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One question I thing the debate touches on, is one of tribal identities and choice. Is the identities as for example chess player, communist, lutheran, skin color, gender and sexuality perceived equal when it comes to choice? Obviously, when I put it this way the answer is no but I think a closer look is in order.

Hobbies - if you take up or quit chess, fotball or stamp collecting it is seen as a perfectly normal thing, priorities change.

Politics - you can change a number of times during your life, but not to often or it will be weird. Party can be changed more often then ideology.

Religion - you are generally born into a religion and unless you join another one you are implicitly still in that one (see Church of England Atheist). Joining another religion is supposed to either come from following your subgroup in a schism ("we are staying true, it is the others who are leaving") or from a deep spiritual experience. Joining another religion because they have great looking hats is absurd enough to be featured on Seinfeld.

Gender and sexuality - you are not really supposed to chage, and if you do it is only once and must be explained in terms of being true to who you really are.

Skin color - you are not supposed to change. (See Michael Jackson)

I think that the less choice you are perceived (by society at large) to have over a building bloc of your identity, the less of a fair target it is. I think this is part of what Katrin and vbo is trying to get across. (When it comes to law, I don't think choseness should be grounds for a distinction, I would rather see one based on power and the level of threath posed. But legislation is often not what I think it should be.)

More importantly perhaps religions status as mostly unchosen places limits on effective activism around religion, but that is nothing new, effective activism is almost always an uphill struggle. I have no opinion really on how effective Pussy Riots stunts are, perhaps it will turn out that the state prosecuting them is more effective for the transmission of their views then their actions are. Would not be a first.

When it comes to how fair it is that certain views are considered religious and unchosen when other views on the same topic is non-religious and chosen, it may not be fair. However I think it reflects a clever strategy in creating agnosticism and atheism as not-religions, thus not demanding conversion or abandonment of the previous group.

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by A swedish kind of death on Sun Sep 2nd, 2012 at 12:41:55 PM EST

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