Sunday, June 20, 2010

Freedom of Religion and Civil Rights

I was recently having a discussion with a Christian on the issue of Canada's Anti-Spanking law which was inspired by a Christian Biblical Literalist family who believed that whipping and caning their six children daily was required by their religion.

My position is essentially that the Anti-Spanking law recognizes the Rights of the Child which was established by:

Article 25. "2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection."

2. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959 and to which most Western countries are signatories.

Principle 9. "The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation."

Article 14. Item 3. "3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."

Article 19. Item 1. "States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child."

The Christian's position is nicely summarized in the following paragraph which is a direct quote.

"Need I remind you? - I'm not the one advocating that my personal morality should be forced upon others. Your friends are. But of course, it's okay now - because it's *your* views being forced - as opposed to the fundamentalists on the either side of the spectrum."

My response to the above statement:

"I've been giving this some thought and while I still don't think continuing the discussion would be productive, here are my thoughts anyway.

While (name removed)  isn't right, he isn't completely wrong either.

The concept of the "Rights of Man" (Thomas Paine) is a view which is being imposed by Secular society.

However, it's being imposed through International and Civil Law.

Unlike, religious dogma, the Secular State doesn't impose through violence or authoritarianism. It does so through the Rule of Law while recognizing the rights of all in the context of what is being imposed, including religious rights.

So, this is one critical difference which (name removed)  doesn't appear to recognize.

Another critical difference is in the content of the views and the value judgment that we place on those views as a culture.

The view that we are imposing through Law is one that recognizes the rights of all and establishes the position that each and every human being has Natural Rights (Thomas Paine) that those rights are inviolable by any belief, social system, culture, etc.

This view is diametrically opposed to any dogmatic belief system like religion, communism, fascism, etc.  because it raises the Rights of the Individual above the Rights of the Belief, Organization, State, et al.

So, while Freedom of Religion is recognized under this concept, that freedom cannot and will not be allowed to trump the Natural Rights held by individual human beings including children.

This is the second critical difference that (name removed)  doesn't appear to recognize.

That is, this concept enshrines the rights of all individuals whereas if religion were to impose its values on the non-religious, it's concepts only recognize it's religious rights and not the rights of all individuals, particularly where the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religions are concerned.

This is the core of the fight going on right now between the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic extremists and the Secular Western State.

It's most obvious right now with the Islamists and their demand to restrict Freedom of Speech on the grounds that everyone should be required to follow their belief system by not "offending" them.

Yes. This is the real crux of their argument.

It's offensive to them, that non-Muslims don't follow their beliefs and therefore we should be required to  follow their beliefs by not depicting Muhammed in an image.

The Christians have recently hopped on to this bandwagon, with their campaign to prevent the release of the  new series on Comedy Central, called J.C, which will be poking some light-hearted fun at the Messiah and Dear Ole Dad.

Of course, the grounds are the same as the one's the Islamists give and the demand for accommodation is the same despite the rather hypocritical Christian objections when the Islamists do it.

No-one, according to these self-righteous souls, should be able to watch the show because it offends Christians.

The entire point of Freedom of Speech is to protect offensive speech. That is, the right of all of us to give expression to controversial positions on any topic.

This argument that the free speech of all should be curtailed on the grounds that it's offensive to the religious is absurd at best and insidious at worst.

It's nothing more than an underhanded attempt to impose religious values on the non-religious, or those of other religions, through the back door.

If the Islamist extremists aren't allowed to see personifications of Muhammed they don't have to read those newspapers that depict such personifications and if Christians are offended by a show like J.C, they don't have to watch it.

To demand that others can't is imposing their religious values on all of us.

The reasons why religious dogma would consider this an imposition and object to it are rather obvious.

To tie this in to the other topic we were discussing, this is also precisely why Interculturalism is a much better concept and why Multiculturalism is racist and divisive. The concepts are the same.

Interculturalism is founded on the concept of Inclusion and places civil law over and above all cultural and social beliefs, thereby removing cultural relativism as an option.

However, it does this within the context of recognizing the right of all to follow their culture as long as those cultural beliefs do not contravene existing law and/or violate anyone else's civil rights..

Multiculturalism is founded on the concept of Diversity and imposes cultural relativism.

The exception to this occurs in situations where certain (not all) criminal laws are violated. Other laws can be violated on the grounds of accommodationism.

However, this is inconsistently applied since by definition, not accommodating these beliefs (religious or cultural) is in contradiction to the fundamental concept of Multiculturalism.

These critical differences are based on the fundamental concepts advocated by each belief system.

Secularism and Interculturalism is Inclusive and speaks to the rights of all, religious and non-religious.

Multiculturalism and Religious accommodation are, by definition, culturally and religiously relativistic.

No comments: