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← Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

nick keighley's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by nick keighley

Comment 6 by Jos Gibbons :

Not every quotation of Malik herein is due to my disagreeing with him, but I often disagree with his analysis, as well as often feeling he doesn’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about. He often makes very confused comments. He also often overlooks the diversity of conceptions of secularism.

he seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

Is it legitimate to ban the burqa? Should an employee be allowed to wear a cross at work? The problem with both of these questions is the phrasing misses the fact that the “bans” were always in specific contexts for purely practical reasons.

no.This isn't true. The banning of crosses seemed purely arbitary. Employers exercise a great deal of control over their employees as it is. This arbitary extension of power is unwarrented.

The French and Swiss burka bans were without justification and an extreme example of religious and cultural predjudice. In Amnesty's opinion many of these laws are in violation of the European Convention on human rights. The Netherlands is another (surprising) violator. The UK (so far) is pretty good.

You can’t wear the burqa if we need to see your face, e.g. on a passport photograph; you can’t wear a cross if that means violating health & safety regulations concerning necklaces. We can argue about whether the underlying concerns are valid, but that’s not how the “debate” is ever framed.

because that is hardly ever what is going on

[...] (France’s burqa ban is a bit thornier because, in addition to their “we need to know who everyone is all the time” ID attitude, which is part of why they consider it worth banning burqas in public, they also hate Islamic oppression of women.

fighting oppression with oppression...

But even if that’s not a good enough reason for a public ban, don’t pretend the other reason is religiously discriminating. In other words, there is a secular argument for what France did. We can critique that argument, but we can’t claim it isn’t religiously neutral, although there is a not so neutral argument too.)

I don't believe the French (or Swiss or Dutch) had good secular reasons for what they did. It is naked religious persecution. The so-called secular reasons are window dressing to try and disguise their actual intent (preventing moslem women from receiving an education).

guide to the logic of tolerance I’d prefer a guide to morality. What if sometimes doing the right thing is intolerant? Should we tolerate intolerance, or the intolerant?

what I call the liberal paradox. I'm intolerant of intolerance. Hence the present rant!

“Always be tolerant” isn’t trivially a valid answer here.

Whatever one’s beliefs, secular or religious, there should be freedom to assemble to promote them.

Why doesn’t this have the same “except when advocating violence or harm” exception?

yes, I thought that!

Many atheists want to deny religion the rights accorded to other forms of belief. I’d like to see some proof of that.

read this forum!

Show me an atheist who thinks people should face penalties for publicly saying they think Jesus was resurrected, but not for publicly saying a monster lives in Loch Ness, and I’ll take this accusation seriously. Like all other claims, the claim that both sides are partly wrong needs to be evidence; as with many other claims, this claim’s adherents often forget such evidential responsibilities.

Some atheists argue that secularism requires that religion be kept out of the public sphere.

I'd prefer my politicians to keep the religious clap-trap down to a dull roar. I don't want my public institutions to be run on religious grounds. But I don't see why someone shouldn't cry their beliefs openly on the street if they wish to.

[...] what is said [about religion and the "public sphere"] is that a religious argument for a political policy makes no sense, and should not be treated as if it does, whereas policies should only be passed if an argument which does make sense is offered for them.

and who decides what "makes sense"? You and your super-rational atheist play mates? Democracy doesn't work that way.

And this is the sort of concern which makes it invalid to place religion, racism, conservatism, communism and gay activists all on the same pedestal. Gay activists call for equality, and the burden of proof is on those who dispute that. Again, if it can be shown some atheists think religious beliefs should be illegal to bring up in political discussions, I’ll admit it.

It must also be one, however, in which no religion is disadvantaged with respect to another religion, or with respect to secular philosophies and ideologies.

yes. That to me is secularism in a nutshell. If I buy a house, get arrested, sue in court, vote, work etc. etc. than I should be treated no differently than a moslem, jew, hindu or zoroastrian.

What I call "strong secularism" is the denial of people's rights (or rites!) because you don't happen to like some of their beliefs. Several hundred years of european wars should have knocked this out of us.

Interestingly, not all secularists agree on this. I once attended in Oxford a talk by Julian Baggini in which he defined secular politics as requiring that cases for policies be based on publicly appreciable facts rather than in-group doctrines; as he put it, public policies must have public reasons. Baggini went on to argue some religions could, in such a state, be treated differently from others, e.g. because some religions represent a public menace. Now Baggini may be wrong about this, but I wish Malik had at least noted that the implications of secularism aren’t as trivially a matter of consensus as he seems to think herein.

Many atheists demand also that religious symbols be banned in the public sphere. Many states and corporations have imposed such bans, from the refusal to allow the wearing of the cross in the workplace to the outlawing of the burqa in public places. Literally every cited example at the corporate level I’ve ever known turns out, under factual analysis, to be a case of there being some underlying concern with regards to which no discriminatory double standard is being practised.

Britsh Airways?

Sun, 24 Jun 2012 14:46:09 UTC | #948009