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← The problem in public life isn’t Islam, but religion itself

The problem in public life isn’t Islam, but religion itself - Comments

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 1 by Premiseless

If anything we see the incompatibility of the religious mind with a person who is unable to conceptualise myth as fact to an extent they will pretend it deserves legal sanctions and powers to enforce its will ad hoc on random outsiders to its delusional proposals, nay assertions!

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 20:55:59 UTC | #920514

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 2 by Chris Roberts

Ontario got it right, let's see how long it takes for the religiously-led democracy that is the UK to see this and follow suit. I'm not holding my breath though....

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:07:31 UTC | #920519

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 3 by Zeuglodon

Comment 1 by Premiseless

If anything we see the incompatibility of the religious mind with a person who is unable to conceptualise myth as fact to an extent they will pretend it deserves legal sanctions and powers to enforce its will ad hoc on random outsiders to its delusional proposals, nay assertions!

Eloquently put. Not one of the defenders of this nonsensical policy has spoken a convincing word in its favour. Indeed, the eagerness of two representatives from two incompatible religions to collude with each other exposes their hypocrisy and suggests that their case is sorely lacking.

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:14:05 UTC | #920520

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

“To create a more just society, Britons must feel stronger in their religious identities.”

Utter bollocks. Religion is at the root of many of the injustices of society. Hundreds of years of people blindly accepting their opiate is what has solidified into the unjust world of today. We need less opiate....not more.

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:39:21 UTC | #920540

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 5 by TeraBrat

Why can't the problem be both?

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:42:44 UTC | #920544

EbeneezerGude's Avatar Comment 6 by EbeneezerGude

Religiously-led democracy that is the uk? Doesn't sound like the uk I live in....

Comment 2 by Chris Roberts :

Ontario got it right, let's see how long it takes for the religiously-led democracy that is the UK to see this and follow suit. I'm not holding my breath though....

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 22:24:15 UTC | #920560

Graxan's Avatar Comment 7 by Graxan

"She’s a popular figure among Tories and an entertaining personality who frequently appears on British TV"

That entirely depends on your definition of 'Entertaining'.

My take take on her is that she is a religious nutjob with an agenda.

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 23:24:23 UTC | #920579

78rpm's Avatar Comment 8 by 78rpm

Could somebody explain to me, an honestly ignorant American, what gives her the title "Baroness?" I really know very little about the system of titles like that. Thank you.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:10:35 UTC | #920587

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 9 by aroundtown

I took the time to read the article but the headline contained the most important point. Religion is a problem.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:13:18 UTC | #920590

squeegee's Avatar Comment 10 by squeegee

“To create a more just society, Britons must feel stronger in their religious identities.”

I'm sorry but that social experiment has already been tried and has failed dismally.

Strong religious identities only create differences that result in turmoil

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:13:33 UTC | #920591

Magorian's Avatar Comment 11 by Magorian

I never understand how people like Warsi don't understand that the principles they're attacking are the very same principles that protect their religious freedom.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:27:58 UTC | #920596

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 12 by Border Collie

Every time I see the word "devout", I want to vomit. He just thinks Islam isn't the problem. He ain't seen nothin' yet. Warsi is only using this "Christian" thing as an Islamic wedge. As a "devout" Muslim, by definition, she doesn't give a damn about Christianity and is sworn to destroy it. Just another stupid dhimmi article.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 01:01:46 UTC | #920603

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 13 by aquilacane

I'm not passed the first para and already it's not looking good for Team Delusional. Judges and thinkers versus two cosplays and trumpeter swans. Shit kicking? I'll read on.

EDIT: That didn't take long. No shit kicking. Nothing really. Kind of a preamble.

We’re entering an age when Muslims are no longer seen as alien outsiders but as ordinary participants in public life. If earlier public hysteria over their beliefs had a benefit, though, it was in making us all realize the value of a neutral, secular public life.

I actually have never thought much of the concept of outsider until recently. My home town is really easy; I've lived around Canada. Muslims were just other people, like every other person. Now that we talk about it. I see them as outsiders.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 05:09:59 UTC | #920633

Crimbly's Avatar Comment 14 by Crimbly

Comment 7 by Graxan :

"She’s a popular figure among Tories and an entertaining personality who frequently appears on British TV"

That entirely depends on your definition of 'Entertaining'.

My take take on her is that she is a religious nutjob with an agenda.

I did a wee double-take reading that sentence too. You can't deny that she is being inadvertently entertaining in all this though. :D

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 07:52:23 UTC | #920656

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 15 by justinesaracen

As an American, and a materialist, I am still trying to get my head around the paradox of this baroness Warsi and her alliance with the Pope. There is a veritable stew of myths here.

Totally aside from the religious myths in play, her baroness-ness (barony?) is also a myth, isn't it? I mean the whole concept of royalty / family nobility is a myth that is derived from the myth of divinity.

But she is a Muslim, and came from another culture with its own myths, so it's like someone coming from another fictional world and wanting to join yours.

It's Anna Karenina wanting to join Lady Macbeth, Tosca wanting to sing in The Sound of Music, Princess Lea wanting to play Cat Woman. For it to work, we all have to agree to the myth.

Which I'm happy to do for literature, music, and cartoon fantasy, but not for government.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 08:17:01 UTC | #920659

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 16 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

Comment 8 by 78rpm Could somebody explain to me, an honestly ignorant American, what gives her the title "Baroness?" I really know very little about the system of titles like that. Thank you.

I'm British and I'd like to know too! (Nobody explains this to us, we are just told that we have our "betters".)

All I know is that once or twice a year the government (probably officially the Queen, but she's just a puppet) appoints a few new "life peers" (I believe they are all titled "Baron/Baroness"). They have the right to sit in the House of Lords. Their title is not hereditary. They are supposedly given to people who have made some sort of major contribution to public life. I think there is some sort of cross-party consultation on the appointments and at least a pretence of balance and fairness. Ultimately it is a subjective decision and can be controversial.

My view is that Warsi was fast-tracked because the Conservatives obviously thought it would enhance their appeal to multi-cultural/ethnic voters. I don't know what major contribution she has made to really justify her appointment.

If you look up "British Honours System" on Wikipedia, it explains the whole honours system.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 08:21:04 UTC | #920661

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 17 by susanlatimer

Comment 15 by esuther

Which I'm happy to do for literature, music, and cartoon fantasy, but not for government.

Well put. Doing it for government is like sleepwalking on the interstate. (Or TransCanada in my world.)

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 08:23:10 UTC | #920663

Celtic Atheist's Avatar Comment 18 by Celtic Atheist

Can't help thinking that maybe the Tories are quite happy to kick off a public debate about religion now as it distracts attention from the fact that the bankers have recently (again) awarded themselves eye-watering bonuses out of tax payers' money, while everyone else struggles with the cuts.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:58:27 UTC | #920698

Hellboy2's Avatar Comment 19 by Hellboy2

Comment 10 Squeegee

Strong religious identities only create differences that result in turmoil

Correct. What does Warsi expect? As a muslim she must already realise that the divide between the muslim faith and christianity is already at a point where violence can, and indeed has, erupted on the streets of Britain. Surely, calling for a strengthening of those divides is just asking for trouble.

As usual, the faith heads just don't want to consider anything that rocks the boat of their particular beliefs.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:10:14 UTC | #920701

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 20 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

Comment 18 by Celtic Atheist

Can't help thinking that maybe the Tories are quite happy to kick off a public debate about religion now as it distracts attention from the fact that the bankers have recently (again) awarded themselves eye-watering bonuses out of tax payers' money, while everyone else struggles with the cuts.

That may be true, although I've no idea why the Tories get the blame for bankers awarding themselves large bonuses. The culture of huge bonuses really kicked in during the previous Labour government, and the Labour government had the perfect opportunity when they bailed-out the banks to make it a part of the deal that large bonuses were no longer permitted, or at least not until the banks were entirely straightened out. It's classic Labour hypocracy to try to pass on the blame now to the Tories.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:29:46 UTC | #920709

DanDare's Avatar Comment 21 by DanDare

I get a bit disturbed by this use of the term "public sphere". It seems to extend to people chatting about their beliefs in the pub. State Secularism is about governments not having purely religious laws, and not taking sides on religious subjects. By phrasing it as a dichotomy about speaking out about religion and about keeping it private it is making secularism out to be oppressive.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:43:36 UTC | #920714

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 22 by SaganTheCat

I think the governemt can solve this problem by recomending the correct religion. maybe a public service TV announcement or something, stating which religion we should practice and testamonials from dead people (bring in Colin Fry or Sidekick Sally to help with this) to confirm which eternity is best suited for the modern brit and use political analysts to show the varying effect on our economy depending on which story we might frighten children with.

As our governemt has frequently stated, religion is important (even the atheist sock puppet), loved having the pope over and have a conservative party chairman who's such a great ambassador for belief she managed to gain her public position by apparent divine intervention proving democracy can always be trumped by god and I for one would have far more respect for our PM if he put on a smock and stated his policies come to him in dreams.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:43:55 UTC | #920715

elmo14's Avatar Comment 23 by elmo14

Why do the religous not understand that the absence of religion from the public sphere is not equivelent to the promotion of atheism. Someone needs to put forth a resolution that says, fine we can have prayer, but there must be one prayer for each belief system in Britian/US or where ever. And after 2 hours of white noise there is an atheist prayer that is something along the lines of "though there is no god to hear this so bowing my head is stupid as I'm just really addressing the people in this room, I am still going to endorse the scientific method and skepticism as the only real way our species has of acquiring knowledge. Though there may be wisdom in traditional religion it is overshadowed by barbarism and the metaphysical claims are all bullshit anyways... in the name of joe pesci, the end". Maybe then they will understand that secularism the the only truely neutral position. Probably not though...

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:54:37 UTC | #920722

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 24 by strangebrew

Madam Baroness is playing a game called 'shirt tails'

There is no other explanation or logic applicable to her drooling.

She is a Muslim...that is actively extolling, ostensibly, Christianity in Blighty.

She is wringing handy pandies and moaning long lyrically and shrilly about secularism and the evil that represents to religion...wait what?...ahhh!...religion yes...is becomes clear now!

She is an envoy and representative of Her Maj's poor excuse for a government. A government that the prime minister insists is a government in power of a 'Christian country'

She cannot directly whine and blabber about Muslim rights to a foreign governmental representatives. Because that is incompatible to her position representing Blighty Government with a Christian populace.

But she can moan and groan and cry big blubbery tears over 'RELIGION' and its struggles with a secular world.

She is simply canvassing for the major xian cult (the RCC) to apply pressure and threats to the likes of Gove and other dimbulbs in the cabinet along with mixed and varied backbenchers with less intelligence then a rusty nail (excuses to rusty nails , at least they can give you tetanus) to introduce legislation protecting, promoting and encouraging absolute 'no go areas' for the sceptical, with regards to combating, commenting on or criticizing religious excesses and inanity.

Such beefed up legislation would apply to all religions...and by all religions I mean Islam...

She does not give a flying jigajig for xianity...because we all know that xianity has more then enough privilege in our society...but Islam wants sharia law introduced into Blighty...they are not likely to get full compliance under present arrangements but a more draconian gag on secularity would allow them to do what they want with who they want.

Friday night in Bradford might end up as a Punishment gala...'come and watch the lashes and hear the women scream and the stones of revenge...how many does it take? and who can aim best?...prizes of a gold embossed Koran for the most damage per 5 stone fling...a sharp sword is a tool of allah..etc etc etc....'

It is fucking repugnant...and yet that is what they want...because they will not be satisfied with a watered down version...that is for damn sure...it is un-Islamic.

That is the religious tolerance she is gagging for...she might just get it...the Blighty government seems riven with right wing jeebus drooling dullards, it is a bit of a shoe in really!

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:08:13 UTC | #920731

Finch's Avatar Comment 25 by Finch

From the article:

Britain might follow the lead of Ontario, where public outcry over proposed Muslim sharia tribunals led the government to realize that Christians and Jews had been allowed similar religious-based tribunals, and that the whole thing was a bad idea. By putting an end to the practice of religious law, Ontario relegated religion to the place it works best, as a philosophy of private enlightenment (if only the same could be done for schools).

Ontario got it right. Please follow suit, UK.

How is it that modern Western governments so quickly forget religious history, by allowing religious-based tribunals (saying the words, makes my skin crawl), and that humans have always furthered their religious fanaticism by using politics (and education) to accomplish it?

Also, from the article:

We’re entering an age when Muslims are no longer seen as alien outsiders but as ordinary participants in public life. If earlier public hysteria over their beliefs had a benefit, though, it was in making us all realize the value of a neutral, secular public life.

Wrong.

In Western culture, any devout Muslim who follows sharia law and takes office to lead "a campaign to enforce mandatory prayer and to lobby for religious-based values and laws" (Warsi) is a direct threat to that Western culture...and is, by definition, an "alien outsider" and, by no means, an "ordinary participant in public life."

Comment 5 by TeraBrat :

Why can't the problem be both?

Good question. It is both.

Islam, specifically: The Baroness is a devout Muslim who wants Islamic law injected into Western government. Real basic. She doesn't identify as a Christian who wants these things,...or as a Jew, or as a Rasta, or as a Buddhist, or as a Hindu. She openly identifies as a Muslim.

Religion, generally: Any religious law has no part in Western government.

Comment 12 by Border Collie :

Every time I see the word "devout", I want to vomit. He just thinks Islam isn't the problem. He ain't seen nothin' yet. Warsi is only using this "Christian" thing as an Islamic wedge. As a "devout" Muslim, by definition, she doesn't give a damn about Christianity and is sworn to destroy it. Just another stupid dhimmi article.

Absolutely.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply delusional. IMO, calling Warsi "devout" is ultimately synonymous with "radical" because, if Sharia gets a toehold in government, Radical Islam will win and eventually call the shots, when push comes to shove, because it has a history of keeping adherents in line with violence and terrorism (actual and threatened) that very few Muslims will resist when faced with losing either their life, their freedom, or those of their family members.

If that happens, if the scales tip, we dhimmi will no longer be allowed...err...tolerated.

I don't think that it's too far-fetched to predict that, if the UK allows Sharia to get a firm toehold in government, Dawkins and those participating in the RDF will become a bigger target and receive death threats. Holy shit, just look at the stir created by the religious community over the RDF-sponsored, Ipsos MORI survey. A freakin' survey. Get a life.

(Also, IMO, terrorism perpetrated by radical Islamists, in the West, is designed not necessarily to terrorize Westerners...or to damage western interests...but to terrorize Muslims living in the West to keep them in line, whether that's in the UK, Canada, or the US. That's why we only hear peeps and whispers denouncing Islamic terrorism from the Muslim community rather than huge numbers raising holy hell over the issue. They either agree...or they are fearful. Either way, they become complicit, by remaining relatively silent, via the "sin" of commission...or the "sin" of omission. I wonder what others think of this perspective?)

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:55:17 UTC | #920740

pinball's Avatar Comment 26 by pinball

comment 24 from stangebrew but Islam wants sharia law introduced into Blighty...they are not likely to get full compliance under present arrangements but a more draconian gag on secularity would allow them to do what they want with who they want.

RD needs get Warsi and a few representatives of the muslim council of GB in a televised debate. Female circumcision, islamic view on homosexual relationships, rape within marriage, forced marriage, honour killings and some of the more abhorrent Islamic laws she would prefer to part of the “public Sphere,” should be discussed.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:58:47 UTC | #920741

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 27 by drumdaddy

Religion poisons everything.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 14:05:01 UTC | #920742

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 28 by Daisy Skipper

I don't know why, but the comments here remind me of the final statement by Peter in an old Family Guy episode:

(paraphrasing) "I've learned something today... it doesn't matter where you are from or the colour of your skin... as long as we're all the same religion". Of course it's not even true when you acknowledge the differences within religions (shia, sunni).

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:35:48 UTC | #920759

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 29 by Nunbeliever

Well, the problem is dogmatic thinking. Religions seem to be the main drivers of these phenomenons these days. In fact, when I think about it I can't think of one single 'devout' (read dogmatic) believer (regardless of faith or denomination) that think would the deser the label "a decent human being". There is something inherently dubious about deeply religious people. But, I think it's important to make a distinction between people who have strong religious beliefs and people who have dogmatic religious beliefs. I think there is a huge difference and atheists most of the time talk about dogmatic believers.

Yes, the dogmatic believers often talk about love, compassion and forgiveness. But, these people are only kind, loving and compassionate as long as you agree with them. I guess, that's inevitable when you talk about dogmatism. They all seem to share one of these two characteristics (often both of them).

1) They are extremely self-righteous and arrogant and dismiss all criticism as absurd and outright stupid. Hence, they will either call you names or in other ways express exactly how much they downgrade or pity you. In practice the difference is almost indistinguisable. The irony is how they nonetheless feel the need to end a conversation or a remark by telling you how much they love you and that there's still hope for you if you would only see the light. Of course their so called love is an absolutely conditional one. There's no room for compromises. They don't really listen to what you say. They are totally self-absorbed and become like narcissists who go around thinking they are the most loving, wonderful and enlightened people on earth while treating everyone around them as shit.

2) They are highly aggressive. They perceive criticism not only as absurd but as a personal insult. They do not only pity or downgrade people who are different. They utterly despise them. Ironically, at the same time they love people who convert or change their minds. This seem to reflect some kind of deep feeling of insecurity. While they despise people who are different they seem to strive from fighting against some (most of the time imagined) treat or danger. They bully and treat others bad, but perceive themselves as the victims. These are the people who say they hope atheists or liberals rot in hell. These are the people who shout at their guests at Fox News. But these are also the people who might do actual violence and terrorism.

As said before. I can't think of one single dogmatic believer who doesn't express at least one of these two characteristics and hence I can't possibly label them good people. On the other hand I've met many people with strong religious beliefs who are very good people. But, they all differ in one important aspect from dogmatic believers, however sincere they might perceive themselves. They actually listen to others and can respect other people's views.

I interprete this as evidence that these people have not entirely made up their minds. They might feel a strong connection to their beliefs and their religious insitutions. But, they usually don't talk about their beliefs as the truth or claim to have access to exclusive knowledge and authority with regard to the universe or the human condition. They are humble in other words, even if they might have strong religious beliefs. And I think a person who is humble can't be dogmatic! That seems like an oxymoron to me.

I think this is a very important distinction to make if we want to make the world a better place to live in. It seems like an impossible task to eradicate religion in general. And I'm not sure we even have to do that. We often talk about irrational behaviour and how that is the big problem with religious beliefs. I'm not all that sure irrationality in itself is the main problem. We are all irrational to some extent. People have always been irrational. It's probably to some degree inevitable. Yes, irrational behaviour leads to a lot of suffering. But, I think the main problem is dogmatism. Irrational people can be educated. We know that it's very easy to change the mind of a child. The problem is that as we grow older we start adopting a lot of dogmatic views on life. We all have them and they tend to get more articulate the older we get. There's a reason why we say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I guess there's a strong biological aspect to this. A young brain is better at obtaining new knowledge than an old one. And that is what dogmatism is all about. The inability to change ones mind even when faced with contradicting evidence.

Hence, a person with strong religious beliefs might not necessarily be a problem. They might not be dogmatic and hence they don't express the same amount of irrational and destructive behaviour as a dogmatic believer. Their beliefs also tend to be more abstract and not as bizarre or absurd as the beliefs dogmatic believers might hold.

So the important question is how to get rid of dogmatism. Of course it has a lot to do with tribalism and group thinking. But, I don't think that's an entirely accurate description of what's going on. What I find fascinating is that dogmatic believers in many ways actually become like people who suffer from anti-social personality disorders. It is really interesting since it raises the question whether there might be a link between these two. For example, my view is that personal sacrifice (which is a very strong component of tribalism) is not really a very common trait among dogmatic believers today. At least not in the western world. As said, dogmatic believers often become very narcisstic and self-absorded. Their beliefs seems to create these superficial superegos. It's all about them. They are important and they are superior.

They often express an astonishing lack of empathy for others. They of course treat their fellow believers well, but it's a very conditional form of compassion and love. There are for example many cases where parents have forsaken their children (or vice versa) because they are not true believers or because they are sinners. These people basically put their beliefs above their children. In a sense that seems to suggest these people put their own superegos and feelings of importance and superiority above their children. To me that seems to resemble a psychopath's mentality quite a lot.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:41:46 UTC | #920762

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 30 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

Comment 21 by DanDare

I get a bit disturbed by this use of the term "public sphere". It seems to extend to people chatting about their beliefs in the pub. State Secularism is about governments not having purely religious laws, and not taking sides on religious subjects. By phrasing it as a dichotomy about speaking out about religion and about keeping it private it is making secularism out to be oppressive.

I agree, it is really important that people are clear what they mean by keeping religion out of "public life" or "the public sphere", or that religion is a "private matter". I think this has understandably caused a lot of confusion and anxiety.

I hope that no secularist means that people shouldn't be entirely free to express their religious views in public, it is just that it is inappropriate to impose these views or practices on anyone, (e.g. through publically run institutions, or in any environment where people are not entirely free to ignore them without incurring any disadvantage).

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:21:44 UTC | #920779