When religion goes adults-only
Over the last year a very interesting proposed law has been causing quite a stir in Tajikistan, although it is only more recently, as the law is passing the final stages (it was signed off by the President on the 4th of August) that the Western media have been reporting on it. There is a New York Times article about the law here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/world/asia/17tajikistan.html
By far the most provocative measure in the bill on 'Parental Responsibility For Child Upbringing & Education' is a prohibition on allowing children to participate in religious activities. As I understand it, the mosque will become an Adults-Only arena, with only funeral services being deemed suitable for the whole family.
In a recent comment piece in The Guardian, Andrew Brown denounces the new law as precisely the kind of violation of liberty one should expect from a regime so steeped in authoritarianism and human rights violations. But is it not possible that because the Tajikistan bathwater is so filthy, people might well be discarding the baby with it? Given that we do not allow children the right to vote, or have sex, or marry or do any of the other things that children might otherwise 'choose' to do, in what sense can it be a violation of their rights to simply add to that list another activity which, if they really want to be involved in, they will just have to wait until they are adults. Andrew Brown argues that such a measure is actually worse than the Islamic nonsense it seeks to contain. Really?! Restricting the ability of organisations to fill children's heads with intellectual cancers is somehow worse? Even if you believe such a law to be an unnecessary intrusion, how can it really be an even greater evil compared to the act of poisoning en masse the inquisitive minds of children with toxic untruths.
As an aside, this Guardian article is laughable for what now seems to be the standard requirement in their pieces on all matters supernatual-related to not only name-check Richard Dawkins, but then also make snide bogus misrepresentations of his views.