catholic Church, practically imploded over gay marriage.

So yes, I'm fairly sure that I am aware of the religious stance on gay sex - the majority one, anyway.

As usual you miss the point, which is that gay sex is morally trivial compared to species survival, human predation, and a culture of abuse and violence.

But for whatever reason it's a persistent obsession with the vast majority of religious followers in the West and elsewhere - far more so than it is among the non-religious.

Do you have an explanation for that?

Something more insightful than 'Well, I don't agree personally' could be interesting.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 06:13:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
As usual you miss the point, which is that gay sex is morally trivial compared to species survival, human predation, and a culture of abuse and violence.

 but it might be a consequential key to the dissolution of the latter, as in if that can change so relatively rapidly (and dramatically), then maybe the others can too.

actually, as you know, they have to!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 09:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
As usual you miss the point, which is that gay sex is morally trivial compared to species survival, human predation, and a culture of abuse and violence.

As usual you miss the point of what human rights are: they can't be divided into trivial and not trivial.

ThatBritGuy:

Do you have an explanation for that?

Sure. They concern family relations. In an industrial society without unemployment and with public welfare you are free to choose your family relations and to give them up again, because they are not vital for physical survival. In a society that is not yet industrialised or in a industrial society that is falling apart sexual relations must be strictly regulated to stabilise family relations that carry economic meaning. Immigrants bring pre-capitalist values that disregard personal freedom, the rising fascist movements fight personal freedom too. And on ET I am told that this is either trivial, or that the way out is fighting the personal freedom of immigrants (and they can't complain, because "try and open a pub in Saudi Arabia", eh?)

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual you miss the point of what human rights are: they can't be divided into trivial and not trivial.

Unless they're atheist rights, in which case they're 'sectarian' - and therefore not actually rights, but privileges.

Oh - and for context, I'm still not understanding why religious people need to obsesses about gay sex when the planet is dying, and they could be obsessing about that instead, to rather greater effect.

In a society that is not yet industrialised or in a industrial society that is falling apart sexual relations must be strictly regulated to stabilise family relations that carry economic meaning.

And how does this explain the continuing obsession with Teh Gay and sexual morality among the majority of religious people in countries that do have a welfare state, and have had one for a good few generations?

At best you can say there's a bit of a context problem happening there.

Incidentally, when I say 'morally trivial' I mean - obviously - that (e.g.) gay marriage doesn't exercise the imaginations of non-religious people to anything like the extent it exercises those of the religious.

If it's not morally trivial in this culture - i.e. self-evidently a non-issue that shouldn't even need to be debated among civilised people - it's almost entirely due to the strenuous efforts of our established religions, not because yours truly thinks it's not that important actually.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 07:57:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Unless they're atheist rights, in which case they're 'sectarian' - and therefore not actually rights, but privileges.

This is offensive. I have never said anything like what you put into my mouth there. You make that up.

ThatBritGuy:

Oh - and for context, I'm still not understanding why religious people need to obsesses about gay sex when the planet is dying, and they could be obsessing about that instead, to rather greater effect.

So far I have understood you in the way that you oppose religious communities to conduct marriages of gays, they should fight the climate change instead. So you are not opposed to gay sex, inside or outside civil or religious marriage. How nice, a point of agreement. When religious people obsess about gay sex, as you deplore, why is that worse than non-religious people obsessing about gay sex?

ThatBritGuy:

And how does this explain the continuing obsession with Teh Gay and sexual morality among the majority of religious people in countries that do have a welfare state, and have had one for a good few generations?

You may not have noticed, but the welfare state is in danger. That might explain some obsession of the non-religious and the religious.

I doubt very much that it is a majority, though. Official Catholic doctrine is "obsessing", but who cares? "Majority" implies that this is uncontroversial. In Germany the Catholic Church has just commissioned a poll on sexual mores, and found out that its members find the official views on sex and partnership irrelevant. Detailed results are kept secret, though. I wouldn't be surprised if the attitudes in other European countries were the same, but I have no data for them. You obviously have, because you made the claim. Why don't you share your data?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 09:32:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Detailed results are kept secret, though.

haha.

churches should perhaps face the fact that people need churches for totally dissimilar reasons then the ones projected on them by the churchmen, ie a peaceful place to meditate, a social nexus, and a refuge for the desperate, rather than a place to soak up dogma and unquestioned 'Higher Truth'.

right now those secret results scream institutional denial.

but let's not forget this thread was about protecting young moslem girls from authoritarian states, not religion in toto. sorry for the intellectual drift!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 11:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is offensive. I have never said anything like what you put into my mouth there. You make that up.

Sigh...

You used the word 'sectarian'. You also used words like 'privilege' and 'Stalinist.' It's in the archives.

If you don't want to people to quote your own words back to you, don't say this stuff. It's not rocket science.

You may not have noticed, but the welfare state is in danger. That might explain some obsession of the non-religious and the religious.

With the welfare state, yes. With gay marriage - huh? Are you saying people believe gay marriage will undermine free healthcare or their pension plan?

In Germany the Catholic Church has just commissioned a poll on sexual mores, and found out that its members find the official views on sex and partnership irrelevant. Detailed results are kept secret, though. I wouldn't be surprised if the attitudes in other European countries were the same, but I have no data for them. You obviously have, because you made the claim. Why don't you share your data?

There's a useful survey here: YouGov poll.

Generally members are more liberal than leaders, which is interesting in itself. Also:

The section of religious people most opposed to same-sex marriage is made up of those who both (a) believe in God with certainty and (b) make decisions primarily on the basis of explicit religious sources  - God, scriptures, teachings and religious leaders. This `moral minority' of strict believers amounts to almost 9% of the population, and is spread across religious traditions, with a greater concentration among Baptists and Muslims.

Although in practice I'd suggest this boils down to 'liberals are liberal, non-liberals aren't.'

Wasn't the point originally that religious attitudes tend to lag secular ones rather than lead them, and that if you embed religious attitudes in a secular culture they will eventually become less extreme? I do believe it was.

I have no idea what European-wide attitudes are. I doubt it's possible to generalise when - for example - Poland is staunchly Catholic, while Finland very much isn't.

I look forward to further responses that tell me I'm disgusting and full of shit, by the way. Have you considered that perhaps name-calling is not the most persuasive of tactics in this context?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 02:22:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
You used the word 'sectarian'. You also used words like 'privilege' and 'Stalinist.' It's in the archives.

Yes, but I did not use them for saying what you say I said.

ThatBritGuy:

With gay marriage - huh? Are you saying people believe gay marriage will undermine free healthcare or their pension plan?

I am saying that family gets a significance that it had already lost. People will depend more on family than they used to. Ask all those young people in Greece and Spain why they are still living with their parents. My generation will get a very low pension, much lower than what my parents had. Right wing ideologies emphasising family relations do make sense when the social net is cut. Successful ideological strategies always connect somehow with real fears or interests.

ThatBritGuy:

Generally members are more liberal than leaders, which is interesting in itself.

That contradicts your claim that "the majority of religious people" was obsessed against gays, doesn't it?

ThatBritGuy:

I have no idea what European-wide attitudes are. I doubt it's possible to generalise when - for example - Poland is staunchly Catholic, while Finland very much isn't.

Good. Then it would be very helpful if you no longer claimed to know the attitudes of "the majority of religious people".

ThatBritGuy:

I look forward to further responses that tell me I'm disgusting and full of shit, by the way. Have you considered that perhaps name-calling is not the most persuasive of tactics in this context?

I have considered a lot, and perhaps you noticed that for a few days I didn't answer any of your posts at all. There is not much I can do with a person who twists everything I say. I have run out of persuasive tactics in this case: the written language of our posts is the only means of communication we have here. If that is twisted, what can one do? By the way, before you develop the next variant of twisting of posts: I did not call you disgusting or full of shit. I called your posts that.

You entered this discussion (on the previous thread) shrugging off the human rights violations Muslims face in Europe with "try and open a pub in Saudi Arabia", which I find atrocious enough (if it really needs pointing out why: you are entitled to human rights no matter if your government violates them.) And you went on by twisting the meaning of every post of mine. No I have never demanded any privileges for the religious or religious organisations. I demand that we aren't disadvantaged though. You have made clear that religious freedom does not exist for you.

Your behaviour is not that of "everyone" here. I have quarrelled with Jake and Eurogreen, and there was unfairness on both sides. I am sorry about that, but I don't know any way how I could have avoided it except by not raising the topic, and I no longer wanted that. Your behaviour, claiming over and over again that I say what in reality I never said, is different and it is offensive. No, I don't think I am treating you unfairly. I understand that you had some very unwholesome experience and generalise, but it is really nothing I am responsible for.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 03:55:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Sure. They concern family relations. In an industrial society without unemployment and with public welfare you are free to choose your family relations and to give them up again, because they are not vital for physical survival. In a society that is not yet industrialised or in a industrial society that is falling apart sexual relations must be strictly regulated to stabilise family relations that carry economic meaning. Immigrants bring pre-capitalist values that disregard personal freedom

Very true and cogent.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 10:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You aren't going to suggest a new ban on any clothes, I hope?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 10:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously, Eurogreen, how do you set out to change attitudes if you have a minority that has brought values that are rejected (or at least considered not quite) in their new home? Even if you don't agree with the human rights angle, and only look what can be successful?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 02:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You start by making sure everyone - and that means everyone, even the gangbanger with a rap sheet longer than most people's arms - can get an honest job at an honest wage, and a roof over their head for a reasonable sum somewhere near reliable public transportation.

Then you make sure everyone has free and equal access to education, and that all kids are taught basic reading, writing, arithmetic and a bit of science and history.

If the problem persists after that, then we will hopefully have a clearer idea of what the actual problem is, because right now a large fraction of the problem is "disenfranchised underclass subculture."

There very probably still will be a problem, but solving that problem is non-trivial, so let's solve the trivial problems first.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 03:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. Can we have a ban on pleated skirts too?

Seriously though: whatever real problems there are with immigrants who might import sorts of illiberalism that the natives do not already hold, they won't be solved in a climate of disrespect and humiliation.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if you don't agree with the human rights angle

I would prefer to say : "even if we don't agree on the human rights angle".

The right to wear what your parents want you to wear in school vs the right to experience inclusion in a wider, undifferentiated community.

I have no idea if you agree with, or have understood, my arguments about school as sanctuary, as enabler of choices; because you have taken great care to never acknowledge them. (Do you think your arguments would be weakened if you recognised those of others?)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 03:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
I would prefer to say : "even if we don't agree on the human rights angle".

That's perfectly okay with me.

I understand your argument about school as a sanctuary, as enabler of choices. It just happens to hinge on seeing all girls with headscarves as victims of parental force/pressure/sinister influence. Your argument denies the girls agency. Girls who wish to wear a headscarf simply don't exist in your argument.

You solely focus on girls who are made to wear it against their will. Okay to throw you a bone, let's focus on them. Probably this group of girls exists. The parents who do so have a range of motives, from certain views on the role of women to an emphasis on cultural roots in their country of origin, and perhaps even what seems to drive you: a fundamental enmity to the French state. Okay, to throw you more bones, let's assume that the nexus between headscarf and enmity of the state exists. You want to fight what exactly? A headscarf, not enmity to the state. You really must explain that.

Now let's focus not on the parents, but on the girls: Even for the group of girls who are made to wear a headscarf I don't see any advantage in a confrontation on one piece of clothing between school and parents. It disregards the psychological needs of children, even those who really are abused. If you can't respect the parents, the children can't develop self-respect. Children will almost always choose to side with their parents if you choose confrontation.

And could you explain why girls forced to wear headscarves are entitled to more sanctuary than girls forced to wear pleated skirts? I'd really like an answer to that. If your aim is supporting girls against oppressive parents, why only Muslim girls (who in their majority are immigrants)?

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 06:28:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It just happens to hinge on seeing all girls with headscarves as victims of parental force/pressure/sinister influence. Your argument denies the girls agency. Girls who wish to wear a headscarf simply don't exist in your argument.

There is, obviously, no reliable way of knowing how much compulsion is involved, and how much is free choice (if it were possible to survey the proportion of scarf-wearing girls whose mothers don't wear one, that would be an indication). But my argument doesn't hinge on that at all. Nor does it focus on a denial of state authority by the parents. It's about enabling an environment where a girl's worth is not defined by wearing a headscarf or not, and where nobody has a right to make assumptions about her sexuality depending on whether her hair is visible or not. By extension, it is an environment where she is equal to boys, rather than subordinate to them. My opinion is that, in terms of human rights, this experience outweighs the fact that they are unable to choose their headwear freely.

As for "choosing confrontation" : once the crisis is past (in 2004/5, in France), the situation is normalised and internalised by all. Girls respect the rules at school. Which is not to say that they, or their parents, are necessarily happy about it. I takes two to choose confrontation; and once parents have understood that the rules will not change, by and large they live with it.

(what, exactly, do "pleated skirts" symbolize to you, in terms of ideology, implications about women's role in life etc? Also, what subset of girls, in which country/subculture, are forced to wear them? I'm curious.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 06:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
There is, obviously, no reliable way of knowing how much compulsion is involved,

Exactly. This doesn't show in your words though, where you always assume compulsion, not free will.

It's your theory that the headscarf is necessarily about a girl's "worth" or assumptions about her sexuality (sexual behaviour). Sometimes it is a statement about her regional roots or a statement of defiance in the face of discrimination. More often it is a statement on sexuality in the sense of physical integrity. Even where it is a statement about restricting women's roles, this message does not need the headscarf (or the pleated skirt in my childhood which symbolised exactly that). Parents who teach their daughters that their place in life is a subordinated one, may choose to impose certain clothes, but these clothes are only a symptom).

My point with the pleated skirts is that the same sexist views that you say you fight by a ban on headscarves exist among the natives too. You still choose to fight the headscarf, and that makes your message morph to something like "sexism is a Muslim problem." That is not only playing into the hands of Islamophobes (I hope I have found a wording that doesn't make you explode again) but into those of native sexists too.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 07:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem about your "pleated skirts" mantra is that it is meaningless to me. I now imagine that if I went to a high school in your region, I could identify the girls who are repressed by their Christian parents? Is that right?

Parents who teach their daughters that their place in life is a subordinated one, may choose to impose certain clothes,

Good to see we agree on that!
but these clothes are only a symptom

They are clearly understood as such. My point is that it is legitimate to ban such "symptoms" from school, because they are harmful to a girl's development.

Or is a constant reminder of one's subordinate status a good thing? I fear it may provoke cognitive dissonance, in a school environment where a subordinate status with respect to males is neither required nor approved of.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 09:09:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you deny that there are "western" dress codes that are imposed where parents impose certain--subordinate--role models? From the pleated skirts of my childhood (and long afterwards. The shop that catered for parents like mine changed ownership in 1998) to the pink Princess-stuff or Barbie stuff: the same thing, only more varied according to class.
eurogreen:
Or is a constant reminder of one's subordinate status a good thing?

You don't take the point that the ban of clothes typical of immigrants is a reminder of immigrants' subordinate status, do you? The debate, and the ban,is only about the headscarf of the immigrants, not the clothes the natives use for similar purposes. I note that the moment these clothes come into the focus you try the next externalisation "girls who are repressed by their Christian parents?" No, girls who are repressed by their "western culture" parents, and who, depending on class background, can be identified by their clothes from pleated skirts to Barbie stuff. I should think a ban on immigrants' clothes in a school environment where a subordinate status with respect to natives is neither required nor approved of.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 10:57:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't take the point that the ban of clothes typical of immigrants is a reminder of immigrants' subordinate status, do you?

A reminder to whom? Not to an independent observer, because the girls become indistinguishable from their classmates.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 11:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. No visible difference between native French and immigrants? Really not?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 04:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(I wondered if you'd take the bait...)

A large plurality of French Moslems of North African origin are Berbers, i.e. of European rather than Arab type. A large proportion of the others fall well within the range of skin tones etc of "native" French people. Add to that the fact that, in places where some women of North African origin wear headscarves, there are also large numbers of non-headscarf wearing North African women.

So, indistinguishable from their classmates. Really.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, obviously, no reliable way of knowing how much compulsion is involved, and how much is free choice

Actually, some of the articles quoted in this discussion interviewed fired girls who insisted on wearing hearscarves at school against the advice of their parents. Maybe in a link from Wikipedia I also read of an example from before the ban in the nineties when a girl became an obvious "born-again Muslim" fundie (the same way boys do), and even rejected a compromise offer allowing her to wear a headscarf but calling on her to attend science and physical exercise classes. This latter case indicates to me that there are other ways to identify forced or voluntary fundies than enforcing headscarf bans with zero distinctions and a threat of expulsion.

It's about enabling an environment where a girl's worth is not defined by wearing a headscarf or not, and where nobody has a right to make assumptions about her sexuality depending on whether her hair is visible or not.

That sounds nice, but by having headscarf-wearers expulsed, the ban assuming all of them to be proselytizing fundies, and switches the onus of neutrality from the state to the citizen (perhaps you missed this).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 08:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, choose your anecdata. Obviously, those who considered the headscarf ban an important human rights issue found articulate, outspoken girls who chose to wear a headscarf (or chose to defend it, once it became an issue, whatever their original reason for wearing it). The fact that it was easy to find such cases naturally leads the journalist or blogger (who has a narrative to tell) that this is the prevalent situation.

But consider : those girls who wear scarves because that's what is expected, and what the family wants, are also expected to not put themselves forward, because it's not their place to be in the limelight.

So you get a self-selecting sample, which can not be expected to be representative.

(perhaps you missed this)

No, I must have read it a dozen times since it was published ten years ago.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I or the article claimed that one example is the prevalent situation. The reason I brought it up was to counter your impression of an exclusive or all-prevalent situation (which was free of any data, anecdotal or not).

I must have read it a dozen times

Yet you ignore it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 07:33:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I neither made nor implied any such claim; on the contrary, I made it clear that, regardless of the different motives that might have inspired girls to want to wear scarves in school, their education would be better served by not wearing it. And that this is within the purview of the schools.

And yes, I remain unpersuaded by the writer's thesis. Sure, the spirit of the law of 2004 is not the same as that of the law of 1905; times have changed. The question was seen as stopping a snowballing situation (the holiest girls wear scarves, others are shamed into joining them...) which ends up with a strongly proselytizing effect.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 09:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you can't respect the parents, the children can't develop self-respect. Children will almost always choose to side with their parents if you choose confrontation.

That runs counter to the personal experience of some of my childhood friends. So I'm going to ask you to prove it. With data.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 01:36:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What sort of data do you expect? You can't compare the psychological impact of teacher X's confrontative behaviour towards parent Y with that same teacher X's behaviour towards the same parent, but now in cooperative style. You can only research the situation in certain schools before and after you run a programme teaching teachers to establish cooperation with parents. If you are really interested, I could probably recommend books (in German mainly), both with the angle of teachers' cooperation with parents of pupils, and not unrelated, cooperation between social parents and birth parents. Here respect towards the birth parents is even more vital for the children's self-respect (and more difficult to maintain).

If your childhood friends say something else, I wonder how old they were when the confrontation took place. And did they tell you about it with the distance of adulthood or then, as youngsters compelled to be "cool"?

by Katrin on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 05:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody in my circle of childhood friends labored under any particularly burdensome standard of "being cool." And their parents had lost their respect all by themselves.

Yes, there are kids who side with their parents and don't think there's any problem.

There are also kids who put on a brave face and make the best of what they realize is a shit situation.

And then there are also kids who put on a brave face because their experience with society's institutions is that the first, and often only, response is to make mouth-noises at the abusive parent, instead of actually solving the problem.

I don't know which of those three groups is the more prevalent, and it is probably different for different age brackets. But then, I'm not the one who makes blanket statements about the reaction of the vast majority of kids.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:20:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't answer my question about age. I can absolutely not fathom at which point of child psychology you disagree or if you simply aren't conversant with attachment theory. Or is your question not meant as nomothetically as it sounds? You baffle me, and I have no idea which sort of material ("data") you need. I was NOT talking about "kids who side with their parents" or "kids who put on a brave face". Additionally you seem to be talking about social services not intervening in cases of abuse. Did you notice that I was discussing HOW social services should intervene in cases of abuse? What do you know about bonding in childhood and adolescence?
by Katrin on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 08:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can absolutely not fathom at which point of child psychology you disagree

I disagree with a lot of points about child psychology as practiced, and I find most of the little psychological theory I have read to be an equal mix of common sense and nonsense, wrapped in far too much polysyllabic jargon.

I also have some difficulty relating the theory-as-written to the actual practice.

And in both theory and practice I far too often for my comfort find myself unimpressed with the answers to simple questions like "do you have any evidence for that?"

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two official languages in the UK ?

No, there are four. In Wales, it is Welsh. In Scotland it is Scottish Gaelic (pron Gallic) and in Ulster it is Irish Gaelic (pron Gay-lick).

But these languages are not recognised at all in other parts of the UK, especially England. However, given the number of immigrants in the UK, many of whom have problems being understood or understanding english, official help is available for many other languages.

Also, the second language of the UK is that non-english language most spoken by people who live here, which changes over time. Right now it's Polish, but that can change.

Also, it's worth noting that English is itself a movable feast. BBC English, aka "reported speech", is not that common. I can speak it, but I usually speak "Estuary", which is a degenerate slang form of reported. The further north you go, the more the English become infected with Scandanavian, by the time you reach the North East, the local idiomatic English is closer to Beowulf than Shakespeare and quie impenetrable to me.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 03:43:49 PM EST
My passport only has three of these. They don't even have Irish in the small print translations into all EU languages (including bad Italian: Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna de Irlanda del Nord).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Feb 2nd, 2014 at 05:00:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I say, it all depends where you which language is recognised.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:07:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
((and what language was that??))

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - On Minority Rights and on Beliefs
Is that consensus here, that our beliefs and ethical norms carry the same weight than the rules of games? Or is that only the case when these beliefs are informed by religion? Do ET'ers demand an atheist privilege?

First, the obvious strawman : "atheist privilege". I'm pretty sure nobody among us calls for this (I'm not sure if such a thing has ever existed. Perhaps in the soviet bloc or in Mao's China, but how would it be distinguishable from religious persecution?)

Likewise, I'm sure nobody here espouses religious persecution either. From the point of view of someone who advocates religious privilege, it is no doubt easy to perceive opposing views as religious persecution, but it's fairly easy to test the logic of such assertions.

About "beliefs and ethical norms". It is imperative to seperate the two concepts. Beliefs are a private matter; that is the beginning and end of it for me. Ethical norms are harder, and they are eminently political. Beliefs are a private matter (see above), but often inform people's ethical norms. Religious groups will inevitably lobby legislators, and there is no reason to forbid this (other than in the framework of general regulation of lobbying), but they should be treated with a fair amount of scepticism : for example, if in Portugal a large majority profess Catholicism, and the Catholic church is against abortion, this gives no mandate to the Catholic church to forbid abortion. In other words, the concept of abortion as a sin should carry no weight in public matters; legislators should decide on the basis of whether a majority of citizens wish to grant the right to abort.

Freedom of religion is a combination of two basic freedoms : the freedom of belief and the freedom of association. Anything else accorded in the name of religion is religious privilege. Katrin comes down clearly on the side of religious privilege through her rejection of equal status between religious groups and role-players. We need to examine what this distinction means to her in practice.

If some LARPers sequester and torture other LARPers in the woods for several days, they might argue that this is part of the rules of the game that everyone signed up to, but that would not be consired a valid legal defense -- on the contrary, probably it would be considered an aggravating factor. Katrin has clearly expressed the same point with respect to religion : it can not be used as an excuse for acts which violate ethical norms determined by society at large through the political process.

Sequestration, genital mutilation of minors, paedophilia, mind control (a few examples) are not specific to religious groups : they show up wherever people are able to exercise unchecked domination on their fellow humans (notably within families with no religious alibis), and should be vigourously repressed by the authorities. We surely all agree on that. History demonstrates that religious groups, in particular, will resist outside intrusion in their affairs. So enforcement of ethical norms requires a degree of transparency and co-operation from religious groups which is rarely spontaneously forthcoming. There are two distinct issues : practices which may conform to the ethical norms of the religious group but which are reproved by the social and legal concensus; and the abuses that invariably arise in groups which are closed to outside scrutiny.

[continues...]

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 04:48:45 AM EST
[continued]

So, once you take away the potential for human rights abuses under cover of religion, what is the nature of religious privilege that Katrin is defending?

The obvious issue I can see is the economic one. In various European countries, special privileges are granted to established churches : subsidies; salaries of clergy paid by the state; taxes collected on behalf of churches; and most importantly, fiscal advantages.

In 1995, France decided the Church of Scientology was not a recognised religion. This affected their tax status, severely impacting their business model. This is clearly religious persecution : it's plain that most members of that church believe in the doctrines; surely it's neither provable nor material whether the hierarchy is merely in it for the money? (I'm quite sure that there are cardinals who don't believe in God; and after all, it's a matter of individual conscience...)

Recognition of a religion in France is the exclusive prerogative of the Minister of the Interior. This is entirely arbitrary, of course; but how could an "objective" mechanism for recognition of religions work?

The treatment of the church of scientology is religious persecution because of differential treatment of religions in France. This can be remedied by treating all constituted religious groups as friendly societies = non-profit organisations (though the granting of non-profit status should be subject to audit : Scientology is taxed as a business in France, probably justifiably).

The main visible consequence of this in France would be the liquidation of a large amount of under-used prime urban real estate (because the Catholic church would be unable or unwilling to pay the property taxes etc). This would require the state to pre-empt a lot of this property, on grounds of historical conservation.

Here we get to another aspect of religious persecution in France (your mileage may vary in your respective countries). It is objectively obvious that adherents of Catholicism, the historically hegemonic religion (and to a lesser extent, adherents of historic French Protestantism and of Judaism, intermittently persecuted in the past) have a great deal of religious privilege, in that they have at their disposal a huge array of magnificent places of worship (for Catholics, it's literally hard to be out of walking distance of one).  Whereas adherents of other creeds have no such privilege.

For Moslems, they face all sorts of systematic obstruction to building mosques. For evangelical Protestant congregations, which are often predominantly poor immigrants, the need to finance their places of worship themselves leads to frequent health and safety problems (buildings overloaded, floors collapsing...)

The obvious solution, to me, is to accord a limited and even-handed form of religious privilege : those historically religious buildings which are state property (mostly those acquired from the Catholic church) should be put at the disposal of religious congregations, stricly for religious practice [no moneychanging hands in the temple!] in proportion to the number of actual churchgoers who turn up (thus finessing the delicate question of census of religious beliefs, which is forbidden in France).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:48:53 AM EST
When you talk about "the nature of religious privilege that Katrin is defending", are you referring to earlier discussion? Because the only religious privilege discussed in the diary (if any) is to wear clothes deviating from current local fashion. Furthermore, to me it seems that Katrin isn't talking about a universal right/privilege of religious people, but one specifically of religious minorities, as a defence against a persecution that singles out their religious practice while ignoring parallel practices of a majority (or larger or older minority) religion.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:15:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm specifically referring to her apparent disagreement with Jake's statement :

When "but my religion says" is an argument that carries more weight than "but the rules of our LARP are," then you have religious privilege.

I'm trying to explore the parameters of that disagreement. In past discussions, I haven't managed to get a clear idea of what exemptions, concessions or privileges Katrin believes should be extended, relative to agreed or imposed societal ethical norms, to individual citizens or groups on grounds of religious belief or identification.

I would like to clarify this somewhat before going on to the question of dress. Insofar as I have been routinely accused of religious intolerance or worse in past discussions, I prefer to be prudent in this one.

Personally I see some degree of religious privilege as inevitable, for historical and cultural reasons, and perhaps even desirable, but only on condition of a level playing field. I'm sure Jake will disagree with me, and assert the right for congregations of LARPers to claim a church building for their practices.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:16:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the churches would have to be maintained anyway, as they are buildings of historical, cultural and architectural significance, quite apart from their doctrinal use. Demolishing, or neglecting, historical sites just because they are sites of historical religious practice is Not Cool.

Given that the building is there anyway, it would be downright petty to not let people use it. I'll even argue that religious groups have a seniority claim on the time slots usually used for their religious observance.

What annoys me is when religious groups demand exclusivity in their access to these buildings. I see no reason a publicly owned church (and the buildings in question are mostly churches) should only be used for Sunday mass and Saturday choir practice. Why not open it to Muslim Friday prayers, Jewish Sabbaths and rock concerts on Thursdays? Does death metal music from a Thursday concert really linger in the walls and give off disturbing miasmas that disrupt Sunday masses?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:04:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
First, the obvious strawman : "atheist privilege". I'm pretty sure nobody among us calls for this ...

I am not sure of that, and that is why I am asking. So, obviously not a strawman.

eurogreen:

... (I'm not sure if such a thing has ever existed.

And what has that to do with my question?

eurogreen:

Likewise, I'm sure nobody here espouses religious persecution either.

For the reasons given above I am not sure of that. And since you don't give any arguments to accompany your statement, that hasn't changed.
eurogreen:

From the point of view of someone who advocates religious privilege,

And who is that? Me?

eurogreen:

About "beliefs and ethical norms". It is imperative to seperate the two concepts.

Is that an order from the privileged position that you claim so cavalierly?

eurogreen:

Beliefs are a private matter; that is the beginning and end of it for me.

But not for me. But, since you claim atheist privilege, that won't interest you.

eurogreen:

Katrin comes down clearly on the side of religious privilege through her rejection of equal status between religious groups and role-players.

Are you talking about me and my position?

eurogreen:

Sequestration, genital mutilation of minors, paedophilia, mind control (a few examples) are not specific to religious groups

But for general propaganda purpose and to bring heat into the discussion it is a good idea to bring them up, or why else do you do that?

eurogreen:

So, once you take away the potential for human rights abuses under cover of religion, what is the nature of religious privilege that Katrin is defending?

You are a troll.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First, the obvious strawman : "atheist privilege". I'm pretty sure nobody among us calls for this ...
I am not sure of that, and that is why I am asking.
Katrin, since you brought this up yourself, what would "atheist privilege" be?

Saying "I should have special rights because I am an atheist"?

Where does that exist and who asks for it?

Enjoying implicit advantages for not being religious, and being unaware of those advantages and insensitive to the disadvantages experienced by religious people?

Where in Europe right now are "religious people" a discriminated or disadvantaged minority?

Islamophobia doesn't count, that's not blanket "religious people". And, if anything, what we still have in large parts of Europe is mainstream religion privilege. If you don't belong to the main religion of the country in question you find yourself at a disadvantage. Of course, as mainstream religion privilege is eroded, the privileged claim persecution.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:21:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:

Saying "I should have special rights because I am an atheist"?

Where does that exist and who asks for it?

In the wild it exists in an alliance with Islamophobes, and that is the dangerous variant. On ET there seems to be a variant aggressive against all religion and against anyone (even only occasionally!) arguing from a religously informed point.  

Migeru:

And, if anything, what we still have in large parts of Europe is mainstream religion privilege. If you don't belong to the main religion of the country in question you find yourself at a disadvantage.

I agree with that. These mainstream or majority religions aren't monolithic blocks though. It is a bit funny to get treated as if all church members had the same political opinions (and then I am not even a member, but hey...)

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Katrin, no personal insults or attacks will stand. Debate and criticize just the arguments eurogreen provides, or don't respond at all. I'll let your comment stand, but further commentary with personally directed assaults will be removed as swift as the gnomes can reach their pickaxes.

eurogreen, it's common courtesy around here to not troll-rate comments from people you argument with. That's were madness lies. Please no more troll-rating of Katrin -  NB that doesn't limit you to give positive ratings if so warranted.

Everyone, please respect the debating decorum at ET, this topic is inflammatory enough on its own.

by Bjinse on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:20:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that rating was my angry reaction at being called a troll (among other things). I am old enough to know not to hit the button in anger, and I apologise.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:59:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you really find that unfair, I apologise too, but then explain how it is not trolling to accuse me I was against equal status for all or that I was advocating religious privilege. I find these baseless accusations extremely unfair.  
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 01:45:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you know the solution to that. Explaining your position clearly when asked rather than insulting someone who is genuinely interested in learning and discussing it.

eurogreen:

Freedom of religion is a combination of two basic freedoms : the freedom of belief and the freedom of association. Anything else accorded in the name of religion is religious privilege. Katrin comes down clearly on the side of religious privilege through her rejection of equal status between religious groups and role-players. We need to examine what this distinction means to her in practice.

It seems you felt insulted by this paragraph, no doubt because I misinterpreted your unclear position. Again, I invite you to clarify why you think that beliefs and ethical norms informed by religion merit more respect or consideration in the public sphere than the rules of a game. If that is indeed what you think.

Your subsequent posts have made certain things clearer : in answer to Migeru, you agree that established religions in Europe benefit from religious privilege, and you don't seem to be in favour of it, as far as I can tell (or guess).

[And I couldn't find the bit where I accused you of being against equal status to all, so I won't try to respond to that]

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 03:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
Well, you know the solution to that. Explaining your position clearly when asked rather than insulting someone who is genuinely interested in learning and discussing it.

Ah. It would help if next time you don't understand my position, you ask, instead of putting words into my mouth. I am amazed by the idea that groups (any groups, not only religious ones) that develop and practice certain ethical norms and philosophies and participate in the public debate should have the same status as groups playing games. And it is insulting to hear that anything else was demanding "religious privilege". How many people have you hopping in the woodlands, eh?  

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
I am amazed by the idea that groups (any groups, not only religious ones) that develop and practice certain ethical norms and philosophies and participate in the public debate should have the same status as groups playing games. And it is insulting to hear that anything else was demanding "religious privilege". How many people have you hopping in the woodlands, eh?  

You're actually shifting the goalposts.

What you are claiming to reply to is this , from Jake :
European Tribune - On Minority Rights and on Beliefs

You of course have a right to practice a religion. You also have a right to go to the local woodlands and LARP on the weekends.

When those two rights have roughly the same status, you have religious freedom.

Not the same thing. Can you see that?

What Jake is saying is that the right to practise a religion is, rightly, protected. So is the right to LARP in the woods. Both are subject to restrictions and caveats (health, safety, respect of other people's rights, etc).

What Jake is saying is that any supplementary rights or protections, accorded to a religious organisation and not accorded to a LARP association, or accorded to people who claim to be acting out of religious motivation and not to other people, constitute religious privilege.

This seems to me to be a fair, unbiased definition of what religious privilege is. Where you, I or Jake may disagree about is the degree to which religious privilege is legitimate, in general or in a particular situation.

We may also disagree as to what constitutes religious privilege in particular cases.

May I request a dispassionate reply as to whether these definitions are OK with you? Then perhaps we can have a more productive discussion?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 05:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Jake is saying is that he won't find anything to compare with religion but a ridiculous game. If you say a church or other religious group must not have more status or political clout than a NGO or trade union or whatever organisations participate in the political sphere and roughly represent as many people, that's perfectly okay with me (and anything else would be religious privilege). It is not what I get to hear here on ET, because this wouldn't ridicule religion, and it wouldn't hurt. Any idea why it is a tad difficult for me to reply dispassionately to all this?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
If you say a church or other religious group must not have more status or political clout than a NGO or trade union or whatever organisations participate in the political sphere and roughly represent as many people, that's perfectly okay with me (and anything else would be religious privilege).

HOORAY!! Did it really hurt to spit it out? We could have saved a couple of days' unconstructive invective.

Any idea why it is a tad difficult for me to reply dispassionately to all this?

Because people get emotive about religion?

OK, I'm being flippant, but the use of reductio ad absurdam, as in Jake's example, is a valid rhetorical technique, and it's really a shame you take it so personally.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 10:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you really believe it is just me?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 08:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The glib answer is "religion does that to people". But I confess I am frequently baffled when you take criticisms of ideas or practices (concerning religion, for example) as personal attacks, and respond to them with personal attacks.

But perhaps you are talking about why so few women take part in discussions here. Which is a different subject, and an interesting one.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:20:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religion is deeply personal, there's nothing baffling about that.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not uniquely so. I have plenty of passionately-held personal beliefs. I generally manage to stay rational when discussing them.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then probably you weren't discussing attacks on them.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any questioning of religion is felt as a personal attack by the religious, apparently.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a completely new definition of "questioning" at work there.

There is an overlapping set of values here. This  enforced nudity horrifies me. Think of it, fill it with life: girls who so far wore headscarves had to enter their classroom one day, shamefaced to a jeering crowd who enjoy her humiliation... I cannot understand how anybody except fascists can advocate such cruelty. I can't. It is completely beyond me, and that has nothing to do with religion. Add to this Jake's suggestion that deeply held beliefs, something that is very much at the core of one's personality, should be treated like the rules of a game.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Think of it, fill it with life: girls who so far wore headscarves had to enter their classroom one day, shamefaced to a jeering crowd who enjoy her humiliation...
Think of it, fill it with life: girls who used to not wear a headscarf and played along with their brothers approach or pass puberty and suddenly they're told by their own family that they need to be secluded from society and that they must adopt "modest" dress including a headscarf as otherwise they will be considered whores and their community will disown them. And then they are told they may not take part in certain activities in school (such as sports) along with their mainstream female friends, and so on.

So what you're defending is the slutshaming of barely pubescent muslim girls by their own families. Good job.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:37:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nonsense. A reactionary view on girls is hardly imposed suddenly. I think we can assume that parents, even those with reactionary views, have a fairly consistent education style.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What exactly is "nonsense"? Pre-pubescent muslim girls are not required to wear headscarves. The headscarf is part of a culture that shames womanhood itself (menstruation makes women unclean, female sexuality is key to the honour of the whole family, etc, etc).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:59:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's far more complicated than that. But my main disagreement is "suddenly". That's nonsense. In families that expect their daughters to wear headscarves and no discussion, these daughters are taught from a very young age that there are different rules for boys and girls. It is not suddenly. It is a consistent style of raising children.

A ban of headscarves does not change that. It humiliates and alienates. That's no way to change attitudes in anyone.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:08:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently this is all okay with you?
Introduce your daughters to wearing hijab as soon as possible, for instance, as soon as they can walk.  Prepare them for when hijab and niqab will be worn regularly at puberty; do not dress them in kaffir clothes, and then one day they hit puberty and must totally adapt to the modesty clothing of a muslimah.  

Remember that daughters like to dress like their mother.  

You may use positive reinforcement to emphasize the blessings of wearing hijab, expressing simple emotions that a child can understand, such as feeling sorry for other girls (the children of disbelieving parents) that don't get their own hijab to wear.

Slutshaming 101. All very wholesome and defensible.
By puberty, girls should be wearing complete hijab, i.e. niqab, loose-fitting covering clothes at all times when going out of the house.

Muslimahs should wear hijab at age 7 to fulfill their obligation to salah.

Avoid dressing boys in clothes that resemble the kaffir. Kufi, thobes and other clothes that reflect his muslim identity, are recommended.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Katrin's point in the nonsense-comment - which your quotes underlines - is that it isn't sudden.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, well, clearly children under seven totally understand what's going on, Piaget notwithstanding.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:51:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Understand the process? No, they don't. But once a child is brought up in believing that certain garments are the right and proper to wear, then banning those garments places the child (or adult for that matter) in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position.

I don't know about you, but if I have to escape this downwards spiral that is present Europe and end up in a tropical paradise where there is no need for clothes at all, I would still like to keep at least some underwear on. Call me prude, but adjusting to total nuditiy would not be an easy journey. Issuing a formal ban on all clothes would not liberate me from the values of the society where I grew up.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So this is all okay as long as children are indoctrinated into sex segregation (and taught to have pity of people who are not part of their community) from an early age?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you still propose to alter a consistent and complex style of raising children with a ban on headscarves?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, assume we allow headscarves. Do you think this kind of segregational indoctrination should be encouraged to persist? What prevents people from arguing genital mutilation is part of the culture or that it's okay because girls have been taught it is necessary from an early age? Are you okay with your Muslm neighbours pitying your daughter or granddaughter and despising you (respectively, your daughter) for raising them as whores?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it should not be encouraged to persist. Emphasis on encourage (or discourage), not ban. It is a matter of public debate. I don't think any of our neighbours despise us or think we were whores, even though some let their daughters little freedom. I think you overrate how often behaviour or attitudes like that occur.
FGM is criminal behaviour, and the suspicion of a planned FGM would lead to the removal of the child from the family--rightly so.  An approach of respect for different cultures is not the same as tolerating every behaviour. A conservative to reactionary attitude towards women's and girls' sexuality is not enough reason to remove a child.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:36:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So this is okay too? German court rules Muslim girls must join swimming classes (Reuters)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:41:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we have already had that

Don't you remember? :)

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:55:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, actually, I must not have been paying attention. But there you said
If parents want to keep things from their children--for religious or whatever reasons--the children lack independence when they grow up. I find the principle right to limit the rights of parents


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:58:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. But enforcing that children take part in the normal lessons is something else than removing them from the family. And absolutely nothing positive happens if you ban headscarves. What do the children (or their parents) learn from such a ban?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That they can do what they like at home, but not in public.

Why is this such a problem for you?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that obvious? A ban on headscarves does not solve a single problem of doubtful attitudes in families towards girls sexuality. It just caters for the needs of authoritarian natives who feel uneasy with all these immigrants.

"they can do what they like at home, but not in public." Indeed. And authoritarian parents will take care that their daughters stay at home as much as they can enforce. It is a problem for me because it is a problem for vulnerable girls.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:05:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait - so according to your logic, if authoritarians parents are allowed to force their children to wear headscarves at school, that's going to make them less authoritarian?

What?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin was actually approaching the point that I feel is what really counts but was missing from the discussion so far. I mean, I don't buy that it is that much of a shock for girls to remain unveiled in front of classmates they grew up with at school, and I don't see why the family's attempts to force children to conform should take precedence to similar attempts by wider society (you live in both), but what does a veil ban at schools mean in practice? How is it enforced?

If (as it happened in France) the girl insisting on wearing a veil is fired, then the state most definitely didn't achieve conformity and didn't save the girl from her community's male-chauvinist authoritarianism. What's more, I think the message sent by those implementing such a ban has nothing to do with women's freedom, instead, the real intention is to send a message to Arab (men) that they should "go back home" where they are free to continue their alien cultural practices (including oppressing women).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, so what's the alternative? Physical coercion? I think not.

Those who consistently fail to conform to a school's rules end up getting expelled. This is universal (except in jurisdictions who go for physical coercion instead).

Sure, a little bit of negotiation, of give-and-take is advisable, but that requires a degree of leeway and flexibility on both sides (not an outstanding characteristic of either Islamic fundamentalists or of the Education Nationale... nevertheless, solutions have sometimes been found on a local basis)

Then, you get the problem of de-schooled children. Often contradictory with the obligation of education below a certain age. In the general case, this is fudged by an expelled student enrolling in another school, and hopefully changing their ways. In the case of headscarves, being a simple yes-or-no option, that isn't helpful (except as a way of getting around individual antagonisms or pride).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:51:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, so what's the alternative? Physical coercion?

Ah come on. First, schools have a long list of possible measures, including calling on the parents. Second, how far you go should depend on the type of offense. The way I see it, wearing a veil is no worse than wearing long hairs in the sixties.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:01:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you can guarantee that in every case of expulsion, they ran through the long list of measures, including discussion with the parents.

But it's a binary decision at the end : either covered hair is allowed, or it isn't; either the parents are prepared to countenance uncovering, or they aren't. There is no "he promises to be good from now on" type leeway.

What's more, organisationally, schools don't have autonomy to fix local rules. Certainly, short-term permissive fixes have been tried, in some cases; but if anybody (teachers, parents) object, the hierarchy will intervene to enforce strict application.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:33:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you can guarantee that in every case of expulsion, they ran through the long list of measures

Really?

France and the veil - the dark side of the law

"When the headmistress saw that I was wearing a veil outside school she told me that I couldn't wear my long skirt. She said I was to dress properly, with jeans and a top, or to leave school. So I left." Nineteen-year-old Aurélie, from Paris, knew that there were no grounds to expel her from school - the 2004 law that bans wearing "conspicuous religious symbols" in French schools only applies to headscarves, it doesn't extend to long skirts - but she couldn't face the confrontation. "She [the headmistress] was telling me all sort of things, that I wouldn't find work, that God wouldn't feed me. A counsellor told me she was saying nasty things about Muslims in the staff room. I thought it was unfair", she says, "Why could I not be free to practise my religion and go to school?"

...

Following the 2004 law forbidding religious "conspicuous religious signs at school" (of which 3 Sikh boys were the collateral victims during the first year of application), Tevanian and others decided to make their own assessment of the law. They counted the girls who had been expelled for wearing the veil but also those who had resigned or failed to show up at the start of the school year and interviewed those who had agreed to take their veil off. Very quickly, they found numerous abuses of the law: cases where veiled girls had been denied the right to sit at an exam or to enrol at university, cases where veiled mothers had been barred access to a school when they had come  to pick up their child's end of term report - or barred from accompanying a school outing. And also cases where banks and gyms had refused access to veiled women. Actions against the veil had multiplied in higher education, in the workplace and in in public spaces

But it's a binary decision at the end : either covered hair is allowed, or it isn't

I would dispute even that. The same way you can hide your cross in your shirt you can also wear a bandanna other girls wear as purely a fashion item, but even this wasn't acceptable in the Islamophobic craze.

What's more, organisationally, schools don't have autonomy to fix local rules

What local rules do you mean? Are you speaking about the pre-2004 situation, or some rules above the ban pushed for and enacted by the conservative national government (with Socialist support) in 2004?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well. In the case you cite, the girl was not expelled -- she left school because she couldn't face the confrontation. Not a good outcome, but not a counter-example to what I said.

With respect to the 2004 law, at the beginning of the 2005 school year Tevanian enumerates 45 girls expelled  (plus three Sikh boys), and around 60 who dropped out of the public system to either go to private schools or follow correspondance courses. And an uncounted number of girls who took off their hair coverings and went back to school.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 07:13:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the girl was not expelled

Your claim was about the process, not the end result. And the headmaster didn't "run through the long list of measures" but crossed several lines: attacking on the basis of head-scarves worn outside school and long skirts. You didn't react to the bandanna point, but it's the same with long skirts.

Tevanian enumerates

And what do these numbers mean to you? The point is "numerous abuses of the law", as a counter to your claim of due course.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 07:54:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm... what was my claim again?

eurogreen:

Well, you can guarantee that in every case of expulsion, they ran through the long list of measures, including discussion with the parents.

Not an expulsion. The reported attitude of the principal is, of course, deplorable.

"numerous abuses of the law"

I sort of feel I've covered this territory in this post. I have sort of implicitly apologised on behalf of the Education Nationale, but I don't feel I can assume personal responsibility for its deeply dysfunctional nature (in general, you should avoid asking the EN to implement any policy, because they will fuck it up).

I wish it would be possible to evaluate the result, ten years after, of the law banning religious dress in schools. Perhaps the effects were negative overall; perhaps a permissive attitude would have brought better outcomes (but who defines what are desirable outcomes?) It would be hard to find objective investigators; everyone has strong opinions on the subject. But I wish it were possible to measure, qualitatively and/or quantitatively, changes in attitudes towards Moslems, or changes in behaviours among Moslems (particularly between boys and girls). Because this is the big unspoken, unmentionable corollary to the debate about Moslem girls and why they must remain modestly dressed : the extreme assymetry in rights and expectations between the sexes.

It is no accident that the recent scare campaign against the proposal to introduce "gender studies" in primary schools provoked such a strong reaction from Moslem parents in particular. Questioning gender identity and the associated rights and duties of the sexes does not go down well among working-class Moslems. In the whole question of the integration/insertion of Moslems in French society, in my opinion this is probably the toughest nut to crack.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:28:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
I don't buy that it is that much of a shock for girls to remain unveiled in front of classmates they grew up with at school,

No? How would you feel if your clothes became banned, and after the ban comes into force you had to face the people who know how you dressed while you were free? Not humiliated?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote remain unveiled, you try to equate that with the removal of a previously worn cloth.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:16:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some further points.

  • From what I read on the situation in France, family pressure was by far not the only motivation for girls to want to wear a veil in school: some saw it as a way to reduce sexual harassment from aggressive boys, and (paradoxically) as a fashion item. While I see these as weak reasons to change dress codes, at the same time, you can't say that the state saves these girls from oppression (or, less grandiosely, shows them the possibility of and practices them in a different way) by enforcing the ban.

  • School dress codes are one thing, but burqa bans are much worse: those really only lead to oppressed women getting even more oppressed by always staying home.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wrong answer.

- That they can do what their parents like when under the authority of their parents, and do what the school requires when they are at school.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good article on that judgement (in German)
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:10:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the Burquini is the solution in Germany, but banned in France?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A bit unimaginative, all these bans, aren't they?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as imaginative as the religious compulsions and familial slutshaming.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:22:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does my link not land in the exact spot it should land? I clicked on the "time -stamp" of the post I wanted to link to.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:00:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know: link.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it needs the #number (#13 if you were aiming for dvx quoting from BBC) on the end (shown if you hover over the timestamp). Test without and with. Yes, that is it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if you have ever noticed, but children are able to accomodate vastly different contexts, environments, value systems, etc and switch effortlessly from one to the other, without analysing the contradictions.

For example : bilingual children (including those whose parents don't speak the local language but learn it at school); those whose home environments put no value on learning or reading, but acquire these habits at school; battered children who learn to feel safe and empowered at school; children of divorced parents who have very different lifestyles; and so on.

Some people imagine that children will be confused by such differences. With respect to bilingualism, for example, people with no experience of the question are often convinced that it must slow children's development. In fact, it helps if one is consistent, using one language or the other with certain people or in certain situations, rather than mixing arbitrarily. But "religious" with the family, "secular" in school is exceedingly clear, and not a source of confusion for the child.

I have always considered this capacity to manage differences a very positive thing : enriching for the child when the different environments carry positive things; and giving the child an alternative when one of the environments carries bad stuff. It empowers the child to recognise that there are alternatives in life, and helps them choose between them when the time is right, or to determine their own path.

If, on the other hand, you find it important that your children should understand that there is only one valid value system or path in life, then it is important to limit exposure to the alternatives, and/or to forbid the child from experiencing them.

So, yeah, for my part, I propose to propose an alternative, in the school environment,  to a consistent and complex style of raising children with a ban on headscarves in schools.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:47:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
So, yeah, for my part, I propose to propose an alternative, in the school environment,  to a consistent and complex style of raising children with a ban on headscarves in schools.

If that, A BAN, is a proposal for you, I shudder to think what you might mean when you consider force.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:21:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean if it is ok to shame us into believing that we need clothes even in a tropical paradise? No, I don't reallly think so, but I also think that banning clothes is an ineffective way of changing values.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:11:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, if we are speaking about girls who were simultaneously living with their conservative Muslim families and going to kindergarden/school, they have lived in both worlds all along, and you can't say that they have been suddenly forced to feel naked in school when they began to wear the veil at home.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This kind of stuff really makes for healthy child development and good relations with peers at school:
You may use positive reinforcement to emphasize the blessings of wearing hijab, expressing simple emotions that a child can understand, such as feeling sorry for other girls (the children of disbelieving parents) that don't get their own hijab to wear.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:31:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A ban on headscarves does not alter that some families teach that there are completely different rules for boys and girls. In the contrary, authoritarian measures only harden stances.

I remember how hard that was to learn for my daughter and her (Muslim) friend when they were about 4 years old. The friend's brother expected a friend who would stay overnight, and the girls naturally got the idea to copy that. And the parents of the 4 year old friend of my daughter didn't allow that. They would let the girl stay her for the night or let my daughter stay there. "We don't believe in girls staying outside their families." Period.

Have you any proposals for a new ban to change that?

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was meant to be: They wouldn't let the girl stay here for the night or let my daughter stay there.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, do you think it is justified to take 4-year olds away from their parents if they are part of a destructive cult?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:08:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not such a destructive cult. The girls are now 13, and S. is an exceptional good student (and her parents are rightly proud of her), with very good manners and at the same time self-confident. Near perfect, I'd say.

But she will have to fight if she wants to go dancing or so. Or else wait till she is 18. Or else, accept the norms her parents live by. By the way, neither the mother nor the girl wear headscarves.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not asking about this. I'm asking whether you believe it is possible to declare parents' ideology to be so fucked up as to be dangerous.

In Germany you do have banned ideologies.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:17:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And children taken away from destructive cults.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:33:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That must be atheist privilege at work.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the law against corporal punishment.

Mere ideology is not enough reason to remove a child.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:39:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
girls who so far wore headscarves had to enter their classroom one day, shamefaced to a jeering crowd who enjoy her humiliation...

Hm. This may be true for girls immigrating as teens, but AFAIK most Muslim girls start to cover ever more of their bodies as they grow older.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:08:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
girls who so far wore headscarves had to enter their classroom one day, shamefaced to a jeering crowd who enjoy her humiliation...

I'm not going to suppose that this never happened, but do you have any evidence that it did?

My impression of French schoolkids at least is that they are generally prompt to take the side of the victim (as in immigrants and asylum-seekers that are under expulsion orders). Isn't "jeering crowd" a fair amount of projection?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:22:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you say a church or other religious group must not have more status or political clout than a NGO or trade union or whatever organisations participate in the political sphere and roughly represent as many people,

That is not a fair comparison. Trade unions and similar civil society organizations typically have organizational cultures which are more or less democratic, or at least broadly consistent with democratic principles of governance. Religious groups - at least the large and loud ones - overwhelmingly have outright authoritarian command and control structures, or at the very least a strong undercurrent of deeply questionable power relationships.

I am in favor of pushing openly authoritarian organizations out of the political arena and down to the status of chess clubs and cheerleader squads. For various reasons, all mainstream religions have an at best ambivalent stance on authoritarianism.

It may be, of course, that the authoritarian tendency observed in all mainstream religious movements is a legacy of their origins in the mists of bronze age barbarism. But a case can also be made that toxic top-down authoritarianism is a necessary consequence of justifying an organization's core legitimizing narratives by appeal to revealed truth, as opposed to some putatively external reference point such as class interest or shared enthusiasm for cute fluffy animals.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious groups - at least the large and loud ones - overwhelmingly have outright authoritarian command and control structures

How much is this true in the USA? (I'm actually more averse to congregations like the Southern Baptists than most established European churches – including even some local branches of the Catholic Church – even if they have an at least superficially more democratic appearance.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about the formal rules and hierarchy, I'm talking about the rules and hierarchy that actually informs and governs real social interaction in the group. And charismatic congregations very much express top-down authoritarian power structures, and are frequently at least kissing cousins with the social control techniques characteristic of dangerous cults.

A theology that allows for universal priesthood isn't actually liberating, nor does it do anything to hold the priest caste accountable, unless the political and organizational culture of the congregation allows the individual layman to exercise it in the real world.

If you go by what is written in the constitution, Colombia and Cuba are the most democratic countries in the world. But we obviously do not judge the freedoms of a country based on its constitution, so why should we judge the democratic credentials of a religion by its theology?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:23:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about the formal rules and hierarchy, I'm talking about the rules and hierarchy that actually informs and governs real social interaction in the group.

Could you take Southern Baptists as example and show me what you mean? While their Executive Committee certainly has some informal means to pressure local congregations on issues like hiring women as pastors, I contend they are much less top-down in both practice and theory than say Bliar's Labour Party (but much more reactionary and vile in their policies).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In most normal organizations I am familiar with, members take turns chairing meetings, assembling agendas, taking minutes. When was the last time a Southern Baptist congregation took turns being the preacher man, universal priesthood notwithstanding?

The Southern Baptists are, at least the ones I am familiar with, structured around some variant of the local village elder who is held in absolute reverence. And who in turn unquestioningly swallows any old bullshit that his pet quacks peddle on mid-morning talk radio.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:18:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In most normal organizations I am familiar with, members take turns chairing meetings, assembling agendas, taking minutes.

Well, if "taking turns" can include time ranges in years and decades. Although there is no term limit for pastors, Southern Baptists can elect them off, and still do so at a relatively high rate, and firing liberal-minded pastors in droves was indeed a key measure in the fundamentalist takeover of the church. Even if that weren't the case, I think it matters a lot that congregations choose their own new pastors, thereby giving the fundamentalism grass-roots continuity. Perhaps even more importantly, the attendants of the annual assembly (which sets dogma and has some control on the Executive Committee, which would complete the hierarchy you mentioned) are elected annually from the congregation. The fundamentalist takeover used elected bodies and positions to grab appointed positions and re-write rules and doctrine (rigging the game in the same way as it happened in the simultaneous conservative takeovers of the Republican Party, the media and the federal government).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 05:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Dictators for life" also "take turns", strictly speaking.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:00:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Voting isn't everything there is to democracy, though.

If you have a political culture where "that's what the commissar says" is considered a valid argument, then you have an authoritarian political culture. No matter how much you vote on who gets to be in the politburo.

Elective monarchy is still monarchy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:35:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have a political culture where "that's what the commissar says" is considered a valid argument, then you have an authoritarian political culture.

Well then it's pretty widespread, the way followers act in most organisations. However, back to the specific example, the Southern Baptists are firing the commissar at a high rate and the conservative takeover from the 1970s forced the commissars to change what they say (or be fired), so that wasn't the result of an authoritarian political culture (but an authoritarian outlook using all the means of a democratic political culture).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not opposed at all to democratising church structures. You don't seriously believe that you achieve increasing democracy in a society if you suppress churches' influence, do you? In a political climate where human life increasingly only is worthy of protection and dignity if it is useful and productive, what political forces would fill the vacuum left if churches no longer had a voice?

It is a cute idea to fight authoritarianism by more authoritarianism, by the way.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, many established churches are entirely okay with treating human life as only worthy of protection and dignity if it is useful and productive or being made to feel guilty for not being so, and that includes even charity workers (see my example downthread).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:31:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't seriously believe that you achieve increasing democracy in a society if you suppress churches' influence, do you?

You don't seriously believe that you can increase democracy in a society by giving power structures favorable to psychopaths privileged access to political discourse, do you?

Once the mainstream churches are not overwhelmingly authoritarian right-wing organizations, they should of course have coequal status with other self-defined special-interest groups, like retirees' associations and motorists' associations.

Even then, however, trade unions remain a bad comparison. In a well-run industrial society they are party to core macroeconomic planning functions that churches have neither the qualifications nor the scope to participate in. Trade unions, in a properly run industrial society, are part of a special but difficult to define group of semi-official civil society organizations, along with media houses, banks, professional associations and scholarly organizations. I really don't see what religious groups have to contribute to that simply by virtue of subscribing to a particular creed or doctrine.

But that's all theory - as long as churches are governed by psychopathy-favoring power structures, they don't belong near the levers of power.

In a political climate where human life increasingly only is worthy of protection and dignity if it is useful and productive, what political forces would fill the vacuum left if churches no longer had a voice?

You are presuming facts not in evidence. Namely that churches' use their current political privileges in a way that is net favorable to the protection and dignity of human life.

It would be nice if we lived in that world.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't thinking of further empowering power structures. Perhaps you missed that I said structures of state and church exercising power must be separate. I object to a political discourse excluding contributions of churches (all religious organisations) and of of individuals who take a religious point of view in their argument. Additionally, the act of excluding--the shift in the political balance as opposed to a static view--opens up opportunities for the nastiest forces.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:58:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're expressing a very Enlightenment-inspired view of the nature of power, when you (implicitly) insist that the exercise of power is confined to the formal bureaucracy of the state.

On most subjects, espousing Enlightenment ideology would win points with me. Unfortunately on the subject of power, Enlightenment philosophy is incredibly naive. Naive in some ultimately very destructive ways.

I object to a political discourse excluding contributions of churches (all religious organisations) and of of individuals who take a religious point of view in their argument.

The problem with that is that in a society which observes freedom of religion, arguments couched in religious assumptions carry no universal validity. Because religious freedom means that the underlying religious assumptions carry no claim to universal validity.

Rule of law requires the law to be universal. That's the whole point of rule of law, a concept of which I personally am quite fond.

Which means that from the perspective of political discourse in a free society, religious discourse has no valid arguments, only a series of ad hoc demands.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:20:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
The problem with that is that in a society which observes freedom of religion, arguments couched in religious assumptions carry no universal validity. Because religious freedom means that the underlying religious assumptions carry no claim to universal validity.

So what? I can, from my underlying ethics, come to the same conclusion as you, from your underlying ethics, which is not the same. In that case we can agree on a law, though for different reasons. If our respective conclusions are not the same, we would have to talk about the underlying ethics. If we cannot do that, because I am excluded, you can hope that my position is too exotic to be strong or else prepare for something nasty. Was that really necessary to point out that democratic procedures serve to maintain peaceful relations in a state?

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what? So nothing, unless you aspire to a political culture which is more than a shifting set of ad hoc coalitions between more or less ghettoized special interest groups, which only need to justify their actions internally and not in terms recognized by any common language of public reason.

That is one possible version of democracy, but it is not one I find very attractive.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:10:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice word, "ad hoc coalition". Doesn't interest me though, and has nothing to do with what I said. "ghettoized special interest groups" comes a bit nearer to my point: I reject your notion that I belonged to a "special interest group", but I am consistently arguing against a process of ghettoization or marginalisation. So far you have denied that groups are becoming excluded (or marginalised or ghettoised). There is a spark of hope if you now concede it. It would be even better if you deplored that exclusion and wanted to reverse it.

My point was not about universal law or not. My point is how we decide if we need a certain law at all, and what for. In short, what direction we want our society to take.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 05:57:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I reject your notion that I belonged to a "special interest group", but I am consistently arguing against a process of ghettoization or marginalisation. So far you have denied that groups are becoming excluded (or marginalised or ghettoised).

You're going to have to dig out quotes to that effect.

What I have pointed out, repeatedly, is that under freedom of religion, religious rhetoric cannot be a language of public reason. Because under freedom of religion, religious doctrine is not a valid standard of lawmaking or jurisprudence.

People who advance religious rhetoric in the public debate are therefore either erecting a ghetto around themselves wholly of their own making, or they are objecting against freedom of religion.

Neither is a wholesome and desirable way to influence the direction we want our society to take.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My own application of the above to a practical example: if a Christian group objects to GMOs on the basis that it violates God's monopoly on creation, then they can form one part of a coalition against GMO, but their argument is restricted to religionists of their own stripe, and thus it means nothing to other members of the anti-GMO coalition or to proponents, and won't be useful as basis for public debate. But, if this Christian group understands the logic of marching under one flag, I'm not sure this amounts to an objection against freedom of religion, though.

Is that how you see it too or are you more restrictive?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:04:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle, I find it troubling when a political faction mobilizes large numbers of adherents using their own parallel language. In the same way I find it troubling that well over two thirds of all Fortune 500 CEOs are McKinsey alumni, and five of the last five US Treasury Secretaries are Goldman alumni.

In practice, any successful change coalition needs to be a big tent, so as long as they don't start trying to boot people out of the big tent I'm not going to start trying to boot them out.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and please quit insinuating that secular society is excluding you from political discourse by not crediting your religious talking points with any merit. You are excluding yourself by advancing arguments which are based on premises which nobody has any obligation to accept in a society which practices freedom of religion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
I object to a political discourse excluding contributions of churches (all religious organisations) and of of individuals who take a religious point of view in their argument.

But what is the nature of the exclusion to which you object?

Should people be forced to listen to religious organisations? (like in the old days?)

Is there some sinister movement seeking to censor the political expression of religious groups?

Do you imagine that secularists (such as myself) plan to silence or suppress church leaders?

What are you afraid of, exactly?

In a democratic society, advocacy groups are listened to if they make convincing arguments (in principle. Sadly, money buys a lot of influence.) It is probable that the established religions have excessive influence currently, because of their established position and because of direct or indirect subsidies. Once the playing field has been levelled (if we ever get there), then religious groups will presumably have the influence they merit.

Do you have a problem with that?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 06:20:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am afraid of demagoguery taking over. A society so fragmented that the gaps can no longer be bridged. And then a campaign against one minority after the other.

A few years ago Islamophobes invented the slogan that there was a right to hurt someone's religious feelings. This infamous thing gained traction beyond the extreme right wing, and suddenly all the anti-religious, even otherwise fairly democratic people, embraced this. And if they have the right, that implies that their victims have to endure quietly, because if they defend themselves, they violate the right to hurt them, right? It meets Jake's demand of universality, too: you have the right to hurt my religious feelings, and I have the right to hurt your inexistent ones. But neither of us has the right to sleep under bridges.

I wouldn't be surprised if even here some people found that an entirely nice rule. Nobody has asked themselves what we need it for, though. Why a society that gives a right to hurt someone is a desirable society. I am still waiting for an answer to that. The question of where this society should move to is already marginalised.

You ask if people should be forced to listen to religious organisations. Why don't you ask if people should be forced to listen to anyone. Or you could have posed the question: should people be forced to listen to arguments from all corners, without prejudice. Why did you pose your question in the way you did? Perhaps because it is inconceivable for you that a religious organisation or a person taking a religious stance has something useful for everyone to contribute?

I assume you have seen how Rowan Williams' proposals to integrate Muslims in structures that already exist for Christians and for Jews were distorted. They were distorted, not debated. Should people be forced to listen what he says, instead of to the distortions? And remember: he was an archbishop. That's as privileged a position you can imagine. Now guess what happens to the argument of a brown-skinned immigrant woman defending her right to include the concept of religion in her personality and to do that publicly that by wearing a headscarf or veil or whatever.

eurogreen:

It is probable that the established religions have excessive influence currently, because of their established position and because of direct or indirect subsidies.

That's what the right wing in this city says too. Just this morning they have started a large campaign in the media friendly to them: the Lutheran church participated in the campaign for a referendum forcing the government to get our energy grid back (which in the meantime has taken place and which we have won). That was in the open all along, but now the "scandal" is that the church gave 42,000 € for the expenses of the campaign.

You ally yourself to racists and Islamophobes in the case of veils and to fossil fuel interests in the case of the position of mainstream churches. Have you ever asked yourself if you aren't just plain wrong?

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago Islamophobes invented the slogan that there was a right to hurt someone's religious feelings. This infamous thing gained traction beyond the extreme right wing, and suddenly all the anti-religious, even otherwise fairly democratic people, embraced this. And if they have the right, that implies that their victims have to endure quietly, because if they defend themselves, they violate the right to hurt them, right?

I suspect (but I can't be sure, from your description) that you are talking about France. If so (and probably unlike Germany), anticlericalism is a long-established tradition, dating to the Revolution, and which was extremely active in the late 19th-early 20th century. It calmed down once the power of the (Catholic) church was definitively broken, but has remained an active current of thought ever since.

I suspect (again) that you are talking about Charlie Hebdo, its publication of cartoons featuring Muhammad, its comic books on the life of the Prophet, etc. This is nothing more offensive or extreme than the stuff they have been publishing about Catholicism for decades; and as left-wingers, they felt in no danger of being thought as allies or copycats of fascists or islamophobes. They reasoned that a special form of racism is at work if one particular religion must be exempted from criticism or satire.

This led to the firebombing of the paper, which is not a legal response to satire. And there was an overwhelming wave of support for the paper and its freedom of speech, from the left.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 07:26:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You suspect a long list of things. I suspect I won't get an answer to my questions. I'll add some new ones:

Can I take a religious stance, such as preserving God's creation, or does that devalidate everything I have to say on the protection of the environment?

Would you have voted "no" in the referendum on the grid, because it was supported by the church, and the church has no place in the public, let alone politics?

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 08:05:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
You suspect a long list of things. I suspect I won't get an answer to my questions. I'll add some new ones

Go ahead and ask. Until you clarify what you are referring to here :

A few years ago Islamophobes invented the slogan that there was a right to hurt someone's religious feelings.

... which I made a carefully qualified assumption about, I'm not able to answer any of them. (The last two questions frankly don't deserve answers; in particular, unlike you apparently, I don't believe in guilt by association.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 08:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can think of no reason why you can't answer my questions without first knowing the origin of the awful notion I cited. I remember the phrase from a particularly disgusting piece by Henryk Broder and the background was the Danish cartoons. I have since heard the phrase again, and not only by outright right-wing extremists. Apparently you agree on the latter point when your assumption locates it at what you call a left paper. Do you agree with the notion too? That there is a right to hurt people's religious feelings?

Will you now invent a new subterfuge for not answering my questions, I wonder?

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:22:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin, we have had this discussion before. I am reluctant to replay it again, because I am quite sure that your feelings would get hurt. My answer, of course, is yes. (Any other answer, of course, would be evidence of religious privilege. But we've been there.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a right to hurt my feelings by saying
You ally yourself to racists and Islamophobes

? Of course you do. (and yes, it hurts.) You would like to use your religion as a shield, to forbid me from formulating such a shameful, hurtful lying insult against you or your god?

And why should I accord you that (religious) privilege? In the name of your god?

(I was going to add a rhetorical suggestion of what you should do with your god, but I changed my mind ;)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:46:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you object to the word "ally" in your ugly language that, remember, I struggle with, or do you object to the notion that you have the same demands as them, a ban on Muslim veils?

If I haven't made clear enough that I am aware that your reasons for advocating the same measure are different from their reasons, I am sorry. You do advocate the same thing though, and that was my point.

As to your last sentence: it would leave me cold. Fire away if it makes you feel better.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:54:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't play games. You know what an ally is.

Your diary itself is framed in insulting, inflammatory language which I have carefully avoided analysing or responding to. But your final provocation -- asking innocently if I think it's OK to insult religions -- made me crack.

I apologise to anyone else still reading this rubbish.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:13:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurogreen, I am sorry (I really am!) but I have no idea what has happened. And I meant my words exactly as I have explained, not as you obviously read them.
by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, when you wrote

A few years ago Islamophobes invented the slogan that there was a right to hurt someone's religious feelings.

... who were you talking about? Salman Rushdie, perhaps?

You see, I object strongly to the notion of such a right having been "invented", a few years ago, by islamophobes. One might ascribe this to ignorance and parochialism on your part (perhaps it's against the law to hurt someone's religious feelings in Germany?)... But no, because we have discussed this very issue before, more than once.

So I don't see any alternative to reading it as a deliberate attempt to inflame the debate.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:41:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
... who were you talking about? Salman Rushdie, perhaps?

As I said, Broder and his ilk. And more important than the question by whom it was invented or introduced or whatever: debating along the line whether such a right exists or not deflects from the question what it should be good for.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the reference to Rushdie was ironic, but he came before your friend Broder. And as you may recall, he nearly died at the hands of those who considered there is no such right.

And where ideas come from is very important indeed. The idea that the right to criticize religions might have been invented by the islamophobic right is just grotesque.

As for what a right is good for : what are human rights for, after all? They are to be used as the human sees fit.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 11:14:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that the right to criticize religions might have been invented by the islamophobic right is just grotesque.
Yeah, all those proto-Nazi 18th century philosophers...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 11:23:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"your friend Broder": I find that worse than "ally oneself with". And if for a native speaker it is not, I can't know.

"the right to criticize religions" is not what we have been talking about. It is different from a (disputed) right to hurt person's religious feelings.

eurogreen:

what are human rights for, after all?

A foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world. That's the underlying goal, as quoted from the UN Declaration of Human Rights. All laws and rules have such goals, and these should be open and transparent. Their debate is directly related to the ethical concepts in a society, and these latter are often (but not always) informed by religious values.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 11:34:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"the right to criticize religions" is not what we have been talking about. It is different from a (disputed) right to hurt person's religious feelings.

But my dear, you have demonstrated over and over again that the two are inseparable!

If I criticize religion (ANY religion), your feelings get hurt. I have no control, nor any responsibility, over how you receive my exercise of the right to criticize religion. If you wish to censor my right to speak about religion in such a way as to avoid any offense, then my freedom to criticise religion no longer exists.

Here's a thought experiment for you : Salman Rushdie, who is of Islamic heritage, used that heritage in a novel. It appeared in a pirate edition in Iran, where it apparently hurt some people's religious feelings. This resulted in a death sentence, etc...

Should Rushdie have been subjected to censorship? Should novels be read before publication by jury of a priest, a pastor, a rabbi and an imam? If not, what mechanism do you propose to prevent people's religious feelings from getting hurt?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 11:45:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
If I criticize religion (ANY religion), your feelings get hurt.

Nope. That's probably the reason why we haven't understood each other's messages. I don't know how criticism of religion can make sense--it is there and you believe or not, but such criticism doesn't hurt. What Rushdie did, was criticising behaviour and social attitudes, by the way. Not because he wants to parade the backward natives, but in order to take part in a discourse he has a place in. Perfectly legitimate. That is different from the anti-immigrant discourse of European Islamophobes.

Find out what you criticise. A religion, or religion as such? Religious communities and organisations? The power exercised by religious organisations or institutions? Religious mores? Behaviour of believers? Religious feelings of persons?

Huge differences.

Exercising power, rules and mores, behaviour are open for criticism, and here public debate is necessary. Beliefs in my opinion cannot be discussed, but attempts don't hurt, they are just boring. The feelings of persons are to be respected.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 12:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Find out what you criticise. A religion, or religion as such? Religious communities and organisations? The power exercised by religious organisations or institutions? Religious mores? Behaviour of believers? Religious feelings of persons?

Huge differences.


The obligation to maintain that distinction cuts both ways. When religious adherents conflate criticism of religious power structures and authority figures with criticism of their religious community, their religion, or religion in general, then such distinctions get really blurry, really fast.

My very clear impression is that secularists are not the greater offenders against clarity in this distinction.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Find out what you criticise. A religion, or religion as such? Religious communities and organisations? The power exercised by religious organisations or institutions? Religious mores? Behaviour of believers? Religious feelings of persons?

OK... for a few days I was under the false impression that you wanted laws or regulations against hurting people's religious feelings. If we're talking about rules of discussion, I'll try to clarify mine.

Criticising a religion, or religion as such, is out of bounds for me : something I hope I don't do. Religious communities and organisations : I reserve the right to criticise their practices and influence, the way they are organised or funded etc, to the same degree as I would criticize any other constituted body, no more, no less. Religious mores, I reserve the right to criticise, insofar as they impinge on others. Religious feelings of persons are none of my business, and not very interesting to me.

Behaviour of believers, or as I would prefer to call it, religious praxis, is of interest to me, and not exempt from criticism. When religiously-motivated or -justified behaviours are strongly at variance with societal norms, then this will inevitably be a subject for debate. Is it is a legitimate subject for debate? If it has negative effects on people -- outside the religious group, or within it -- then yes.

Random example : in my home country, I remember a controversy concerning Jehovah's Witnesses who refused blood transfusions for their children.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:59:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Criticising a religion, or religion as such, is out of bounds for me
Wait, we can criticise (say) Austrian Economics on logical or epistemological grounds as a system of thought, but "a religion" is out of bounds?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 05:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with a lot of this.

"When religiously-motivated or -justified behaviours are strongly at variance with societal norms, then this will inevitably be a subject for debate. Is it is a legitimate subject for debate?"

Of course it is. If you criticise the behaviour of a persecuted minority, you must tread carefully though.  And you cannot violate their human rights (I know that you don't see bans on headscarves as such, but you will at least concede that your view is controversial, right?) and start a nice unprejudiced talk about their religious praxis at the same time. You will have to decide which you want. With strong Islamophobian movements around you can't have a discourse with Muslims without rejecting the Islamophobian attempts and actively defending the Muslims' rights.

"Random example : in my home country, I remember a controversy concerning Jehovah's Witnesses who refused blood transfusions for their children"

Which is a matter of weighing different, conflicting rights against each other, not a matter of making a minority rightless.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 08:44:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With strong Islamophobian movements around you can't have a discourse with Muslims without rejecting the Islamophobian attempts and actively defending the Muslims' rights.

That cuts both ways: With strong fundamentalist and anti-secular movements around, you cannot have a discourse with secularists without rejecting fundamentalism and defending secular society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 14th, 2014 at 09:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
That cuts both ways: With strong fundamentalist and anti-secular movements around, you cannot have a discourse with secularists without rejecting fundamentalism and defending secular society

You don't happen to claim that there are any fundamentalist and anti-secular movements around whose strength can in any way be compared with the Islamophobian movements all over Europe, do you? Muslims are assaulted, their Mosques are vandalised, and there are wide-spread campaigns for various legislation taking away more of their rights. The latter item gets support from people who should know better, which is my point.  

by Katrin on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 10:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't happen to claim that there are any fundamentalist and anti-secular movements around whose strength can in any way be compared with the Islamophobian movements all over Europe, do you?

I abso-fucking-lutely do.

When the Pope no longer has preaching rights in parliament; when the Russian patriarch no longer peddles partisan propaganda from the pulpit; when the League of Polish Families is no longer represented in parliament; when the Opus Dei no longer runs banks representing a gross asset portfolio comparable to the annual outlays of a small sovereign, then I might begin to take the notion seriously that anti-secularists should be given a free pass in the interest of making common cause against racists pretending to be anti-Islamists.

But until then, I'm taking the view that having a discriminated-against skin color is not a valid excuse for supporting religious privilege.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 01:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that fundamentalism for you or unwholesome influence of large organisations?

And I want no fucking violence and harassment, and we are only at the beginning of that. You and Eurogreen are playing with matches and there are explosives all around you.

by Katrin on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 03:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Says the lady who is on record defending the Russian Orthodox patriarch from having his religious feelings hurt by the people he's busy directing his followers to throw broken bottles at...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 15th, 2014 at 05:39:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Salman Rushdie, who is of Islamic heritage, used that heritage in a novel. It appeared in a pirate edition in Iran, where it apparently hurt some people's religious feelings.

The way I know it, it was more personal: while the campaign against Rushdie was based on the parts of the book that re-told Mohammed's life according to the Quran within the nightmares of an apostate, Khomeini could find something much closer to home in another nightmare about an exiled Muslim high priest re-taking his country (which was much more unflattering than Muhammed's portrayal).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 07:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"the right to criticize religions" is not what we have been talking about. It is different from a (disputed) right to hurt person's religious feelings.

Not in any practical realpolitik sense.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:50:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Do you agree with the notion too? That there is a right to hurt people's religious feelings?

eurogreen:

(Any other answer, of course, would be evidence of religious privilege. But we've been there.)

Only if there is a general right to insult. Of which I am not to sure.

First, if the right to insult means anything in practise, the right is related to actions of the state. I see a couple of different reactions from the state to insults.

So first, some speech is punished by the state. This includes some insults, for example slander and hate speech.

Second, most speech is allowed by the state, though you are not particularly protected if other take offense, other then that those can be punished for illegal actions. This includes some insults, for example yelling "your team lost because it was bad" at soccer fans or yelling "you are going home alone because you are ugly" at people existing a drinking establishment at closing time.

Third, some speech is protected by the state. For example political manifestations by parties accepted by the state can get police protection in order to be able to perform their speeches.

Fourth, there appears to be demand for some speech to get a free pass from legal consequences of what is said. The state generally does not enforce that.

Now, far as I can see, the demand by rightwingers of a right to hurt muslems religious feelings tends to be cathegory four. If the boycott against Denmark was horrible and motivated reprintings in full, then it is cathegory four.

I - and it appears the UK - would myself place Rushdie at cathegory three. He made much more then a provocation, even if it provoked.

Most provocations against muslems I would place in cathegory two, though it appears the states often disagrees with me. If your aim is to provoke and people get mad at you, though luck. Yes, the police should act to prevent crime, so report threats to them. But don't be surprised if police resources does not stretch very far.

Some provocations against muslems are also clearly hate crimes and should be treated as such.

I guess this is my longwinded way of saying that if the "right to hurt people's religious feelings" should be the same as the "right to hurt soccer fans feelings". In effect, the state won't stop you from getting people mad and should prosecute crimes against you that results from you getting people mad. Doesn't stop it from being stupid though. Claiming wider protection for religious feelings is a claim of religious priviledge, but claiming wider rights to hurt feelings because they are religious claims an anti-religious priviledge.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 04:16:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This had very practical consequences in the UK until fairly recently, and still does in some countries (Ireland?) which have blasphemy laws.

British law was unusually tolerant:

The dictum "if the decencies of controversy are observed, even the fundamentals of religion may be attacked without the writer being guilty of blasphemy" was followed in R v Boulter (1908) 72 JP 188.
In the case of Bowman v Secular Society [1917] AC 406, Lord Sumner, echoing Hale's remarks in Taylor, summarized the position using the Latin phrase, deorum injuriae diis curae, "offences to the gods are dealt with by the gods": blasphemy is an offence against the (Christian) state, and is prohibited because it tends to subvert (Christian) society; offence to God as such is outside the reach of the law.

But then there was a famous trial in 1977, in which the judge decided that blasphemy wasn't bad because it was insulting, but because "The offence belongs to a group of criminal offences designed to safeguard the internal tranquillity of the kingdom."

Or in other words, it could be held to be criminal if 'liable to cause a breach of the peace.'

Practical law seems some way ahead of the debate here.

But there's been no serious interest in pursuing blasphemy cases since, and there's no general principle that religious feelings deserve more respect than any other feelings - that idea hasn't really been taken seriously for at least two hundred years in the UK.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 04:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i remember in india a sign in the chai shop with NO DISCUSSION OF RELIGION OR POLITICS written on it.

guess they were tired of cleaning up the broken glass

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 05:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
deorum injuriae diis curae

Sounds like a sig line to me.

With an optional "Cavete ad iram deorum", or something.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 03:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The insulters of soccer fan feelings would get to feel the reaction themselves. In the case of the religious feelings insulters, most likely someone else would be victim of the reaction. I am not thinking about how to prevent or prosecute at the moment, I simply want to reject the notion when it is used argumentatively: no there can't be a right to hurt any person's feelings. A society granting such a anti-social "right" is not desirable.  
by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:41:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An additional dimension of distinction is whether the insult felt was an insult intended.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I'm sorry my insult offended you in unintended ways"

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 07:15:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But a strong tenet of Western(TM) jurisprudence is that while intent can influence the severity of a crime, it is generally considered problematic to classify something as a crime solely on the basis of intent.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It appears both you and Migeru are thinking of the distinction between voluntary manslaughter and murder. However, I was more thinking of the distinction between excusable homicide and murder: a religious person may perceive something as an insult to her religion even if it wasn't meant to be insulting her religion (Rushdie's case or, I believe, Pussy Riot's case) or even an insult at all (almost anything attacked as attack on Christmas).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not familiar with "justifiable homicide" as a legal distinction. It exists as a political distinction, but jurisprudence does not, and can not, map directly to political legitimacy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 07:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not "justifiable homicide" but "excusable homicide". The former is something borderline like self-defense, the latter includes accidental homicide like a train driver hitting a suicide jumper (and the latter's relatives suing with the mistaken assumption that the driver could have braked in time).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 02:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in that case intent does not matter: If I use proportionate force to repel a clear and present danger, the intent to kill does not matter to the legality. Of course if I apply force with the intent to kill, I am much less likely to apply proportional force, but what I will go behind bars for is the disproportionate use of force, not the intent to kill per se.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 13th, 2014 at 12:57:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:

Can I take a religious stance, such as preserving God's creation, or does that devalidate everything I have to say on the protection of the environment?

this is illogical, surely you see that? if you do then you are being disingenuous, if you don't, then you have a block against taking on board what others are saying, as if you always see something to attack in what they say, and there is nothing to learn from them, even from those who have lent you their support in their comments. this makes you seem to come here just to impose your POV, rather than enjoy an intelligent debate about important issues.

Would you have voted "no" in the referendum on the grid, because it was supported by the church, and the church has no place in the public, let alone politics?

sigh... this is starting to feel like a whine that

a. people who don't believe as you do are all out to get you and make you feel bad because respect for your opinions

b. anyone who does believe in equality would (in fear of offending your sensitive self) acknowledge that all groups of opinion-holders have equal valence in a democracy. this apparently does not appeal to you as much as insinuating that anyone who for reasons of social harmony and better assimilation makes any rules at all the poor poor victims are going to be women, and (extra-painful!) religious women. therefore anyone who doesn't agree with you is a patriarchal, authoritarian atheism-privileged ENEMY who much be stripped of their hypocrisy and denounced as social trolls. and that is the noble mission you have chosen to carry like a cross.

because you are a nice person and therefore have to harangue anyone who disagrees and re-educate them to your infallible way of thinking.

is it possible you are projecting here?

there are some comments in this thread that do come off as fairly rude, and i regret that, the kitchen does get over-warm here at ET, but i notice that your response to this rudeness is clever always, but -if less obviously- quite rude too.

maybe it's bad etiquette to critique others' debating techniques, i apologise if this post itself seems rude, it is not my intention.

i would like to point out patterns and give you a different perspective... i think your points would be made better if you take what others have to say on board more rather than seeing them as folks to be out-argued in some points-winning kind of way.

sincerely, all the best for what you do to help womens' and childrens' rights.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 09:37:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
this is illogical, surely you see that?

Absolutely not. Why is it illogical?

melo:

anyone who does believe in equality would (in fear of offending your sensitive self) acknowledge that all groups of opinion-holders have equal valence in a democracy.

But they would still ask questions like "Should people be forced to listen to religious organisations?", not "Should people be forced to listen to anyone?" or so.

melo:

i think your points would be made better if you take what others have to say on board more rather than seeing them as folks to be out-argued in some points-winning kind of way.

That's not my intention. I am trying to get answers that one can move on from. I get repetitions of replies that not answers for the point I made. It is quite possible that my posts are not clear enough and too easily misunderstood. It is quite possible that my interlocutors' posts are unclear. Or both.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
Absolutely not. Why is it illogical?

because the point is that it doesn't matter what aegis the group is coming together under, they can be the dominant regional church or the trainspotters' club, as long as they aren't naziskins or something equally abhorrent. there's no extra weight behind anyone's opinion, their affiliations or belief-systems notwithstanding. don't you see the implied victimology in your question? why would you ask it unless you were trying to provoke some kind of aggrieved response, (from someone to whom the mention of religion is a trigger for some past unpleasant event, like some holocaust survivors who can't hear the word 'gas' without getting the horrors) which then justifies your prejudice that expects that reaction?

i do think it's admirable that you want to protect peoples' feelings and avoid unnecessary constraints on peoples' choices but rather than changing peoples' minds here i think your posts tend to harden them.

we can have ideas about how to make societies more harmonic and disagree without using religion as a virtual cudgel or a plea for extra compassion.

to atheists religious talk shuts down their comprehension circuits, if you need religion for your argument it means you don't have one.

i happen to think you do, but your bringing religion into the discussion makes your goal of communication to anyone  more distant rather than closer.

when religion enters the public sphere it should tiptoe, as its track record has so many errors it should stay humble, otherwise you are going to get heavy pushback from people who feel that religion is irrelevant and like sufferers of centuries of PTSD just don't want to go there.

how many of us in this discussion have had ancestors burned as witches, or conversely had their lives saved by some religious person for religious reasons?

religion is very complex and probably pre-rational, which doesn't mean post-religious secularism has all the answers, which is why freedom of religion is tolerated, as long as it doesn't get too big for its social boots.

teenagers are going to want to individuate, not always in friendly ways. i know your efforts are to remove causes for bullying, and it is becoming a terrible problem these days, so i hope you are successful in your work, there is no excuse for it.

 we are all bullied by rules we didn't sign up for...

Katrin:

That's not my intention. I am trying to get answers that one can move on from

that implies finality. unlike this thread ;)

interesting to observe whether you get what you are attempting to obtain.... some kind of closure perhaps?

a ringing last chord? tonic resolution?

you may be arguing with your own shadow!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 08:30:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:

to atheists religious talk shuts down their comprehension circuits, if you need religion for your argument it means you don't have one.

i happen to think you do, but your bringing religion into the discussion makes your goal of communication to anyone  more distant rather than closer.

Actually I have not very often brought religion into the discussion. Once, rejecting the notion that everyone here is an atheist. No, I am not. I was very shocked at the arrogant reaction. I have since tried to avoid all threads where any religion played any role, often with gnashed teeth, because I would have had something to say, but knew how it would be received. It is not true that I use religion for my argument, though. I just don't want to have to hide the fact that I have one, and I strongly object to all attempts to outlaw visible religiosity. The treatment a religious contributor on ET tends to get is a minor nuisance compared to the danger European Muslims are in though. Muslims are the victims of discriminatory laws and of a real wave of hate crime, but on ET they are discussed as oppressors, even if that oppression is only their clothes that insult the eye. I value ET enormously, including contributions of those who in the question of religion oppose me most. I cannot put up with how a blind eye is turned to this injustice and danger though, because it doesn't fit their worldview.

melo:

there's no extra weight behind anyone's opinion, their affiliations or belief-systems notwithstanding.

That's a good idea. So far I have missed that spirit here. I know I have made many mistakes on this thread, but don't think I hadn't tried to avoid them.

I cannot put up with suggestions Muslims hide part of their personality if they don't want to be persecuted. Or that all Muslims had to tolerate being stereotyped as long as the government of Saudi Arabia doesn't respect freedom. And I cannot put up with suggestions that personal freedom is irrelevant with the problems humanity faces. Whatever I say on the topic here is being taken as if it was exotic and only explicable because I have a belief too. There aren't many options thinkable to get out of that situation, are there?

by Katrin on Sat Feb 8th, 2014 at 10:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that ET is critical of and often hostile to religion, especially, but not only, to revealed religion and always to claims of authority based on religion. I am agnostic in that I cannot prove there is no God, but atheist in that I believe that the deity portrayed by popular Christianity is too absurd to be taken seriously. I went to Protestant Sunday School for years and learned the basics of the belief and of the history of religion. And I am generally glad of the experience, though I rejected the theology. As it turned out I developed views quite similar to those of my father, with whom I had an otherwise difficult relationship prior to his death about two weeks before I turned 13. My mother had been raised in the same denomination which I attended but did not accept all of the beliefs, including that her husband was going to Hell for his disbelief. The compromise was that I would attend Sunday School and make up my own mind. This all occurred in the oil patch of north central Oklahoma prior to my leaving for college at 17 in 1960.

A physics major in college only reinforced my secular/rational beliefs, but I did make friends with a fellow student of Armenian descent who had attended a year of seminary. We saw Elmer Gantry together and some Bergman films and enjoyed discussing issues that arose. And I was glad of my religious education, such as it was, when I enrolled in a Master's program in history at the U of Arizona in Tuscon, where my family had moved after I started college.

Later, in Los Angeles, I met people interested in Indian religion, especially the Vedanta Society. Many of those religious leaders were great syncrotists, wanting to show similarities between their tradition and the Christian tradition. They emphasized the role of mental states in religious experience. Finally something that made sense! I still think that there are aspects of our minds that we could profitably cultivate, but ET is not a good vehicle for such discussions.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 8th, 2014 at 12:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Can I take a religious stance, such as preserving God's creation, or does that devalidate everything I have to say on the protection of the environment?"

No, of course not everything. But if you'd, for example try to get non-religious people to support environmental protection by framing it as "preserving God's creation" you'd likely get one of two reactions:

a) "God's creation"? What's that? That's not a term I recognize.

or:

b) You mean we shouldn't trash our planet because it was created by God? Well, I don't believe in God, so that's not really going to convince me.

tl;dr: If you base your argument on a tenet from your religion, it will lose merit for those who don't share it.

by ComradeFrana on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:14:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This whole debate is about framing. Katrin wants to argue in a religious frame. Most of the rest of the debaters want to argue in secular frames.

So the disagreement is not actually on the headscarf ban. The headscarf ban arguments expose that there is a difference at the level of frames.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:20:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Katrin wants to argue in a religious frame.

I want the freedom to argue in a religious frame. I don't usually do so (for the reasons ComradeFrana cites: it distracts from the message), but I don't want to be sorted in the reactionary corner when I do.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:31:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Into which corners have you sorted people who don't want to reason in a religious frame, and a fortiori don't want to allow civil law to be based on religious frames?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:33:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm OK, so you are claiming the right to determine how people are allowed to react to your religious views.

Without claim religious privilege...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:43:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't determine how people react to my religious or other views. But I am free to make my own judgement of such reactions when I meet them, am I not?

You are right in one point: the topic has been in the discussion before, and always highly emotional. I have tried a few things, including avoiding all threads where the topic religion cropped up, which wasn't alyways nice. The heap under the carpet then became too big, and that's why I made this diary. The alternative would have been to leave ET

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 11:00:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Implying that nobody's going to come out of this discussion with a changed frame. They may change their mind on a whole variety of other topics, including exceptionally on the headsvarf ban. But they will rationalise their change of mind within their frame.

Changes of frame are as rare as religious conversions.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone who went through one and back again, I'd say a religious conversion is one heck of a change of frame.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eurogreen was flippant when I said in an earlier comment that religion is deeply personal. But it really is. It's a more closely held frame than a political ideology.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:36:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET, ComradeFrana.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beat me by 1 second.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:30:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Training for the Olympics.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:33:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's so gay.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:35:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New piefight starts HERE.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:36:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't make me post a barechested picture of Putin.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:38:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er... No.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:40:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On whoresback.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET, ComradeFrana

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:25:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People arrive at truths from all sorts of different angles. When a goal is clearly shared (e.g. preserving the environment), it's perfectly legitimate to form alliances with people or groups who have different motivations.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couldn't you have said that earlier?
by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see how you framed that question again :

You ally yourself to racists and Islamophobes in the case of veils and to fossil fuel interests in the case of the position of mainstream churches.

i.e. you had already answered the question for me : making the extraordinary assumption that I would vote against my convictions in order to spite the church!

Have you ever asked yourself if you aren't just plain wrong?

... and now you're channeling Cromwell! (joke)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:51:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"When a goal is clearly shared"

Yeah, I guess. I just wanted to illustrate why religiously framed arguments can be received poorly among the non-religious.

(That's why "secular" arguments are preferred. Not because of some kind of religious intolerance, but simply because religiously framed arguments, by definition based on some personal beliefs, lose their cogency in eyes of people that do not share those beliefs.)

by ComradeFrana on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 01:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite. There are still different motivations in every debate, religious and non-religious ones, and proposals may be essential for one group and unimportant but tolerable for the next. Or essential for one group, beyond the pale for another. This is why I focus on which underlying ethics and norms groups are driven by.
by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 01:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is why I focus on which underlying ethics and norms groups are driven by.

Hmmm.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:23:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the "scandal" is that the church gave 42,000 € for the expenses of the campaign.

Whose money was it?

If it's contributions from church members, then fine. If it's government money, one way or another, then that's a problem.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:55:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a question how churches in Germany get their funds? Complicated... The "scandal" is framed as there goes our church-tax. Could have funded a military chaplain in Afghanistan, I guess. (Joke. I know that the church gets paid for them by the state.)
by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 02:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if it's "church tax" then it's OK by me, insofar as it's a voluntary tax (though the fact that the state collects it on behalf of the church is problematic). If members of that church disagree with the contribution to a cause, then it's an internal matter for that church (and a test of how democratic it is, perhaps).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to actively apply to get out of paying it (if you grow up in Germany. Otherwise, make sure to put "none" for religion when you register). But it's still tax-deductible, meaning that other taxpayers are still paying for your religion (though this is no longer specific to Germany).

In Italy you can redirect where this tax goes to, but you can't get out of paying it.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 04:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those members who have a problem with it are the most right-wing faction of the CDU. They can't make careers in that party without being paying church members, but they don't like the positions the church takes. It is a problem for sure, but it is NOT my problem, to put it mildly.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 06:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't say "fine" without knowing a bit more about the collection of the churchgoers' money. If it was collected under false pretenses, then it's definitely Not Cool.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 03:46:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Church members fees (church tax) fund a budget that among other things has an item "democracy education and support of democratic initiatives". The money was taken from this title of the budget. The provost okayed that. The synod wasn't asked (would have been optional). The bishop wasn't asked either (optional again).
by Katrin on Sun Feb 9th, 2014 at 05:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It meets Jake's demand of universality, too: you have the right to hurt my religious feelings, and I have the right to hurt your inexistent ones.

Well, yeah. Mockery, derision and public shaming and humiliation all have their place in the political arsenal. To believe otherwise is naive in the extreme.

You ask if people should be forced to listen to religious organisations. Why don't you ask if people should be forced to listen to anyone. Or you could have posed the question: should people be forced to listen to arguments from all corners, without prejudice. Why did you pose your question in the way you did?

Because bogus arguments (and in a society which practices freedom of religion, doctrinal political arguments are definitionally bogus) don't get to demand an equal hearing. Creationists should not get equal time to teach the (non-existent) controversy, Catholics should not get equal time to spew lies about condoms being ineffective, or abortions causing cancer. Public discourse does have some obligation to discriminate between what is likely and possible and what is puerile fantasy and fairie tales.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 04:06:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Creationists should not get equal time to teach the (non-existent) controversy, Catholics should not get equal time to spew lies about condoms being ineffective, or abortions causing cancer.

or pols telling us solar doesn't work, or that harvesting free energy from the wind is more expensive than getting it from nukes or gas or coal.

and if religious people help out in social issues they get kudos for that, and that alone, not because they scored brownie points with their religion for doing so and demand recognition more for that than the noble action itself, which needs no further justification than simple humanity.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 05:38:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is entirely arbitrary, of course; but how could an "objective" mechanism for recognition of religions work?

The treatment of the church of scientology is religious persecution


Much as I agree with your conclusion, I really don't buy the argument: Scientology is quite clearly an abusive cult in a way that compares unfavorably even to American televangelists. That's obvious from even a cursory examination of the power structure.

You can argue, of course, that all religions (or even all human institutions) fall somewhere on that spectrum. I would disagree. I would argue that the use of certain social control techniques set cults apart from mainline religious movements. But even if one buys that argument, a large enough difference in degree is indistinguishable from a difference in kind.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 06:11:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but with scientology, there are several distinct concerns that should be treated separately :

  1. the State not discriminating between belief systems
  2. fiscal status : clearly, Scientology should be taxed as a business, not as a non-profit (as most religions probably would be, as long as the audits checked out)
  3. mind-control cults, against which the state must provide safeguards, independently of the other two concerns.

I have friends who were briefly members/clients of some motivational-method organisation, which claimed no religious status, and was later dissolved under French anti-cult law.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle, I agree. In practice, since coercive cults insinuate themselves into every aspect of their victims' lives, including their beliefs and ideology, I am not convinced that 1 and 3 can be as cleanly split as one might in principle like.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:50:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that consensus here, that our beliefs and ethical norms carry the same weight than the rules of games?

I think in context, the discussion is about the weight of those principles when invoked to justify an act in conflict with some basic rights and laws. Then, the question is: is there a potentially law-breaking act which should be defensible on the basis of one's beliefs and ethical norms but indefensible only on the basis of the rules of a game?

I can more readily see a difference if the subject is the extent to which those affected by the ban feel wronged and the value of making a stand by breaking an unreasonable law banning a specific practice. However, I see a continuous one: playing a forbidden but harmless game is less of a feat than wearing a forbidden religious item, which is still less of a feat than, say, breaking apartheid rules for racial segregation.

Then again, I don't see where debating this subject leads in the context of your argument about minority rights. I'd argue that both banning animists from practising witch hunts is and banning gamers from playing manhunt with live ammo would be justified on the basis of defending the right to life, while both banning role-players from dressing up as mages and banning banning the wearing of headscarves would be an irrational act motivated by the disdain of a majority against a minority. I think with regards to your argument that the bans on the veil are in truth attacks against minority rights, it doesn't matter that the minority is a religious one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 07:11:42 AM EST
DoDo:
I think with regards to your argument that the bans on the veil are in truth attacks against minority rights, it doesn't matter that the minority is a religious one.
 

There are not enough plain racists arguing against scarves and for the downright exclusion of minorities to be successful. You can only get a limited support for demands to kick all foreigners out because they take away our jobs and our housing and our benefits or to strip them of their humanity. There are some nasty organisations and demands, but they are not for polite company. Making it a defence of secularism against the foreigners who bring their foreign religion brings support from people who would be embarassed otherwise.

DoDo:

I think in context, the discussion is about the weight of those principles when invoked to justify an act in conflict with some basic rights and laws. Then, the question is: is there a potentially law-breaking act which should be defensible on the basis of one's beliefs and ethical norms but indefensible only on the basis of the rules of a game?

Agree. Think of conscientous objection, for instance. It took a lot of effort to make that a right, and millions had to break the law before conscientous objection became a right. There are different ways to arrive at the underlying ethics when refusing military service, religious and non-religious ones, but they can't be equalled with playing games.

By the way, if atheist privilege to eliminate religiously informed ethics from the public sphere had prevailed, the movement for conscientous objection would probably have been too weak to be successful.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 08:41:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are not enough plain racists arguing against scarves and for the downright exclusion of minorities to be successful...

Discriminators always look to expand their following by corrupting respectable views. Middle Age anti-Semites invented the blood libel. The slave-holders in the US South incorporated the traces of ancient Middle East slavery in the Bible into their ideology, making modern slavery divinely ordained. 19th century anti-Semites adapted religiously rooted anti-Semitism by adding Enlightement-era ethnic nationalism. Throughout the ages, the enslavement of other people for the enrichment of the few in the form of colonialism was justified to the home population with lofty goals (Roman Empire: bring civilisation and peace, Spain: bring Christianity to the pagans, British Empire: bring civilisation, US empire: bring freedom & democracy). The fact that Islamophobes used secularism to mainstream their racism/xenophobia is specific to the case, and what really matters is that people's secularism was subverted, rather than that secularism was subverted.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:13:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Think of conscientous objection

Good point, I haven't thought of that kind of law-breaking.

atheist privilege to eliminate religiously informed ethics from the public sphere

Hm, now I also arrived at the point where I don't understand your use of "privilege".

privilege - definition of privilege by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

a. A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste.

I don't see how any of that fits your usage above. Perhaps you meant another word? I would guess you meant "policy".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I mean privilege as in exercising rights without conceding the same rights to others. We are reaching a stage where religious right-wingers and atheist left-wingers agree that religious is the same as right-wing. People like me are thrown under the bus from both sides, and suddenly there is a gap unbridgeable by arguments.

What sort of law-breaking have you been thinking of?

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean privilege as in exercising rights without conceding the same rights to others

Hm.

  1. You could say that once religiously informed ethics are eliminated from the public sphere, that gives a privilege to arguments not based in religion. But arguments not based in religion aren't "atheist": for example, both theists and atheists can argue on the basis of existing laws, democratic majorities, common interests or the Public Good, etc. I suggest that rather than atheists having a privilege, what you think of is a restriction on religionists (which is not a mirror image).

  2. Your original sentence, however, doesn't appear to make sense with privilege as right: the only thing I can consider as a right "to eliminate religiously informed ethics from the public sphere" is our right to vote in a referendum, and that right is not exclusive to atheists, nor technically denied to theists. Nor has it been exercised this way anywhere so far, to my knowledge. (This may come down to semantics, but then it is the semantics that made me fail to understand what you meant first.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, if atheist privilege to eliminate religiously informed ethics from the public sphere had prevailed, the movement for conscientous objection would probably have been too weak to be successful.
That's turning social reality on its head. It's evidence of religious privilege that conscientious objectors who claimed to be based on secular humanist principles would have been treated more harshly than those claiming religious principles. Possibly because the authoritarians administering military service were inclined to accord religious objections greater respect. That is religious privilege. Not a "failure of atheist privilege to prevail".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 10:00:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes; from the history given in the Wikipedia article, it started at a time atheism was practically illegal. What happened was that the religious privilege (granted to Mennonites and Quakers) was expanded to non-religious causes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:25:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The position of supporting conscientous objection crept into the mainstream churches too, at the same time. Mainstream churches havemilitary chaplains and so, and  at the same time they give support to conscientous objectors.

When my husband reached military age in the early Seventies he had to appear before a commission which decided if he had really a conscience and would be allowed to object, and he had to bring two testimonies from persons describing his pacifist conscience. Long hair was an argument against the existence of a conscience. The testimonies were by his local parson, where my husband was active in the community, and by his mother, a refugee who described that war was how as a child she had to walk from Pomerania to Schleswig-Holstein in the first months of 45, and that she had taught her children accordingly. My husband's conscience was immediately recognised after they had read these two documents.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:28:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Katrin had made up this concept on the spur of the moment, since I had never encountered it before. Since she categorises me thus, without providing any definition as to what she understands by this term, I went hunting for references.

So while waiting for her to explain what she means by it (actually... not expecting her to offer any definition at all, I predict she will prefer to attack the messenger instead), here's what I found.

Atheism and White Privilege | a small dark light

I agree with W Kamau Bell. Atheism is an expression of white privilege in the sense that whites have the privilege of being atheist. Make no mistake: society affords no "atheist privilege."

The phenomenon of religiosity is cultural in the short term--it's about identity: you're generally theist if your parents or community is theist. Thus religiosity and areligiosity in a community are both possible Nash equilibria. However, cultures change, and they change based on the costs society imposes on deviating individuals. Racism takes social and financial capital (ie, networks and credit) away from blacks, increasing the cost of atheism. Because of racism, society sustains the equilibrium state of religiosity in black communities more effectively than in white communities.

I pretty much agree with this (making allowances for Americano-centricity) : atheism is a "privilege" only available to "white" people. To reformulate : atheism is an option available mostly to people who are economically and culturally independent.

Nothing here about any advantages conferred by atheism, so I don't suppose this is what Katrin means.

A couple more :

OKAY HOLD ON LET ME CHECK MY PRIVILEGE | Atheist Privilege

Privilege

  • Since there's no such thing as "hell", I'm not encumbered by "morals".
  • I don't have the burden of self-awareness or social skills; I can butt into conversations at any time and spout my views whenever I want.
  • I can spend my valuable Sunday mornings jacking off to anime and chugging Mountain Dew instead of wasting my time in "church".

Atheist Privilege Checklist

ATHEIST PRIVILEGE CHECKLIST

  1. I provide my own "daily bread."
  2. I can be sure that my innate intelligence, talent, work ethic, genetic superiority, and honesty has resulted in my grasp of the truth.
  3. I can be sure that those who do not share my non-beliefs are inferior to me.
  4. I can be confident that beliefs other than mine lead mostly to misery, prejudice, poverty, discrimination, and wholesale ignorance.
  5. I can be confident, when participating in groups of like-minded individuals, to find people of my race, gender, education and income level well-represented.
  6. I can turn on the television, go to the movies, surf the web, or open up the front page of the paper and see people of my non-belief widely represented.
  7. I can go into a bookstore and be sure to find my ideas and opinions widely represented.
  8. I can mock religious people and be sure others will join me.
  9. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the superiority of their non-beliefs.
  10. I can dismiss the beliefs of the world's majority without feeling guilty.

And I'm sure there's lots more.

While I like the first (satirical) definition better, the second check-list seems to better correspond to the cardboard-cutout representation of me that Katrin seems to bring to our discussions. So I'll take it as a working definition of what the term means to her, for the meantime.

The key point here is that, although atheism doesn't appear to confer any material or practical advantage, atheists [and they're all the same, you know] are perceived to consider themselves superior to people who believe in a god.

My own point of view is that, while atheism may indeed be a philosophical choice enabled by a relatively privileged situation, the same is true of just about all independent political or philosophical thought, and is nothing to apologise for. And I don't perceive any privileges conferred by lack of religious belief (there are no doubt advantages, but advantages are not the same as privileges).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 09:50:58 AM EST
[Alistair]
Beliefs are a private matter; that is the beginning and end of it for me.

[Katrin] But not for me. But, since you claim atheist privilege, that won't interest you.

So, "atheist privilege" is the right not to be interested in other people's beliefs? Is that it? And this is what I am alleged to claim for myself?

It doesn't sound right to me, because this attitude is by no means confined to atheists. To put it mildly.

And concerning me personally, I am always intensely interested in other people's beliefs. (but that is not the same thing as respecting them, or accomodating them.)

However, I do claim the right not to have my liberties restricted by other people's beliefs. And because I care a lot about other people's liberties, I don't like to see them restricted by other people's beliefs, either.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:18:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
I do claim the right not to have my liberties restricted by other people's beliefs.

Who is trying that? The only liberty at risk is that of Muslim women who want to wear veils. YOU want to restrict it.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the article I posted below. There's a war on in France. An [unholy] alliance of the religious against the government's socially progressive agenda.

Sorry if the facts offend you, but in this struggle, the only audible religious voices are on the wrong side.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have often thought of leaving ET because of the aggression against even mentioning religion without condemning it. Very off-putting indeed. And now you wonder where audible voices are, who might argue religion and progressive politics. Funny!
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But "atheist privilege?". <sigh>
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:59:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am open to suggestions of a better term.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 02:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you want to claim religious people are socially disadvantaged and nonreligious people are unaware of it?

Which planet do you live on, again?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:00:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which precise place on the planet are we talking about just now?
by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anywhere. Where do you see "atheist privilege"? I still see public religiosity correlated with social status in much of Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 09:47:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden, I would say that the corelation between professing religious beliefs and status is mostly negative. Of course there are exceptions, but in the main taking religion seriously is at best a bit goofy. Having a high position within church of Sweden hierarchy is of course high status, but then the ones that make it to the top are the ones who make sure to leave God out of their public appearances, or at least make it a rather vague divinity. I think the last arch bishop is on record that the god he beliefs in is not external, making it an aspect of the human condition instead of a heavenly father.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 01:14:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly Lutheran Europe is different. But then again, according to Wikipedia Lutherans are less than 10% of the people of Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not saying that in the society I am discriminated against. That would be nonsense. There are a few places where any mention of religion gets an aggressive reaction and is stereotyped. ET is such a place. Hey, I am an individual, not responsible for all the bad experiences some here seem to have made with religion.

And that is the parallel with the women who are banned from wearing scarves and veils: all sorts of things are projected on them, and their persons disappear completely from the debate.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I am an individual, not responsible for all the bad experiences some here seem to have made with religion.

The bad experiences weren't made, they were inflicted. And of course believers do their best to wilfully ignore them - which is why, for example, it's taken the best part of fifty years of activism to finally begin making the Catholic Church responsible for its utterly shameful treatment of the victims of priestly paedophilia, and of the physical and emotional abuse that was considered 'normal' among monks and nuns who were teachers in Ireland, the UK, the US, and Canada - among others.

To dismiss these experiences as irrelevant to this thread when they happened, and continue to happen, in the communities of interest you consider 'oppressed', is simple intellectual dishonesty.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 05:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
The bad experiences weren't made, they were inflicted.
 

Thanks for the language note.

ThatBritGuy:

To dismiss these experiences as irrelevant to this thread when they happened, and continue to happen, in the communities of interest you consider 'oppressed', is simple intellectual dishonesty

Hm, I am wondering about standards for dispassionate replies. It is possible that I missed some valid argument between the diatribes, but I think you have only raised two valid arguments on this thread: you complained about a policy of the state UK that includes religion in the curriculum of state schools upthread. And you complain about the sexual and other abuse of children that was enabled by the structure (mainly the hierarchical nature) of the (Catholic) church, and again (as in the case of the curriculum) the interlocking of the institutions of state and church. Your complaints are about structures exercising power. I completely share this criticism. Structures of institutions of state and church must be separated, everything else is damaging for both sides.

My topic here is human rights. I am talking about attempts to empty the public space of references to religion, which seriously narrows down the debate of ethical questions. And, related, the attempts to blame some minorities for our social and political problems and to take their human rights away. And what happens to human rights when you exclude one group of humans from enjoying them? They are no longer human rights.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 08:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My topic here is human rights.

No, your topic here is religious rights. Only you believe the two are synonymous.

You also seem to believe that of all the various human rights that could be discussed, religious rights trump all the others, including the right of atheists not to have to deal with religious politics at all, except as a freely-made informed and consenting adult choice.

This is such a poorly supported right that it's not particularly possible in most European countries, and completely impossible elsewhere - including in the US.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 08:39:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are putting words into my mouth again.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you see "atheist privilege" on ET but not in society at large, where the situation is more one of "(mainstream) religious privilege".

That's not "atheist privilege" on ET, that would be ET being a "safe space" for secularists since society at large exhibits "religious privilege".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 04:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An exclusionary space for atheist sectarianism only.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 08:45:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, when you in Germany have an atheist Chancellor or a President who's not a Lutheran Pastor you can stop claiming that the German Lutheran Church is some little ghetto that does not enjoy "privilege".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So religions don't enjoy special privilege in Israel (Ben-Gurion, Meir, Rabin were all atheists) or India (Nehru)? Italy even has an atheist President right now.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just taking on Katrin's victim complex right now.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:12:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious freedom of belief = basic human rights.
Atheist freedom of belief = shamefully oppressive and exclusive sectarian privilege.

Are we done here yet? I think the unintentional performance art started a while back.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:27:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the liberty at risk is that of atheists not having to waste time debating clothing choices with people who think being religious means that their clothing choices are Somehow Very Very Important.

Which is so obviously special pleading and a claim on privilege it's not even funny.

You realise that in reality no one gets a free pass with clothing? If I think it's too hot to wear clothes in public - which does happen, even in England, albeit only about twice a decade - I don't get to decide that I can go shopping in the nude.

Nor do naturists, some of whom have spiritual justifications for not wearing clothes (and apparently a much greater tolerance for cold than I have.)

But this does not concern you. You are exclusively concerned by the 'right' of the religious to:

  1. Persuade themselves that their clothing choices are infinitely more important than anyone else's, because religion.

  2. To indoctrinate their children in the same wacky beliefs, no matter what damage it does them. (And as I've said before, I'm speaking from experience - but this doesn't interest you, because someone who disagrees with you cannot possibly be correct, even though they were once one of those children you so bravely argue should be 'saved' from the evils of secularisation through your pretended interest in personal freedom.)

  3. Never expose their children to competing beliefs, ditto.

  4. To waste everyone else's time on this nonsense when there are more important topics to worry about. Like human extinction.

A hundred years from now most of the ecosystem will be trashed. But at least a few women will still be able to wear a burqa.

Is that really what you want?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:14:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This sounds as if you think a burqa ban rescues the ecosystem. What has the list in your post to do with me? Why are you saying I was "exclusively concerned by the 'right' of the religious to:"?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I made that expression up indeed. In reply to your fascinating invention of the religious privilege that you say I argue. And in reply to your demand that all religion must be locked away in the private sphere, which incidentally would leave only atheism visible in the public. How is that not arguing atheist privilege?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:55:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious privilege and religious prerogative were introduced to discussion by Jake, not by me.

It's very clever of you to avoid defining your terms (atheist privilege?) or defining your own position on religious privilege. This means that there is nothing to discuss or to refute; so you win! Congratulations.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I can butt in here, trying to salvage the discussion: this notion of religion in the private sphere caught my eyes, too, and IMHO it is a concept applicable to Anglican-dominated societies (due to the taming of Anglicanism by the state) and France (due to the secular traditions). That is, it is based on societies where religion was largely pushed back into the private sphere long ago (and that not necessarily by atheists), and ignores that most versions of religions very much extend to behaviour and appearance in the public space (for the worse or the better).

On the other side, you come from a culture where grass-roots religious groups did contribute to major progressive movements in a major way, but IMHO that is also exceptional: the only other examples I can think of now are in the USA (and even there, the influence of fundie grass-roots or top-down groups far outweigh them).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:42:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These are concepts of secularity developped in order to break the power of (former) state religions. They are now applied to minority religions.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:53:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I meant is that you took needless violent offence at a point eurogreen made without realising its cultural roots, while he himself and some others here are equally ignorant of the religious grass-roots elements of the peace, anti-nuclear, anti-fascist and refugee-supporting movements which was significant in Germany but not so much elsewhere and can only think of the likes of Opus Dei and Duane Gish. IOW I tried to calm the debate.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:03:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the debate surely needs that.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or as a reaction to over a century of religious wars. So people decided religion had to be taken out of politics for the good of civilization. Which is why the attempts to resurrect religious civil law "in order to accommodate immigrants" is seen as the thin edge of the wedge for the return of religious war.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:13:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
the attempts to resurrect religious civil law "in order to accommodate immigrants"

What are these attempts?

by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 04:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and where do they happen? I have no idea what you mean.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, in Britain for example. Archbishop backs sharia law for British Muslims (7 February 2008)

Also, the Netherlands reintroduced sex segregation in public schools in order to encourage schooling of muslim girls (Bjinse can correct me if I'm wrong).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:02:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, that. This is a less alarmist version of the story:
Rowan Williams and sharia law | openDemocracy
Nowhere in the lecture does Williams call for the implementation of sharia law - thoughthis has become the default assumption underlying the febrile controversy the talk and its accompanying media coverage almost instantly generated. Rather, heasks how it might be possible for the civil law to accommodate some of the legal procedures by which Muslim communities in Britain have traditionally regulatedtheir relationships and financial affairs, while safeguarding the equality and human rights afforded by modern law for vulnerable individuals (particularly women) within those communities. He reiterates several times that it would be important to ensure that "no `supplementary' jurisdiction could have the power to deny access to the rights granted to other citizens or to punish its members for claiming those rights." He also points out that there is already provision in English law for Jewish and Christian communities to have some autonomy over the governance of their religious affairs, without thereby putting themselves outside the law

Rowan Williams and sharia law | openDemocracy
the furious response to the archbishop's comments reveals a great deal about the hostility and ignorance with regard to Islam which forms a potent undercurrent in Britain's ostensibly multi-cultural society. It is also a reminder - if such reminders are needed - that this is a woefully anti-intellectual society, fed on a daily diet of the tabloid press and reality television, and apparently incapable of engaging in intelligent public debate about significant issues. Serious journalists who ought to know better have derided Williams for being too scholarly; the widespread belief seems to be that he has only himself to blame if people failed to grasp the subtleties of his argument. The logic of this message is that public figures must "dumbdown" or be damned.

What exactly are your objections to Williams' proposal?

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what is gained by fragmenting personal status law and enabling community courts.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Me neither, but it has already happened when they did the same for Christians and Jews. You said "in order to accommodate immigrants", and that sounded as if you mean something new had to be introduced. In reality the purpose seems to be to give Muslims rights Christians and Jews already enjoy. Sounds fair.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, there are Christian and Jewish community courts with jurisdiction over civil disputes in Britain?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:43:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But only Muslims are dangerous. And immigrants whose needs must not be accomodated.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a source for that? Do Christian community churches get to decide on matters of personal status law such as divorce or paternity?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:55:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a few years since I read on that, so I have no sources ready. As far as I remember the courts decide on cases that are uninteresting outside their respective communities: religious divorce and so for people who are already legally divorced and want to religiously marry again. The courts cannot (bindingly) decide on custody for children. There is not much potential for controversy, which is probably why the courts are so little known. The sharia courts which exist in Britain (oh yes!) have become attractive for non-Muslims too: they work quickly. Under the arbitration act you can take your differences about the plumber's invoice there if the other party agrees to that too. And sharia, developed in a society of merchants, is well able to settle such controversies satisfactorily. (The Guardian had an article ages ago)

I am still of the opinion ALL these religious courts should be abolished.

by Katrin on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding sources, I note that it was in Katrin's quote:

Rowan Williams and sharia law | openDemocracy

He also points out that there is already provision in English law for Jewish and Christian communities to have some autonomy over the governance of their religious affairs, without thereby putting themselves outside the law.

From what I can see, Williams only referred to Orthodox Jewish practice, though. On that, here is a source from the time of the controversy:

BBC NEWS | UK | Religious courts already in use

...Jewish courts are in daily use in Britain, and have been for centuries.>

British Jews, particularly the orthodox, will frequently turn to their own religious courts, the Beth Din, to resolve civil disputes, covering issues as diverse as business and divorce.

...Both sides in a dispute must be Jewish, obviously, and must have agreed to have their case heard by the Beth Din. Once that has happened, its eventual decision is binding. English law states that any third party can be agreed by two sides to arbitrate in a dispute, and in this case the institutional third party is the Beth Din.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 08:09:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, the Netherlands reintroduced sex segregation in public schools in order to encourage schooling of muslim girls (Bjinse can correct me if I'm wrong).

As far as I know, this hasn't happened. I've never heard about this, although that doesn't mean much. Google and a search through the Dutch newspaper database don't render any hits either. There is always the off-chance it hasn't been big in the news and politicians haven't heard about it, although that'd be doubtful, considering the topic.

Secondly, such policy doesn't make immediate sense to me but when dealing with politicians, that doesn't mean much either. But if I recall the statistics correctly, Muslim girls are doing much better in the Dutch education system than Muslim boys, plus the past years have seen an overall improvement for both sexes - although it's still far from optimal.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I only found this: Battle brewing over single-sex classes for Muslim women which is not about schools but about "integration classes" for immigrants.

The co-ed schools story may have been distorted in the foreign press.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:45:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd suspect so, there's a big difference between integration classes and public schools. Integration classes are the domain of the municipalities, and each can shape these courses at their own behest. The kerfuffle the linked article references is about a minister's chagrin that some municipalities did organise segregated classes, and some others appeared to be - but it turned out only women signed up for these classes. In total there were 27 Dutch counties (out of 400) that had specifically sex segregated courses, but all of these were only part of a longer programme. All municipalities defended their choice on practical grounds.

Hardly worth a sizzle.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most jurisdictions have provisions for legal recognition of informal arbitration, within certain limits.

Provided proper measures are taken to prevent such informal arbitration from evolving into a full-blown parallel judicial system, there is nothing inherently wrong with this.

In other words, I'm perfectly fine with consenting adults deciding to use Sharia law in informal arbitration, and have it legally recognized to the same extent that such arbitration would be legally recognized if it were based on Klingon law, Bob the Bartender's say-so, or indeed any other mutually agreed standard.

Crucially, however, this should include the right to reject that standard at any time and for any reason, and appeal any disputes outstanding after such a rejection to a court of law.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 04:25:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
atheists [and they're all the same, you know] are perceived to consider themselves superior to people who believe in a god.

hardly surprising considered they were in danger of execution if they expressed their unbelief publically when religion held full sway in europe.

it may be stupid, unnecessary and wrong, but it is understandable...

humans like to feel superior, whether buttressed by belief in religion or not. they also like to be bonded by belief-systems, so atheists may well prefer hiring an employee cut from the same spiritual cloth, just as masons do.

i think atheism comes a lot easier to a formally educated mind, one who probably saw through the irrefutable contradictions touted as 'god's word' or similar nonsense jammed down childrens' throats in the hope that they will love their neighbour more, maybe some do because of it, but i have my doubts.

i remember having 'divinity' classes around 14 where an endearingly goofy but dim anglican priest endeavoured to teach us about christianity. no-one took him seriously, he was teased mercilessly.

i remember asking him after class one day how we were supposed to use the experiences of a palestianian shepherd (as depicted in the pictures with his crook and a lamb or two) as guide to modern day life.

he thought for a moment, then shook his head and said "i really have no idea".

;) so much for that.

what was he going to say? "fight the power!" or "give foot rubs"?

help get a cushy job boring adolescents into numbed acquiescence, more like...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 12:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not an atheist - well, technically an agnostic - because I enjoy feeling superior to stupid religious types.

I don't think religious types are all stupid. Some clearly aren't. But they do seem to be delusional, not very fond of reality, and liable to obsess about trivia while missing real problems.

I'm aggressively anti-religious because religion has been a Pandora's Box of woes and evils for most of recorded history, and continues to be a major source of social and political problems - not because of any particular set of religious beliefs, but because as a social and psychological process it's fundamentally anti-realistic and based on considerations of personal status and tribal face and conformity.

What people can wear in public is not an important problem. No one will die because certain clothes are not allowed in schools. They may get a bit miffed and outraged, but hey - welcome to grown-up world where you can't always do what you want.

It's all about social values and contexts. And religion is very, very good at distorting both for its own ends.

Things like:

Indian rape culture
The USian money cult
For-profit war-mongers
Sociopathic authoritarians of every stripe
Out-of-control corporations and their cheap-to-buy lackeys in governments
Dinosaur brown energy vs sustainable green energy
The political causes of poverty

...are all literally life-threatening. Some are planet-threatening.

And that's just the bad stuff. Imagining a world where none of these are problem and new things become possible is also important.

Obsessing about clothing choices, or even about abortion and Teh Gay, is like ranting that you don't like the vase on the mantelpiece when the house has been on fire for hours and the roof is about to fall in.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 06:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
What people can wear in public is not an important problem. No one will die because certain clothes are not allowed in schools. They may get a bit miffed and outraged, but hey - welcome to grown-up world where you can't always do what you want

Is it not? Why are the secular authoritarians obsessing on all these bans then? In the full knowledge that the bans on clothes of religious minorities lead to violent attacks on women of these minorities they advocate forced partial nudity of women. People ARE already dying in these attacks, and it is only the beginning.

Most people DO attach importance to what clothes they wear, even if you don't. It is part of freedom of expression, and that's a basic human right. I am prepared to defend it, and I wonder what uniformed hell you would implement if you could.

"They" may get a bit miffed and outraged, you say, but hey--it's "they". It is perfectly okay to humiliate "them". You don't feel any solidarity with the minorities who are publicly humiliated. You must feel very sure of your privileges. Well, I think your allies have a surprise or two in store for you when it is too late.

ThatBritGuy:

I don't think religious types are all stupid. Some clearly aren't. But they do seem to be delusional, not very fond of reality, and liable to obsess about trivia while missing real problems

I am "obsessing" about the disappearance of human rights and freedoms. They are the rights one hasn't to earn, to be competitive for, or to adapt to: you only have to BE something: a human being. Have you any concept of humanity, and what is it? For me policies have to serve humanity, not the other way round.

It is not true that there is something "planet-threatening" afoot, by the way. The planet is in no danger at all. Humanity is.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 08:02:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religiosity and areligiosity in a community are both possible Nash equilibria.

What about being religious 25% of the time and irreligious the remaining 75%?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 10:15:31 AM EST
Au moins 100 000 sympathisants de la Manif pour tous ont défilé en France  At least 100,000 supporters of the Demonstration for All in France
Place Denfert-Rochereau, les organisateurs ont fait huer les ministres de l'éducation Vincent Peillon et des droits des femmes Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.Place Denfert-Rochereau, the organizers hgot the crowd to boo the ministers of education (Vincent Peillon) and women's rights (Najat Belkacem-Vallaud).
DES « REVENDICATIONS IMAGINAIRES »
  "IMAGINARY DEMANDS"
Cette dernière a reproché aux partisans de la Manif pour tous leurs « revendications imaginaires », assurant notamment que le gouvernement n'avait aucune intention d'introduire la GPA dans le droit français. « Les manifestants sont l'expression d'une partie de cette France traditionaliste qui a voulu mobiliser sur la désinformation, les peurs, les rumeurs », a renchéri la ministre déléguée à la famille Dominique Bertinotti sur France Info. Ils « ont voulu d'une certaine façon rejouer le match du mariage pour tous », a-t-elle ajouté. Belkacem accused the supporters of the "Demonstration for All" of making imaginary demands . In particular, she assured that the government had no intention to introduce gestational surrogacy into French law. " The demonstrators are expressing a part of this traditionalist France who wanted to mobilize on disinformation, fears, rumors the minister for the family, Dominique Bertinotti, claimed on France Info. "They wanted to replay the match of marriage for all" she added.
Dans une interview au Journal du dimanche, Manuel Valls avait exprimé son inquiétude face au climat actuel, déclarant que l'on assistait « à la création d'un Tea Party à la française », une référence à l'aile ultraconservatrice du Parti républicain américain. Constat partagé par Harlem Désir, premier secrétaire du PS, qui a dénoncé « les manipulations et les mensonges sur lesquels une frange réactionnaire essaie de cimenter une opposition à la politique du gouvernement, avec le soutien irresponsable » d'élus UMP. In an interview with the Sunday newspaper , Manuel Valls had expressed his disquiet with the current climate, declaring that we are seeing "the creation of a French Tea Party", a reference to the ultra-conservative wing of the American Republican party. An analysis shared by Harlem Désir, first secretary of the PS, who denounced "manipulations and lies upon which a reactionary fringe tries to cement opposition to government policy, with the irresponsible support of the UMP "
« LES PLUS VIEILLES FRACTURES DE LA SOCIÉTÉ FRANÇAISE »  THE OLDEST FRACTURE LINES OF FRENCH SOCIETY
Le député UMP Henri Guaino, présent dans le cortège parisien, a estimé au contraire que la majorité « cherche à attiser toutes les divisions, à réveiller les plus vieilles fractures de la société française ». The UMP deputy Henri Guaino, present in the Parisian demonstration, claims instead that the government "seeks to stir up all the divisions, to awaken the oldest fracture lines of French society" .
Du côté des protestataires, l'ancienne ministre du logement et présidente d'honneur du Parti chrétien-démocrate, Christine Boutin, s'en est prise la candidate socialiste à la mairie de Paris, Anne Hidalgo : « C'est grâce à vous que les clivages ont sauté. Vous avez raison d'être inquiète et M. Valls a raison d'être inquiet. [...] Je n'ai plus peur de vos totalitarismes. Vous êtes en train de déstructurer la civilisation ».

Lire aussi : Les hésitations de l'UMP face à l'activisme « pro-famille »

Among the protesters, the former minister of housing and Honorary President of the [tiny] Christian Democratic Party, Christine Boutin, went after the Socialist candidate for Mayor Paris, Anne Hidalgo: "It's your fault that the divisions have emerged. You're right to be worried and Mr. Valls is right be worried. [...] I no longer fear your totalitarianism. You are de-structuring civilization" .
A Lyon, quelques élus, dont le député Hervé Mariton (UMP), ont été rejoints par l'archevêque Philippe Barbarin et le recteur de la Grande Mosquée de Lyon, Kamel Kabtane. « On a un témoignage à donner. On a un 'non' à dire tout simple, tout clair, tout fort », a déclaré le prélat. In Lyon, a few elected representatives including the deputy Hervé Mariton (UMP) were joined by archbishop Philippe Barbarin and the rector of the Grand mosque of Lyon, Kamel Kabtane. "We have a testimony to give . We have a 'no' to say, very simple, very clear, very loud " the prelate said.
L'une des revendications de la Manif pour tous concerne le retrait de l'« ABCD de l'égalité », expérimentation mise en place à l'école pour lutter contre les stéréotypes filles-garçons. Les manifestants dénoncent aussi l'ouverture redoutée de la procréation médicalement assistée (PMA) aux lesbiennes et la gestation pour autrui (GPA), ainsi que le futur projet de loi sur la famille qui ne prévoit pourtant ni PMA ni GPA. One of the demands of "Demonstration for All" concerns the withdrawal of the " ABCD of Equality", an exerimental program put in place in schools to struggle against girl-boy stereotypes. Protesters also denounce the dreaded opening of medically-assisted procreation to lesbians and Surrogacy, and the future draft family law which actually includes neither of these two measures.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 11:49:36 AM EST


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:04:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tut mir leid, ich kenne fast keine Franzoesisch.
by rifek on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 01:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never forget that it only takes one political, economic or religious crisis for women's rights to be put in jeapordy. Those rights are never to be taken for granted; you must remain vigilant throughout your life.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 03:46:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Takk.
by rifek on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 07:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To take off on a tangent continuing what I wrote upthread: why is it that this issue could mobilise masses in France but not elsewhere in Europe?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:09:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, masses... 100k.

The Catholic right are very upset about gay marriage etc. and organised demonstrations last year. The UMP, rather recklessly, threw themselves into the struggle to create trouble for the government. This validated the reactionary feelings of a lot of people who would never have gone out to demonstrate otherwise :  as in most countries which have approved gay marriage, they would have let it pass without protest, but mainstream political support made their views apparently respectable again.

Now it gets worse : the hilarious SMS disinformation campaign about the "ABCD" initiative (this campaign seems to have been started by Moslem religious activists, and has apparently struck a nerve among Moslem parents) has done huge damage, and will probably result in the measure being watered down or canned.  The government is in a weak position generally, and will sell out the only progressive measures it has left.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 12:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been plenty of religionist demonstrations of the same character in Spain for the past 10 years or so.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and now they are succeeding in getting the right to abortion repealed. (See Beauvoir, above)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 05:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not because of the demonstrations, though.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 3rd, 2014 at 06:08:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One answer is that Marine Le Pen is steering the Front National towards the centre. A whole bunch of ultra-right freaks no longer feel represented by it. New alliances are formed (and broken off) between religious conservatives, old-style nationalists, skinhead activists... And the themes that mobilise are those of the culture wars, look across the Atlantic...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am on record as being in favour of the ban on headscarves in high schools in France.

It is generally acknowledged that schools have a right to determine standards of dress and behaviour of pupils. I'm guessing most of us have transgressed the standards of our schools at some stage, and we may certainly disagree as to what should be acceptable and what shouldn't; but I think most of us would acknowledge that schools have a right to determine what is acceptable, and to enforce it. (Why schools feel the need to do so is a separate debate; keeping the focus on education, by eliminating distractions and adolescent preening competitions, separation into clans etc. are some of the common ones.)

In this light, I submit that it is not necessary to overload the issue with questions about alleged colonialist, racist, islamophobic or anti-woman motives which might have contributed to the ban. Occam's razor applies. Headscarves were seen as divisive and leading to segregation; this was reason enough.

Public schools in France are the essence of the Jacobin state; egalitarian and homogenising by vocation. I may add that I'm not entirely happy about this historical fact; but it was not constructed against any particular group, neither Bretons, Corsicans, Occitan dialect-speaking peasant children, or the children of North African immigrants. It's just the nature of the beast.

Now obviously, when you have a highly-centralized system which diffuses ill-defined rules about the dress code, and it falls to the heads of high schools to apply them, then all sorts of shit happens. Latent colonialist, racist, islamophobic or anti-woman attitudes may come to the fore. This is not evidence that these were the motives for the rule. It is evidence that the French education system is deeply dysfunctional, and that people are, for the most part, human.

This is tough for adolescents who may wish, or be expected by their family, to cover their hair at all times in public. But it's not a personal attack, nor is it an attack on their culture or their religion. It's the rule. And schools have rules.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:53:36 AM EST
Public schools in France are the essence of the Jacobin state; egalitarian and homogenising by vocation. I may add that I'm not entirely happy about this historical fact; but it was not constructed against any particular group, neither Bretons, Corsicans, Occitan dialect-speaking peasant children, or the children of North African immigrants. It's just the nature of the beast.
Yeah, French Jacobinism is an equal-opportunity minority suppressor :D

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 08:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know why schools should have a say on how pupils dress, apart from practical things like "bring a raincoat to the excursion" or appropriate clothes for sport lessons. But, even if for argument's sake schools should have this right, why headscarves? Pleated skirts perhaps, as a symbol of oppression. Or all things polyester. There are health reasons against piercings...

Why a piece of clothing that is worn by a discriminated minority, eh?

by Katrin on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 02:24:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A friendly suggestion - before debate on this particular tangent goes any further, I suggest this, this and this as precursory reading material. At minimum.

The world could spin an extra round on the energy that already has been channeled into diaries and commentaries at ET on dress codes in France vs Someplace Else. Be careful to tread.

by Bjinse on Tue Feb 4th, 2014 at 03:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The world could spin an extra round on the energy that already has been channeled into diaries and commentaries at ET on dress codes in France vs Someplace Else. Be careful to tread.

Actually, that is what keeps the world  going. And you thought arguments on ET were pointless.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 07:09:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is interesting how many comments these threads get.

spirituality is existential, as much so as better energy policies, georgian economics et al. these diaries attempt to approach the ineffable, even in a roundabout way, and notwithstanding the probable preference of some here that they would just shut up and go away and leave us to our de-stag-in-flation interest rates hairsplitting and rational materialism.

i think it makes a nice balance to the drier subjects continually (and copiously) on hand here.

not a fan of flying fur, but if that's the price we pay for heading closer to the characterial core of what makes us human, that's ok (in appropriate doses)...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:04:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In an ideal world, sure, we would all be free to do what we want. Children included.

In the highly stressed and increasingly stratified and fragmented world in which we live, schools have an important role as a refuge from the outside world.

Rich kids experience a world where they get no special privileges; poor kids, a world where they have the same rights and opportunities as the rich kids. Kids from dysfunctional families experience a world where violence is not OK. Kids whose parents keep them inside a particular sub-culture get to experience an alternative; in particular, religion is banned : both in the content of teaching, and differentiation of kids according to their religion or lack thereof.

(I stress this is the theoretical model. The French education system, in particular, is severely dysfunctional, and successf in implementing this model is rather patchy.)

In the stereotypical fundamentalist Moslem worldview, religion is all-pervasive. Separation of church and state is a nonsense; an Islamic government is an ardent necessity. At the other end of the spectrum, immense numbers of Mosems practise an Islam which is compatible  with the secular state. All shades of opinion and pracise in between these two ends are, of course, represented. But it is important to note that the fundamentalist view is a well-documented reality, and that it is solidly represented in France.

In this context, it is inevitable that fundamentalists will attempt to send their daughters to school with headscarves (note that I am not alleging that all girls who come to school with headscarves come from fundamentalist families; but it is logically impossible that none of them should be from fundamentalist families, unless one denies the existence of the fundamentalist worldview).

This clearly represents a demand that the religion of the family should be introduced into the school along with the girl and the headscarf. It is, logically, the beginning of a process where further demands for taking religion into account can be expected to follow, if the headscarf is accepted (segregation of the sexes is an obvious one). It is, literally and visibly, the thin end of the wedge.

The French school system, as currently constituted, is incapable of accepting this challenge. The question becomes : should the school system, which conceives itself as a standardised and homogenised environment, be reformed so as to be capable of offering differentiated options depending on the orientations of the parents? (the students, in an ideal world, would be consulted, but to simplify, let's consider that they are minors, so the negotiation is between the education system and the families.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 06:42:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(I stress this is the theoretical model. The French education system, in particular, is severely dysfunctional, and successf in implementing this model is rather patchy.)

I was beginning to think you were having a panglossian breakdown until I read that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 07:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
In an ideal world, sure, we would all be free to do what we want. Children included.

My impression, that your and my concepts of an ideal world are worlds apart, and completely incompatible, is deepening.

Rights and freedoms are conflicting with each other, and they must constantly be weighed against each other. We are of course never free to do all we want. In an ideal world there would be justice in the weighing-rights-business.

eurogreen:

This clearly represents a demand that the religion of the family should be introduced into the school along with the girl and the headscarf.

This extraordinary claim CLEARLY needs to be backed up by evidence. Your solution, the ban on headscarves, solves a problem that exists in your fantasy.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:26:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My remark about an ideal world was a mildly ironic reference to your remark that children should be allowed to wear what they like in school. Of course, you immediately listed a bunch of restrictions on that. One more, one less... Apparently only religious motives are supposed to override all others, in your world view (I felt naked not being allowed to wear jeans to high school... you no doubt felt the same... guess what, we got over it!)

As for the problem that, according to you, only exists in my fantasy... This puts you in the position of denying the existence of the fundamentalist worldview. That, based on my experience, is astoundingly naïve.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:47:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Ah. I wasn't saying that children should be free to wear what they like in school. I was (and am) saying that it is none of the school's business. It was my parents who banned the jeans, not the state or the school. Have you grown up with school uniforms? Horrible totalitarianism. Authoritarian rightwingers try to introduce that here, but it is new and not very successful.

eurogreen:

As for the problem that, according to you, only exists in my fantasy... This puts you in the position of denying the existence of the fundamentalist worldview.

Er no. The fundamentalist worldview doubtless exists. So do spiders. I don't deny that. But, a problem? It takes decades of dumbing down enough people before you get a critical mass of fundamentalists, and France isn't exactly the Bible Belt.

And what has the headscarf to do with fundamentalism? And how can a ban, the loss of freedom, be a measure against fundamentalism? And can you please make clear if you are against religion in the public, or if you want to influence ("moderate") religions? The fog thickens the more you write. The only thing where you are consistent and clear is ban ban ban.

If you want a right of the state to influence religion, you are against a separation of state and church. Say what you want.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:30:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It takes decades of dumbing down enough people before you get a critical mass of fundamentalists

You don't need a critical mass. Any religious distortion by fundamentalists of whatever stripe is already too much.

If you want a right of the state to influence religion, you are against a separation of state and church.

Please stop spouting obvious nonsense. By that 'logic', if I don't want prayer in schools I'm arguing against the separation of church and state because I'm in conflict with religious people who do want prayer in schools.

Which is clearly rubbish.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want a right of the state to influence religion, you are against a separation of state and church.
Please stop spouting obvious nonsense.
Do we really need to go yet again through the difference between
  • freedom of conscience
  • separation of church and state
  • secularism
and the fact that the application of each of these principles varies by country and not all of them necessarily go together?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps that should be a staple post every time a discussion hinging on religion manifests. Like a safety manifest. Listen folks, buckle up, but please pay attention to these few security measures. Paper bags for vomiting are situated on your left. Or on your right, depending on the stance your argue for.

This would save a lot of energy for all Tribbers involved - although this would also slow down the earth's rotation, so there's that.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:08:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
You don't need a critical mass. Any religious distortion by fundamentalists of whatever stripe is already too much

I must say you are a pretty fundamentalist sort of atheist.

ThatBritGuy:

By that 'logic', if I don't want prayer in schools I'm arguing against the separation of church and state because I'm in conflict with religious people who do want prayer in schools.

You must decide if you want a separation of state and church, which leaves the religious groups free to be as fundamental as they please. Or you can have an interlocking, which is mutual. Then the state can influence and "moderate" religion. It is more or less how religion is regulated in Germany. A church is something that is founded by Paul or by Luther, everything else is a sect and not quite. There is the Islamkonferenz of ministry on one side and Muslim organisations on the other, trying to adapt the concept to Islam.

What Eurogreen wants is no influence of the church on the state, but influence the other way round. It won't work. What you want is unclear.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:00:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What Eurogreen wants is no influence of the church on the state, but influence the other way round.

... words in my mouth?

Where have I said I want the state to have influence over religions?

On the contrary. If religious organisations were to have exactly the same status as any other non-profit group, as I advocate, then there is no mechanism by which the state can have influence over religions in particular. Everyone is subject to the same laws. If any religious group wishes to situate itself above the law, and the state represses that, it's not repression of religion.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:08:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
... words in my mouth?

Sorry. What then do you mean when you say you don't want fundamentalist Islam, but one that is compatible with the French secular state? For me that is a demand of the state on religion. And with the illusion that it works one way only.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I want is distinct from what I expect the State to do on my behalf. I dislike fundamentalist Islam, and I believe its practice to be incompatible with the French secular state. This is because fundamentalist Islam is incapable of recognising any authority higher than Islam itself, and therefore rejects the authority of any secular state. This is factual, and not fantasy on my part.

However, I don't wish for the state to somehow intervene to "reform Islam", or interfere with its practices, insofar as they stay within the law. That would be unwarranted interference.  I would prefer fundamentalist Islam to wither away, within France at least.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I believe some state intervention would be justified to level the playing field. I believe that the established churches (mainly Catholic, in France) benefit from an unwarranted subsidy, and I would be in favour of redistribution which would facilitate the provision of places of worship for Moslems (this seems to be so uncontroversial that it has warranted no comments so far!)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
fundamentalist Islam is incapable of recognising any authority higher than Islam itself, and therefore rejects the authority of any secular state.

Say "deeply held beliefs" instead of "Islam". So do I. So did Rosa Parks. Or countless conscientous objectors. And you? Is there nothing you believe in and are prepared to break the law of the secular state for?

eurogreen:

What I want is distinct from what I expect the State to do on my behalf.

Intriguing. How do you expect your wish to come true? Ah, I have got it: probably you pray for divine intervention. ;)

eurogreen:

However, I don't wish for the state to somehow intervene to "reform Islam", or interfere with its practices, insofar as they stay within the law. That would be unwarranted interference.  I would prefer fundamentalist Islam to wither away, within France at least.

I can agree with that, provided the law is fair (which bans on women's clothes are not), and provided you don't single out Islam with your focus on fundamentalism.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Say "deeply held beliefs" instead of "Islam". So do I. So did Rosa Parks. Or countless conscientous objectors. And you? Is there nothing you believe in and are prepared to break the law of the secular state for?

Sure. We could make lists, and I bet we would agree on most of the points.

But I don't reject the authority of the state which governs the territory in which I live. If I did, I would be a revolutionary, an anarchist, or a libertarian.

People have a right to be those things, and they have a right to agitate for the overthrow of the state, but when their activities fall outside the law, they are repressed by the state. I consider this legitimate, to the degree that I consider any given state to be legitimate. I am not a revolutionary in the context of France.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:16:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you assume the veil had a nexus with "rejecting the authority of the state", but of course you have no evidence that in reality this plays a role in a relevant degree.

And that's what you want to ban women's clothes for. I repeat: women's clothes, not acts of overthrowing the state. Really, what next?

But at least you no longer pretend your ban was about liberating women.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you assume the veil had a nexus with "rejecting the authority of the state"

A statement such as "The school has no right to determine what my daughter should or should not wear. My religion is the only authority on that question" is typical of arguments of parents with respect to the issue.

This is consistent with a fundamentalist Islamic world view, which we both acknowledge exists in France. It is therefore empirically likely that rejection of state authority is among the motives of parents (though sophisticated parents will avoid advocating such a thing publicly). It is, in any case, logically impossible for you to prove the contrary.

But at least you no longer pretend your ban was about liberating women.
Oh, but I do.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 06:01:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The statement is entirely consistent with insistence on religious freedom, too. The school--which is compulsory--has no right to determine that children must violate rules of their religion. You deny that this conflict is existing, with your theory that veils had a nexus with Islamist-revolutionary intention (such a nexus is existing, but to which extent is pure guesswork).

If you still want to liberate women by banning their clothes, why not ban pleated skirts? You could liberate many more women with that.

by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 06:52:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The statement is entirely consistent with insistence on religious freedom, too. The school--which is compulsory--has no right to determine that children must violate rules of their religion.

The school has no opinion on the religion of its students. It does not recognise, acklowledge or make concessions to anyone's religion, and is therefore incapable of determining that children must violate rules of their religion. That is religious neutrality.

The statement is certainly consistent with religious freedom, but goes far beyond it into religious privilege, by its insistence on the idea that in any conflict between the rules of the school and the rules of religion, religion must prevail.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 07:03:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you assume the veil had a nexus with "rejecting the authority of the state", but of course you have no evidence that in reality this plays a role in a relevant degree.

Eurogreen lives in France and has expressed his support (and even a relative climbdown) for the French pursuit of the secular state.

So arguing from the French point of view, the headscarf will automatically have a nexus with rejecting French authority in their public schools - as long as the community that wishes to wear the headscarf openly connects it to an expression of religion.

I feel that the argumentation on this thread, which is getting to the point of going in circles, suffers from making proper distinctions about considered frameworks. Katrin can rail against ban on headscarves, but for France this ultimately entails a rejection of the French Jacobin groundwork and the secular state. She could question or reject that as well, on grounds of her interpretation of human rights, but tough, that's not for her to change as long as people interpret differently - and people in France (and ET) clearly do. Shouting 'you're wrong about it!' won't help. You get Gallic shrugs in return, and the French are exceptionally skilled at that.

by Bjinse on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 07:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ECtHR is going to decide on that. Will the French shrug that off too?
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 07:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not likely.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 07:20:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of course, on the verdict of the court. :)

Although I don't know about more ECHR court cases specifically on headscarves in French schools. Which one do you mean? There was this of course, which was a clear victory for France. And this one is still running, but that is related to the burqa ban, not headscarves at public schools.

by Bjinse on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 08:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, I am mixing that up with the case of the face veils. Don't know which ban is more abusive anyway.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 08:32:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the burqa law will be repealed if it is condemned by the European court. It was a political gimmick in the first place.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 08:38:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for France this ultimately entails a rejection of the French Jacobin groundwork and the secular state.

Of course. Ultimately Katrin wants a rejection of the secular state. Hence the exotic hair-on-fire insinuations about 'atheist privilege', and the framing of any disagreement as a personal attack.

This is what theists do. They don't want any higher authority than the one they claim for themselves. Secular authority is 'totalitarian' and 'oppressive' by definition.

This is SOP, and shouldn't surprise anyone with experience of theocratic politics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 09:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a thread already close to providing more heat than light, I find it unhelpful to speculate on the motives of other participants.

What we can say for certain is that Katrin argues a position which is inconsistent with the maintenance of the secular state. Whether this is due to accident, sinister designs on the secular state and rule of law (yes, the two go inextricably together), or merely irrelevant collateral damage in pursuit of a different objective considered more important is neither something which can be divined from the position argued nor particularly pertinent to the discussion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 02:59:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What we can say for certain is that Katrin argues a position which is inconsistent with the maintenance of the secular state.

And that's why I said 'theocracy.' Because for all practical purposes, that's what theocracy is - a move to dismantle the secular state and its aspirations[1] to a level ground for all participants, and replace it with ethical and judicial systems that privilege religious traditions over secular ones.

Let's have the Wikipedia definition:

Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity is officially recognized as the civil Ruler and official policy is governed by officials regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group.

Arguing that policy should allow a religious group to have privileges which aren't available to other participants meets that definition, don't you think?

And considering we've been insulted as 'atheist fundamentalist sectarians' and 'Stalinists', and it's been insinuated that no one in this discussion has any real interest in progress or basic human rights - purely because we don't immediately accept an argument that pretends to be about human rights, but is clearly really just an argument for theological privilege based on a very selective view of what human rights actually mean in practical politics - I think the comments have been more restrained than they might have been.

Which definition of theocracy did you think I was using?

[1] Well - former aspirations, anyway.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arguing that policy should allow a religious group to have privileges which aren't available to other participants meets that definition, don't you think?

No, it doesn't. There is a difference between arguing that religious groups should be accorded some undeserved prerogatives and privileges, and arguing that religious doctrine should be the deciding factor in all, or even most, lawmaking and jurisprudence. In the same way that there is a difference wage labor and chattel slavery.

There are many perfectly habitable half-way houses between "not secular" and "theocratic." The US is not secular. Saudi Arabia is a theocracy.

I think the comments have been more restrained than they might have been.

Tu quoque was a weak argument in third grade, and it's not gotten better since.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 07:25:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I must also most strenuously object to the insinuation that Katrin is a theocrat.

Words have meanings, and turning words like "theocrat" or "fascist" into common terms of abuse is Unhelpful.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, but Katrin allies herself with theocrats <ducks>

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 10:23:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:

eurogreen:

What I want is distinct from what I expect the State to do on my behalf.

Intriguing. How do you expect your wish to come true? Ah, I have got it: probably you pray for divine intervention. ;)

Let me give you an example. I want women to find me handsome and sexy. I don't expect the State to provide this for me.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:51:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. Perhaps you should advocate a ban on not finding you handsome and sexy. I have recently heard that bans are so efficient.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 06:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So I'm a fundamentalist for supporting separation of church and state?

I'll let Voltaire, Diderot and the writers of the US constitution know they were fundamentalists too. I'm sure they'll be as amused as I am.

Your attempts at framing and rhetoric are getting very obvious.

which leaves the religious groups free to be as fundamental as they please.

Providing their actions aren't criminal, and they don't try to influence the state for their own exclusive benefit. That's where their freedoms end.

I hope I don't need to add that this principle shouldn't apply exclusively to religious influence, but to any behind-the-scenes influence on policy by vested interests for their own exclusive benefit.

The 'exclusive benefit' point is the crucial one.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
So I'm a fundamentalist for supporting separation of church and state?

I didn't say so.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fog thickens the more you write.

I'm genuinely sorry about that. For me, on the contrary, the more you make your world view explicit, the better I understand our differences.

For example, your post above contains a revelation for me :  

I wasn't saying that children should be free to wear what they like in school. I was (and am) saying that it is none of the school's business. It was my parents who banned the jeans

Funny how we internalize the restrictions on freedom we most suffered from (Stockholm syndrome, or something). I suffered (mildly) from the dress code imposed by my school; my parents would have been more liberal (probably). However I recognise the legitimacy of the school in having a dress code. You suffered from restrictions imposed by your parents; you (I'm guessing : please don't be offended if I get it wrong) are happy for this model to be perpetuated by other parents.

More importantly, though, we have identified a philosophical difference with respect to the role of schools.

For me, school is free of charge, compulsory, and has a standard program determined by the state. What's more, there is a compulsory delegation of parental authority to the school; parents don't get to determine the content or the methods of teaching, or the standards of behaviour to which students will be held, or what may or may not be worn.

I'm interested in your view : is it only the last point, the dress code, that we disagree on? Or is the compulsory delegation of parental authority a problem for you?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:18:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the last point, the dress code. I have no issue with compulsory school, compulsory science and sex education and the like. I do have an issue with compulsory prayer or dress codes or militarist indoctrination and the like. Special dress codes for pupils are unnecessary.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:46:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you grown up with school uniforms? Horrible totalitarianism.

Although I haven't, I have felt similarly - until I moved to South Africa and experienced at first hand how school uniforms are a godsend for children and families with poor backgrounds.

Perspective matters.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:28:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really like school uniforms. Grew up with them too. Makes life a lot simpler, filters out some inequality from school.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of Jeff Goldblum's wardrobe full of identical sets of clothes in The Fly.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't the inequality visible enough in other things?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If so, why make it even more obvious by supporting competitive consumption?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:56:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How am I supporting competitive consumption?

My question was a genuine question, not a challenge, by the way. I have no experience with school uniforms. Pupils don't meet each other only when in the classroom. Don't they get a pretty clear idea of the relative wealth or poverty of the children around them?

by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:59:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not so true in an urban school with a big or mixed catchment area.

Strong views on something you have no experience with...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"No experience" with school uniforms, but of course I know what uniforms are. That's why I am shuddering.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:10:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And religious garb is not a uniform?

This is not a rhetorical question: The Jacobin opposition to religious garb in schools is, I think, very much a dislike of seeing private groups maintain a uniformed presence in institutions that the state considers its turf.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 03:09:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By "religious garb" do you mean uniform clothing that an organisation prescribes for its members like monks' habits, or do you mean covering the body to the extent a religion demands? The two are different, and only the former would be a uniform.
by Katrin on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:05:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The former, of course.

But for the purpose of the present discussion, this is a distinction without difference - the religious prescription in question goes quite a bit beyond "keep hair covered" and well into the territory of specifying the nature and appearance of the garment used to cover it.

(It should go without saying that the Jacobin view on private uniforms in public institutions is hypocritical as long as business suits are tolerated attire in parliament. There can be no real doubt that the business suit is a uniform of a private group actively hostile to the state.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 04:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because what inevitably happens is 'I got £200 trainers for Christmas and you didn't' competitions.

Incidentally, I find it completely bizarre that you're against school uniforms, but for religious uniforms.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:31:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is bizarre in that?
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:42:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And when you are in uniform in school you can't say: 'I got £200 trainers for Christmas and you didn't'? Hm. How odd.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course you can, and uniform (that I lived with for years without liking it) does not ensure absolute... uniformity.

It does however provide a general sense that the individual schoolchild is one of a group of similar people of equal value.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which - you eventually realise as an adult - is one of the better outcomes.

Depending on the school, it can mean equally valued or equally devalued. Still - at least there's some notion of equality there.

The opposite is true for religious wear, which has the clear implication that the wearer is somehow either superior or inferior to those who chose to wear ordinary clothes, depending who you ask.

Just like any other uniform, including the ubiquitous business suit.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 6th, 2014 at 05:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's exactly what I saw when school uniforms (by that time nothing more than blue coats donned atop normal street clothes) were abolished in Hungary while I was still going to school. Which made me re-think the issue: when the uniforms were first abolished, I was happy, not because of any perceived authoritarianism but because wearing them seemed a hassle. Note that pioneer uniforms (which were to be worn during public celebrations) were another matter entirely.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:57:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to the same extent, and it means the arms race is, at least, not happening in school.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 02:15:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This extraordinary claim CLEARLY needs to be backed up by evidence. Your solution, the ban on headscarves, solves a problem that exists in your fantasy.

Too bad. This is no fantasy, nor is evidence needed when discussing this in relation to French state schools. The headscarf is more than a debate about a piece of cloth, but a symbolic pebble in the ideological pond of the French secular state. As Jerome was (is?) wont to say: there are no Muslims in France.

As someone outside of France, it took me a number of years to grasp that point.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bjinse:
As Jerome was (is?) wont to say: there are no Muslims in France.

Really? Citation?

(No, I really don't want to get into this "debate", but that takes the cake. Or maybe it's snark?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are no Muslims in France.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:38:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I forgot that one. But here are two quotes from Jerome in that thread that explain his meaning:

Jerome a Paris:

The fact is that more Americans (as a percentage of the relevant population) say they are Christians first and Americans second than French people say they are Muslim first, and French second.

So when "Christians" is the widely accepted word to describe white Americans, I'll stop complaining about the word "Muslim" being used to describe France's Arab and African communities.

Jerome a Paris:

the relevant question is "are Arabs integrating in France," not "are Muslims integrating in France.

Racism and other integration obstacles are linked to their being Arab, not to their being Muslim. The label "Muslim" is one that's only been used since 9/11 and is part of the vocabulary of the War on Terra.

Thus, we should not help promote that narrative.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:39:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
the relevant question is "are Arabs integrating in France," not "are Muslims integrating in France.
That sounds dangerously close to denying the Arabs/Muslims the right to self-identify. Which is par for the course since French Jacobinism as a matter of state policy denies the existence of French "identities" below the Nation.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:42:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
Of course there are Muslims in France

it's just not their predominant characteristic, not their defining one, and it is incorrect to label them as such.

There are tennis players in France, but it's not a label that's often used to define groups and assign violent political meaning to.

I've always seen this as the key quote of Jerome where things began to click together (for me, anyway) how France 'works'. Provocative as it was (is!), I found it a rather effective meme, it sure sticks to the mind. BTW, Jerome and I have discussed amiably over this phrase during one of the ET-meetups.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone outside of France, it took me a number of years to grasp that point.

As an immigrant, I probably embraced the French secular notion rather too zealously. I have largely got over that excess. Meanwhile I have advanced my understanding of Moslem culture and mindset (through personal contact, and also reading Moslem authors, watching TV, listening to music, learning Arabic...)

It gives me better insight about why the French system fails Moslems so miserably. But few clues as to how the situation can be improved. The litany about how colonialist, racist, islamophobic etc attitudes keeps them down is true, but it is not the whole story.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does the French school deal with dietary restrictions for medical, ethical and religious reasons?

Swedish schools are pretty accomodating on all these grounds (though I would say that is pretty recent). I even saw an article with a parent who had brought up her kids on all organic food suing the municipality. I even think she won, which means organic food for her kids. I think that started about twenty years ago with offering vegetarian food which also meant giving a no-beef and no-pork alternative.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 11:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inevitably, it's a political football.  There is no legal obligation to provide canteen meals at all at schools, nor any obligation that they should conform to any specific alimentary regime, religious or not. But there is nothing preventing schools from offering a halal option, and many do. But given that pork is by far the cheapest meat, and that school canteens have limited budgets, it's not an easy one for canteens to resolve.

From Le Monde :

Tous les observateurs reconnaîssent qu'il existe une hausse des demandes de menus spécifiques dans les établissements scolaires depuis une dizaine d'années. Globalement, la demande est passée, en un peu plus de trente ans, du "sans porc" au "sans viande", puis plus récemment au "halal". Ces nouvelles revendications émanent des parents de confession musulmane. "Les modérés demandent que leurs enfants ne mangent pas de viande ; les ultras, qu'ils mangent halal", disent les acteurs de terrain.

La problématique se pose moins pour la communauté juive et les repas casher, notamment parce que 30 % des enfants juifs - issus des familles les plus pratiquantes - sont scolarisés dans les établissements confessionnels.

All observers agree that there is an increase in requests for specific menus in schools over the last ten years. Overall, requests have shifted over the last thirty years, from "without pork" to "meatless" and more recently to "halal". These new claims come from Muslim parents. "The moderates ask that their children do not eat meat, the ultras, that they should eat halal," according to sources.

The problem is less acute for the Jewish community and kosher meals, especially because 30% of Jewish children - from the most devout families - are enrolled in religious schools.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 12:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More or less the same here. No pork in Hamburg's schools though, and it is possible to get meals for some medical conditions, but that's it. If parents don't like that, they must give their children lunch boxes.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 01:39:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin's second quote in the diary is from an article on the school veil ban controversy that also includes this:

France and the veil - the dark side of the law

Jean Baubérot, a historian and an expert in the sociology of religion, is the only member of the Commission Stasi who abstained from the vote recommending a ban. He remembers the isolated case that sparked the scarf controversy in 1989, when three girls were suspended for refusing to remove their scarves in class in Creil. "Then," he says, "the Conseil d'Etat issued a judgment ruling that proselytism didn't lie in someone's clothing but in someone's behaviour. I didn't agree with the shift It essentialises religion and prevents thinking. Based on the way a person dresses we peremptorily imagine the way she lives. To me, this seemed naïve and even obscurantist."

For Tevanian, the 2004 law marks a reactionary departure from the concept of laïcité, a conservative revolution. "People kept saying that we had to go back to laïcité, go back to the French politician Jules Ferry, which was a fallacious rhetoric," he says,"the fact that a new law had to be created showed that we weren't going back to anything, but revising something." According to him, laïcité, as it was applied in France since the separation of Church and State in 1905, "guarantees the neutrality of the agents of the State, but not of the users of a public service. Like in a football match - it's the pitch that needs to be neutral, not the players, who need to be free to elaborate their game." For Tevanian, shifting the obligation of neutrality to the users breaches the first article of the 1905 law, which guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of worship. It also denies the right to education for all. "Proselytism," he adds, "that is to say, trying to convince the other, is, as long as you don't try to intimidate the person in front of you, fundamental in a democracy."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 7th, 2014 at 06:04:42 AM EST
British Humanist Association: Satirical spaghetti monster image banned by London South Bank University as `religiously offensive' (February 10th, 2014)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 10th, 2014 at 02:48:46 PM EST
The best bit :
Initially SBAS were told that it was the visibility of Adam's genitals that was offensive

Indeed. They are so small it's hard to tell if he's circumcised or not. (But that's Michelangelo's fault.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 03:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He didn't make that mistake with David - that may have been one of the reasons the City of Jerusalem refused an offer of a replica for their "4000th anniversary".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 11th, 2014 at 03:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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